Do you know what your employees want?

Alex Moyle
Author - Business Development Culture
27th September 2018

Understanding ‘why’ your people turn up to work every day and therefore ‘what’ they want in return for their effort, is the critical ingredient in turning a good team into a truly outstanding one willing to go that extra mile to meet a deadline or achieve a goal.

Think about it from your own perspective. How well do you feel your manager understands why you come to work every day? Most importantly, do you feel they are helping you get what you want, as well as getting you to do what they want? Ideally, you should feel that you are in a win–win situation, with you getting what you want and the company getting what it wants in return.

Some of you may be thinking that you really don’t care about whether your manager knows what you want from turning up to work every day; however, the likelihood is your team do care. As far back as 1924 research conducted by Elton Mayo, an Australian-born sociologist, indicated higher levels of productivity when people feel someone is interested in their wellbeing at work. 

A key part of Mayo’s findings was that increased productivity came about because someone was actually concerned about employees and willing to discuss the impact changes in the workplace had on them personally. In other words showing an interest in how individuals feel at work improves both their motivation and productivity.

So do your team think you are interested in how they feel?

Just as a great sales professional motivates clients to want to buy a service or product, so a great manager motivates employees to want to do their job. You need to sell people on doing their job, particularly if they are to keep working how you want them to work when your back is turned.

When I first became a manager, I fell into the trap of telling people what to do and pushing my team to act with no questions asked, rather than inspiring them to want to act. I was a top biller and a manager to boot, so why would they not do what I said or act on what the company needed them to do?

With hindsight, at the moment of promotion I had subconsciously forgotten everything I knew about sales. I went from being a consultative salesperson to a pushy high-pressure salesman, forcing my team to buy the ideas I was selling. After three months I was losing the war of attrition; I was so busy telling them what I thought they should be doing and what the company thought they should be doing that I overlooked what they wanted. What I should have been doing, of course, was adjusting and adapting my suggestions to align with their own motivations and goals.

For many managers, helping employees to realize their ambitions is becoming harder and harder. In the past, as one CEO put it, ‘to motivate a salesperson all you need is a generous bonus scheme and a good company car policy’. In today’s workplace, while the big bonus is still a large motivator for many sales professionals, other factors such as career aspirations, personal challenge and work–life balance are increasingly driving motivation levels. 

Research by PricewaterhouseCoopers - Millennials at Work: Reshaping the workplace - shows that financial remuneration has definitely slipped down the priority ladder. The number one consideration for millennials in the workplace, according to the report, is their personal learning and development. This is followed by flexible working hours with cash bonuses in third place. 

So how well do you understand why the people in your team come to work and what they want from being at work? The better you understand their motivation, the easier it will be to unlock the discretionary effort that turns a good employee into an outstanding one.


Alex Moyle is a business development, sales expert and author of Business Development Culture – taking sales culture beyond the sales team, published by Kogan Page and available on Amazon. Find out more:

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