Influence and Motivation: How culture inspires your people

November 7, 2022

Influence and Motivation: How culture inspires your people

“Motivation is undoubtedly the single greatest influence on how well people perform. Most productivity studies have found that motivation has a stronger influence on productivity than any other factor.” — Steve McConnell

I interviewed Jon Levy for a Success magazine podcast, and one of the things that stuck with me during our conversation was that, aside from trust, the sense of belonging and influence feed off of each other. When a person feels like they belong to a community or group, or can identify with a leader’s views, they opt-in to that leader’s or organization’s influence. And when one feels like their voice matters in a group, and they have some sort of influence in a community, they feel like they belong.

Workplace culture and influence go hand in hand. But another factor that is crucial to growth and success is motivation. How does culture influence motivation and vice versa, and how do they affect your team’s performance?

Culture and employee engagement are some of the hottest buzzwords in leadership this year. When employees are highly engaged, they are emotionally invested in their work and are motivated to contribute to the organization’s shared goal.

To an extent, culture and influence affect each other, and culture plays an important role in engaging and motivating your people to be more productive.

Of course, there are other factors that affect motivation as well, such as personality, work style, and generational expectations. A highly diverse team might experience conflicting cross-cultural motivations, and as leaders, it is our job to play to both the individual and collective drives of the people we lead.

According to an article in Harvard Business Review, “Why we work determines how well we work.” They also mentioned a study in the 80s that determined six main reasons people work: Play, Purpose, Potential, Emotional Pressure, Economic Pressure, and Inertia.

Play, purpose, and potential are direct motives: they are related to the work itself and, therefore, improve performance. The latter three—emotional pressure, economic pressure, and inertia—are indirect motives. They are removed from the work and tend to reduce performance.

Cultures that leverage play, purpose, and potential motivations while minimizing emotional and economic pressure and avoiding inertia tend to see better overall productivity.

We are motivated by different things. Sometimes it is doing what we love and enjoy. Others choose work they identify with or that helps enhance their potential and self-identity. Then there are some who just want to avoid a threat to their personal identity or want to avoid economic pressures altogether. It isn’t about the work, and sometimes it isn’t about their identity either. Others forget what it was that motivated them to work—they’ve just been going through the motions.

As leaders, we need to be aware of these motivation types and work towards building workplace cultures that inspire productive motivation. Studies have shown that there is a strong correlation between employees’ total motivation and the company’s customer satisfaction ratings.

The stronger the culture we build, the better we can engage our employees, and their performance is driven by how well we can inspire them and provide meaningful work. It takes building relationships and trust and empowering people by recognizing their contributions, entrusting them with projects that are aligned with their personal and professional goals as well as the company goals, equipping them with all the resources they need, and always showing gratitude.

Thanks for reading A Brilliant Tribe.