Today’s leaders face a significant opportunity in how they intentionally adapt to their workforce. Despite what has been coined the “Big Quit” or “Great Resignation,” employees are waiting for a boss like you who can personalize their leadership experience to the new work-related realities of 2022. Yes, how we do work has changed over the last two years, but how we lead hasn’t. Leadership still requires an investment of time and techniques to drive people, production, and performance whether the workforce is at in the office, on a hybrid schedule, or fully remote. 

The motivational factors of the Two-Factor Theory came up in a recent discussion some colleagues as a way to prioritize and focus on the “right things” in re-connecting leaders with associates. Two Factor Theory, derived from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, was introduced by Frederick Herzberg in 1959 in his book Motivation to Work.

Our group was frustrated because managers kept focusing on the wrong things. In trying to motivate their associates, managers were setting a climate where high-scale production was everything. The driver of internal competition “to produce more widgets” was starting to decay the cultural fiber where individuals and their goals used to matter.

Today’s workplace puts a premium on leaders who can lead people the way they (the associates) need and want to be led. Did you catch that? Leaders will not get more production and higher performance with a daily or weekly quota, or production goal. Let’s look at a few of the motivational factors from the theory and see how leaders can really drive production by connecting with employees to determine how they need to be led:

Personal Growth: Are you challenging associates to grow professionally and personally by focusing on building a new skillset pertaining to work or their emotional intelligence?

Advancement: Are you finding opportunities for your associates to do new things to broaden their work experience? Even if there isn’t any upward mobility possibility, there is likely a lateral move or challenge available for leaders to leverage as a personal or professional advancement opportunity (for ideas, check out our previous blogs on the career chessboard).

Responsibility: Have you clearly identified and discussed roles and responsibilities with your associates and challenged them in your most recent one-on-one?  Have you tied evaluative criteria to their new responsibilities? Another way to focus on responsibility is to explore (with them) how their purpose connects with the organization’s overall purpose to drive personal responsibility and ownership. 

Recognition: How are you authentically recognizing the hard work of your employees? I emphasize authentic recognition here—something more than the pizzas on Fridays for the whole team. How about recognizing a “high-potential” by inviting them to a production meeting and asking their suggestion for particular leadership challenge you are facing.

What we aren’t saying about the “Big Quit” and the “Great Resignation” is that genuine leadership is the answer.  The times now demand that leaders pay more attention to what matters most—their people. By leveraging these motivational factors (and others), leaders can provide unique solutions to their associate workforce’s challenges.

 If you want more production and better performance, figure out how to motivate your people.