Motivating your workforce to drive behaviours and performance.

By Stephen Jolly, Managing Director of M&C Saatchi Transform, and Chris Woodman, Managing Director at Leadenhall Consulting. Leadenhall Consulting partners closely with M&C Saatchi Transform in the areas of leadership, coaching and team development.

Last week, M&C Saatchi Transform, the organisational change specialists, in partnership with Leadenhall Consulting, welcomed a Change Management Institute lecture by organisational psychologist and management expert Professor Adrian Furnham. At our London offices overlooking Carnaby Street, Adrian shared insights on the importance of organisational culture and how to motivate employees effectively towards desired behaviours and subsequently, boost individual, team and company performance.

Adrian recently retired as Professor of Psychology at University College London after 37 years and is an adjunct Professor at BI: The Norwegian Business School. He is also the author of 1,200 scientific papers and 80 books, including High Potential (2018) and Motivation and Performance (2017).


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The insight which provoked the most discussion over drinks afterwards was how money is certainly not the greatest motivator and can in fact demotivate.

Motivation comes in two forms. Intrinsic motivation is when the activity itself is its own reward. Extrinsic motivation occurs when people are prepared to take part in an activity, because they are compensated by some benefit, such as money. However, Adrian explained that money only has a very short-term effect on motivation for four key reasons.

  • We swiftly adapt to a salary increase and soon crave more
  • A salary increase prompts more concern over tax hikes
  • We constantly compare ourselves to others and this comparison is more important to us than actual money earned
  • Alternative benefits will often matter more. Would you rather have two weeks holiday or a £1,000 bonus?

Money can also decelerate motivation as rewards can be manipulative, rupture relationships, discourage risk-taking and make people feel bribed, leaving them to wonder what’s in it for them beyond their bank balance.

The most important issue is the concept of comparative fairness. If you cannot clearly link pay to performance or justify differential pay, it may be wise to ensure salaries are kept secret as your workforce will attempt to rectify a sense of inequity.

So, how are the most motivating company cultures driving desired behaviour?

  • Clearly link valued reward to the job performance needed to attain them. Implementing a pay-for-performance plan is a good place to start
  • Design jobs that make desired behaviours more attainable
  • Be aware that employees value different things. Create a cafeteria-style benefit plan allowing individuals to select the fringe benefits they most value, whether it be time off or a gym membership
  • Guide individuals towards their true passions, interests and values, and change the job to accommodate these preferences where possible. During the first week on the job at Facebook, managers sit down with new hires and ask them about the favourite projects they have done, the moments when they felt most energised at work and the passions they have outside their jobs. Armed with that knowledge, managers can build engaging roles from the get-go

Yet again, it was reinforced how deep insight into not only the individual, but also the collective workforce, is fundamental to motivate and drive organisational change effectively. Without this knowledge, you are simply stabbing in the dark.

At M&C Saatchi Transform, we combine rigorous research, a deep understanding of the social aspects of human behaviour and world-renowned creativity to help ambitious leaders identify and drive the behaviours they need to deliver change and enhance performance.