Motivation: How Great Leaders Get Things Done

Your organization has a unique culture, and that culture has a direct impact on the ability of a business to innovate and inspire creativity. It also determines the motivation your employees have to engage in the innovation process. Have you ever wondered if there are people in your workforce who are hesitant to share new, and even radical, perspectives or ideas because of motivation or they worry they won’t be seen as team players or will irritate co-workers?

This barrier to innovation has become more prominent as each workforce becomes more diverse. Unleashing creative thinking that can lead to new or redesigned products and services, and new and expanded market opportunities, has never been more important to remaining competitive. Until recently, a business culture was defined in terms of the unifying shared or core values, like excellent customer services and integrity. In the dynamic business world that exists today, core values include the ability to innovate to meet customer needs.

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Rethinking the Purpose of Corporate Culture

The new perspective on business culture takes a different view of what the culture should achieve. While culture is the umbrella of values, it should not box people in by making them hesitant to share new ideas. John Traphagan, in We’re Thinking About Organizational Culture All Wrong, suggests that the most effective culture is about unifying and dividing, but dividing in a productive way. His premise is that culture is something employees use to achieve personal and work goals, based on their personal interpretation of common values. Therefore, the type of culture leads them to take certain paths to achieve those goals.

People don’t interpret common values the same way. For example, there are different perspectives on what is meant by responsibility. Does it mean accountability, blind loyalty to business rules or a means of driving change? When your diverse employees interact, they bring unique goals and perspectives, and that can easily lead to conflict. The human tendency is to avoid conflict, but productive conflict is an innovation driver. In the most innovative companies, people are willing to interact, express themselves without fear of reprisal, share, collaborate and offer creative and even off-the-wall ideas.

Motivation From All Directions

The most effective culture encourages all employees to get involved in generating innovation. It’s not just marketing, sales and R&D that should feel responsible for coming up with new ideas. All your employees, from the delivery people to the CEO need to see themselves as contributors. When people from different cultures or of different genders interact, there can be some miscommunications because everyone has a frame of reference. In a positive culture, that doesn’t stop people from interacting. Instead, it encourages all employees to share and debate new ideas and perspectives, promote innovation, share unique knowledge based on personal experiences and join in diverse cultural exchanges.

This new concept of business culture is much more fitting for a dynamic, diverse workplace that values innovation. According to Traphagan, traditional views of culture see it as a control mechanism or the exercise of power more than a unifying force. Everyone is expected to think and act within the confines of their job responsibilities and positions. If the delivery employee is unwilling to share new ideas about improving delivery efficiencies or the physically challenged production worker doesn’t feel comfortable suggesting the redesign of a product to meet the needs of customers who have disabilities, innovation becomes a set of lost opportunities.

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Generating Productive Dynamics with Motivation

Courageous leaders develop the required skills to engage employees and give them the motivation to keep going in this dynamic culture, requiring the delicate balancing act of keeping employee behaviors aligned with business goals without stifling desired interactions. How managers interact and communicate with their staff members determines how comfortable their employees are with sharing their different perspectives and creative ideas.

There must also be a well-defined motivation and communication system for capturing the innovation that flows from employees across the organization. It could be via email, team participation, employee websites, internal social media, video conferencing, face-to-face conversations and so on. The communication system can also embrace leadership messages that promote employee networking and productive dynamics. Managers can regularly connect with employees through videos, web and eLearning programs that make it clear everyone is an important member of the team, all ideas are welcomed and the company culture is based on full workforce participation in the innovation process.

About the Author Chris Craddock

As the leader of Projections' production team, Chris loves to inspire others to perform at the highest levels! From the most challenging leadership opportunities to brainstorming the latest topics leaders want to learn about, Chris provides clear direction and vision.

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