I don’t have time to tell his story here but read his book The Culture Code: An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Live and Buy as they Do
I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Rapaille for a short period years ago. But what I learned during that time sticks with me. Dr. Rapaille was performing a series of “syndicated studies” for major corporations around the world on various topics. One topic was about Rewards and Recognition, what motivated people. It was very clear from the global study that people were not motivated by money. In fact, it turns out that every time money is involved, in the form of a bonus, pay raise, profit sharing or whatever the mechanism, the deep-down belief in people was that the company had simply leveled the playing field using the money. Put simply, money was granted when they had already given the company an extraordinary effort. The company was simply “leveling the playing field” by rewarding them with money. Money was not a motivator, it simply made things even.
I know a young entrepreneur who is creating and growing a successful company. In my conversation with her the other day, she spoke of how she sits down with each employee at the beginning of the quarter to talk about how the employee wants to grow personally and what they would like to learn. They always find an opportunity for growth and development for the employee that would also benefit the company. By funding the personal growth and development of the employee she keeps them motivated and benefits the company through increased skills and capabilities.
Dr. Rapaille’s study answered the question, if not money, what was motivating. The answer to this began to take on the idea of a GPS system. All employees are on a journey to somewhere. There may be long-term goals and there are always short-term goals. Short-term goals might be related to having a young family and needing more time to be with them. Or trying to finish an advanced degree and needing the resources, time and tutoring to accomplish the goal. Long-term goals might include living in a particular geographical region, reaching a certain level of corporate leadership or even retiring at a young age.
The conclusion of the study? To really reward and motivate your people, you must know them and their journey. You must understand their GPS system and where they’re located on that trajectory. Once you’ve made enough personal connection with them to understand their current location, reward them by helping them get to the next mile-marker on the journey.
- After a period of heavy dedication, send them home for a few days with their family.
- Give them some time off to study for that next exam. Offer the help of someone who knows the topic well.
- Give them some great feedback and then training to help them with the next stage of professional growth, not a one-size-fits-all training and development.
- Whatever reward personally benefits them, that’s rewarding!
Two decades ago it took a high priced, global study to help managers understand what’s motivating to their employees. My young entrepreneur understood it instinctively.
Every leader/manager I know is asking me about the millennials and what motivates them. It seems to be a mystery. I have one piece of solid advice. Don’t ask me. Ask them!