motivating employee performance 2-min

Motivating Employee Performance with Strong Leadership

In your organization, motivating employee performance is the critical ingredient to strong results. Those results come from effective teams who are comprised of engaged individuals. And to keep those individuals engaged, you have to keep them motivated.

The direct manager or supervisor has the most agency on the employee’s level of motivation. However, all too often, employees are promoted into manager roles due to their ability to perform tasks- not because of their skills in leadership. They aren’t trained with strategies to know how to motivate a team.

Healthy leaders are the backbone of organizations. Leaders who know how to motivate staff then have staff come together to create solutions and drive results. As such, for leaders to be effective, they have to tap into the natural forces that motivate human behavior.

This post will highlight the role of leadership in creating healthy workforces. Plus, we’ll provide practical strategies leaders can put into place to increase employee engagement and motivation. For more information or to request support in implementation, visit our Secure Leadership Workshop services.

Motivating Employee Performance with Secure Leadership

When it comes to motivation, the importance of leadership cannot be overstated. Importantly, leaders in your organization have the direct agency in motivating employee performance by creating an engaging environment.

The leadership style they adopt impacts whether employees feel creative, productive, inspired, and adaptive, or dreadful, reactive, and uninventive. They must understand which conditions will make employees less motivated and which are the best way motivate employees. Most importantly, they must know how to sustain these results and how to keep employees motivated.

What is Secure Leadership?

Secure base leadership is a method of leading that draws on a model of understanding human behavior called attachment theory. Attachment theory equips us with a way of understanding the motivation of employees and of behavior at a basic psychological level. Undoubtedly, these behavioral forces are present within workplace dynamics and relationships.

Particularly, attachment theory helps us understand some key motivating forces of behavior. These motivating forces are about establishing security in their place in the work environment:

  • Feeling connected access to leaders
  • Confidence that leaders will be responsive to their needs and ideas
  • Success in strategies responding to threat or stress

When employees know that they are supported and can access their leaders, a sense of safety is established. Therefore, they no longer need to be reactive to threats (e.g. to their job security, opportunities, etc.).

Then, with this security in the relationship they have with their supervisor, they open up another set of motivating forces. These motivating factors are related to exploring their environment, pushing boundaries, and creating solutions:

  • Curiosity, creativity, flexibility
  • Desire to be a part of something larger than oneself
  • Knowing their thoughts, ideas, and worth are valued by the organization

Impact of Secure Leadership on Motivating Employees

Above all, a leader must understand that without establishing a sense of security with their team, their employees will perform in a place of reactivity. Importantly, reactivity does not allow for the risk-taking involved with creating new solutions.

Furthermore, it does not create the trust that is required to build an environment of loyalty, engagement, and dedication- all required for productivity in the organization.

Components of Secure Leadership

To build out presence as a secure leader, a manager must balance skills in connecting to their teams and maintaining structure.

Holding the structure involves creating predictability, rules, and therefore safety in a team environment. Some of the leadership structure skills include:

  • Creating and adhering to established policies
  • Pushing team members to new areas of growth
  • Establishing justice in the workplace

Structure is a critical component to a safe, functioning environment. However, structure without connection leads to employees working only out of fear.

Connecting to teams is about staying attuned to the members of a team so they can work within the structure. The connecting side of leadership serves to create safety for employees to take balanced risks. This involves activities such as:

  • Seeing employees as people with lives, passions, and goals
  • Creating time to hear about and connect with each person on the team
  • Identifying and fostering the value of each team member

For more details about how to implement the structure and connection sides of leadership in your organization, visit our Secure Leadership Workshop services. We hold workshops with manager level employees and above to further practice and integrate the material.

motivation for employee at a laptop typing

Secure Leadership Strategies

Critically, motivating employee performance requires strategies that balance maintaining structure and connection with teams.

Here are five easy-to-apply tips on motivating employees that your leaders and implement in their teams to create motivation for your workplace.

1- Open Communication

Clear lines of communication are critical in creating predictability and safety. Employees need to know how to find their leader so that their leader is both accessible and responsive to the conversation at hand.

Additionally, communication is important to maintain connectedness to members of a team. Casual check in’s with staff to inquire about their lives outside of work will help the staff feel seen in their humanity.

Create clear places of communication in your workflow so that employees know how they can find you and so that you can show you are invested in them outside their performance on your team. Weekly meetings, informal chats in break-rooms, and coffee breaks are all great ways to open up lines of communication.

2- Feedback Mechanisms

It should be noted that managers often over-estimate how connected their employees feel to them. Do not assume how things are going. The only way to know about how things are going is to ask your team.

Create predictable (i.e. regularly occurring) forums where you will not only provide honest, intentional feedback to staff, but where you will obtain feedback from them. This feedback is crucial to your ability to assess where the team is functioning and how engaged they are. Engagement of employees is the backbone of a healthy, productive work environment.

3- Emotional Awareness + Mental Health

Creating an engaged environment and becoming a secure leader requires stepping into some emotional territory.

As a leader, it is important to make sure that you are regulated and that you are mentally healthy and balanced so that you can show up to these conversations in an effective way.

Take care of yourself outside of work. Put time into the health of your relationships outside of work. Maybe go to therapy or get back into your spirituality. All of these factors will exponentially improve your ability to create an effective, value-driven team.

4- Access to Mental Health Resources

While the mental well being of leaders is crucial, don’t stop there. The importance of the mental well-being of your team cannot be over-stated. If your team members are not mentally healthy and emotionally regulated, you are likely going to run into resistance, even when you implement secure leadership strategies.

Working with an onsite corporate therapist can be an effective solution to offer everyone in the organization a space to work through challenges and deal with them more effectively.

In the big picture, this kind of support will increase engagement, drive productivity, and reduce retention.

5- Promote Growth Opportunities

Finally, don’t forget to see your staff as people with a humanity outside their daily task list. Most individuals are fulfilled by meaning and growth over the course of their career. Motivating employee engagement requires making staff feel like the are valued for more than just the tasks they complete.

Stay connected to their visions and their goals. Walk with them to create opportunities for them to grow.


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