Intrinsic motivation: the missing piece in changing employee behavior
“Intrinsic motivation is about helping employees become more productive, engaged, and happier in their work.” Shlomo Ben-Hur and Nik Kinley talk about fostering a culture of intrinsic motivation and how it can better organizational performance.
“I put a dollar in one of those change machines. Nothing changed.” George Carlin (American comedian)
Though it is hardly ever listed in job descriptions, changing employees’ behavior is an important part of any manager’s work. Whether it is helping people to develop and improve at what they do or getting them to do new things in new ways, enabling behavior change just comes with the territory. And for many managers, it is the toughest challenge they face.
It is not that they do not know what needs to change. In a study we conducted with over 500 managers from around
the world, we asked leaders how confident they were about their ability to help others identify and understand which behaviors they needed to alter to improve performance. Nearly three-quarters said they found this easy. When we asked how confident they were about giving feedback, roughly the same percentage said they knew how to do that too. Yet only around a third felt sure about which techniques to use to help people evolve and fewer than 10% expressed confidence about making the adjustment stick over time. It is not what behavior to change but how to do so that they found perplexing. It is little wonder, then, that less than half of the managers we surveyed believed that attempts to modify behavior actually work.