Ever had a contract or a role that perfectly suited your skill set and passions and you were also given free rein to make it your own as long as you hit the targets, achieved the deliverables and satisfied the goals of the organisation? How fantastic did that feel? I bet you exceeded expectations, received fantastic feedback from all the stakeholders and team members and loved every minute as well.
Sometimes it happens by accident, you’re in the right place at the right time and you have a dream run. It’s a once in a lifetime role. Or is it?
It’s the work version of being ‘in the groove’ or ‘in the zone’. The MQ or Meaning Quotient was high and as a result the same peak in performance can be experienced in a work environment as happens with musicians, artists or sports people.
Unfortunately, not all the pieces are always going to fit together for every staff member, every time, to create the performance peaks that achieve amazing results, and that’s ok. But is it possible for management to create opportunities that improve performance and create amazing results, and can they also damage the chances of having a perfect outcome? Of course.
In an increasingly competitive world, managers and organizations are constantly seeking ways to improve productivity and efficiency to not only get the best out of their team but also increase their satisfaction and loyalty, leading to improved retention levels and commitment. It’s a circle of cause and effect that makes good business sense.
When performance or satisfaction drops, one of the most common responses is that the role or duties lack ‘meaning’ and this is where the MQ can be more important than IQ or EQ. When people are motivated and engaged, they are better learners and will pull out all stops to reach the goals, even if that means learning new skills, trying new strategies and stepping out of their comfort zone. Enthusiasm almost always beats experience.
So what can management do to increase the percentage of time they and their team operate in the zone? What can they do to increase MQ, particularly when the pressure is high and the need to reach goals or meet targets is a more pressing priority?
- Change the story to suit the team.
When motivating leaders often use one of two strategies. Either that the company is underperforming and productivity increases are needed to survive in a competitive world, or they are capable of more and have the capacity to be leaders in their field with a little more effort and focus. Both stories have merit but they focus on the company not the individual and do not harness personal motivation other than the threat of losing employment. Fear can motivate but it doesn’t bring out the best in people as a rule.
Alternative stories that can provide meaning are more outwardly focused.
- making the world a better place and improving the community,
- providing a superior service or product to your customers to improve their lives and business performance,
- being committed to the goals and harnessing the strengths of the other team members so everyone works at their peak;
- and finally a purely selfish and person centered motivation – to increase salary or benefits to reward performance, improve career prospects and feel personally empowered and recognized.
These messages are far more effective in increasing MQ than anything company related.
2. Provide more choice and therefore increase motivation
Remember that time when all the pieces fit together and you were given autonomy to make the role your own and as a result you made amazing gains and created magic? That’s because when given choice and control you are more committed to the outcome, with research suggesting up to 5 times more committed. Imagine being able to harness the creativity and motivation of your team to that degree simply by consulting and offering choice in how the goals are achieved? It’s such a simple yet effective strategy with amazing results.
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