How Supervisor Motivate Sub-Ordinate

As a supervisor or leader, you have to understand the importance of motivating your staff for better performance. Objectives and Feedbacks are like traffic light and road map, but motivation is the gasoline that allow your car to run and reach your destination.

There are two important concepts in motivation:

Intrinsic Motivation vs Extrinsic Motivation

Often, HR practitioners confuse motivation and incentive, or even worse, monetary incentive. When talking about motivation, the first thing comes to one’s mind may be promotion or bonus (or punishment, as a negative motivator). These are external factors that can surely alter employee’s behavior.

However, a lot of research has been showing that, although impact of extrinsic motivation can be quick, impact due to, eg, promotion or bonus, can fade out quickly.

Instead, we should focus more on intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation means you enjoy, feel excited or rewarding with performing certain tasks. Apparently the same tasks can be rewarding to one, but frustrating to another.

The key to success is to find what individual staff enjoys or feels excited with.

David McClelland’s Learned Needs Theory

To discover individual intrinsic motivator, David McClelland’s “Need Theory” may help. In this theory, there are three types of motivators:

1. Need of Achievement - The need of setting realistic goals and experiencing success by finishing the goals.

To motivate people focusing on need of achievement, we can set milestones for lengthy projects so that it is easier and more frequent to feel successful by reaching milestones. On the other hand, even if milestone is not met yet, frequent feedback can also help because positive feedback is also an achievement.

2. Need of Power – Build up a sense of ownership and control.

To motivate people focusing on need of power, empowering and participation are important. We can motivate staff with such need by engaging them early at the start of projects. In case how things are done is not decided by the employee, how about the extrinsic motivator – we can also foster the sense of power by allowing employee to determine the external reward.

3. Need of Affiliation – Want to be liked and welcome by the organization.

Finally, there are employees who primary objective is to work happily and maintain harmony with others. Obviously, HR should try to choose team-player by testing the candidate when hiring. On the other hand, be reminded that competition for reward that tries to single out out-performer may have negative impact on employee with need of affiliation.