Lots has been written about motivation. And yet, as I think about all that I have read and seen, it boils down to a simple idea: give people a sense of control. Allow people to not only use their skills and abilities but also to express their ideas.
Intrinsic motivation leads to the best results. It’s based on allowing people autonomy, supporting mastery, giving people a sense of purpose, and encouraging connection with other people.
There is much research showing that how you describe the job leads to greatly differing results. A job defined with meaning and purpose leads to not only better results but also improved health of the worker. Encouraging people to think about the good that comes to other from what they do increases employees subjective well being. Giving them the autonomy to figure out goals, tasks, and methods leads to increased performance.
People want to have control over what they do and how they do it. They want the opportunity to make decisions and understand how they improve the general welfare. They want support in all this and in return will do their best and perform at a higher level.
Most importantly is that they have a supportive boss, a boss who is open and honest and encourages them to be open and honest in return. Encouraging employees to speak up gives them a sense of control whether their ideas wind up being implemented or not. The mere fact of working in an environment that values their input leads to an increased sense of involvement. And an increased sense of involvement leads to better results.
Make your life easier, loosen up and let people lead themselves.