What's the Best Way to Bring Out the Best in People?

In the eighty years that have passed since the Hawthorne study, observations of people at work reveal much the same thing: in order to tap into the potential of human capital, executives and leaders must pay attention to their employees.

And that attention should be on a level that respects their basic human nature and individual differences.

If you’re a manager, you intuitively know what research by the Gallup Organization reveals: many organizations are running at only about a third of their human potential.

Successful organizations don’t expect that employee incentives will guarantee better job performance. Instead, they pay attention to their people and what engages them.

As one CEO puts it, “In today’s business world there are really only two important challenges: One is to reduce costs and cut prices. The other is to grow margins by acquiring and sustaining profitable customers. I can’t do that. My employees must do it, one customer at a time.”

Companies on the path of extreme competition must be able to provide more than price advantage. To make this possible, organizations must tap into employee motivation and discover what drives them. When they do, they unleash tremendous energy and potential.

What many organizations don’t see is that employee performance and its subsequent impact on customer engagement revolve around intrinsic motivation determined in the brain. This motivation defines specific talents and the emotional mechanisms that everyone brings to work.

Recent discoveries in neurosciences support the fact that emotional processes are integral to learning, reasoning and decision-making. How can leaders improve their understanding of their employees’ strengths and motivating drives?

Some ideas come to mind: assessments, coaching, and conversations are excellent approaches. What else can be helpful when it comes to finding out what motivates and engages your people?

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