The 7 Pillars represent the cornerstones of intrinsic motivation, the kind of motivation we feel when we are immersed in an engaging and rewarding activity.
Measures the three components of a good goal: what, how and why.
Measures the perceived quantity and frequency of feedback.
Measures the extent to which relationships between various teams and between team members themselves, help to create a good working environment.
Measures the perceived balance of challenges, skills and available resources.
Measures how much people feel they have learned, are learning and will continue learning in the company.
Measures how much the person is inclined to try solutions, propose changes and get involved in dealing with a new problem.
Measures the perception of having control over one’s own activity, making decisions and their impact on achieving the final objective.
As a manager today, one must understand the values and the strategic orientation of the company, current developments within the industry and emerging technologies that might change the way of business. Additionally, one portrays the company to the outside world and the personal network through the very own attitude and actions. But what happens on a daily basis? At the core, a manager has to manage, but what does this really mean? Essentially it means that there are people involved who depend on the guidance of their leader.
Essentially it means guiding people toward the successful completion of a common goal while also paying close attention to their needs. We are all familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs through his 1954 book Motivation and Personality. In his work, the goal of an individual is to attain the final stage – self-transcendence. However, this is much more complicated in a workplace. Firstly, it is no longer about an individual but is about a group of people who work with others groups of people. Secondly, the goal of the group is to maximize productivity/profit in an ethical manner. Thirdly, all the extrinsic and intrinsic needs of each member of the group needs to be fulfilled. Finally, creativity and innovation need to be fostered while attaining the goal.
To manage successfully, a manager first needs to cultivate a culture of trust within his/her team. After that or in parallel, the seven pillars that form the holistic base of effective leadership need to be tuned for successful management:
- 1. Clear goals
- 2. Continuous feedback
- 3. Social interaction
- 4. Balanced challenges
- 6. Attitude to risk
- 7. Sensation of control
A manager has to set clear goals for the employees, to inform them about their tasks and to keep them motivated because they understand the direction of their work. Clear goals need to be SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound. This means that it is important to give out assignments to employees that are clearly defined in what is needed to do and when it will be achieved, that can be measured with specific KPIs so one can see how much of the task has already been fulfilled, that relate to the capabilities of the assignee, that are relevant to the current working situation and environment and that have deadlines.
When a task is given out without a deadline, employees might never start to work on it because there is no pressure to do so. Furthermore, employees can feel demotivated with tasks that do not match their expertise and where they cannot see the impact of their actions. Thus, the set assignment should be relevant to their background and position in the company. On top of that, everyone will only submit to tasks that they deem achievable which means that a manager must always keep the strengths and weaknesses of his/her employees in mind and distribute the work accordingly. Another important aspect of setting clear goals is to give an insight, how one measures success. When will the goal be reached? How much has been achieved today? How do I know if the task was fulfilled to above-average satisfaction after completion? Therefore, setting measurable parameters for the goal itself helps employees to streamline their actions and schedule their time accordingly.
Finally, the goals need to be set specifically. This includes the definition of questions like “Who is involved?”, “What needs to be accomplished?”, “Where should it be done?”, “When do I need to start working on the task?”, “Which are the requirements and constraints related to the assignment?” and “Why do I put in the effort in the first place?”.
Setting these clear goals is important on both, a short-term and a long-term basis. Employees need to understand the ultimate goal of their position in the company: what they are working for, who benefits from it and why, and what tangible impact their actions have on a daily scale. This includes an overall understanding of the companies’ goals, mission and vision as well as an understanding of their own personal goals within the company that they might have. In the short-term, they need to understand the importance of their current task, what steps are needed to fulfill it, and how they can achieve those steps upon completion.
The Beacon dashboard displays values between 0 and 100, where scores below 30 are considered low scores and those above 70 as high scores. An employee with a low score on clear goals is considered to be less motivated on his job, due to a lack of management support in terms of task delegation and goal setting. These workers just try to fulfill the given tasks with their own interpretation and given abilities which is highly inefficient and dangerous for team success. Employees with high scores understand what is needed from them and thus perform more efficiently with increased levels of motivation. These high team scores are the goal for managers, which they can achieve by adjusting their personal communication to their employees with special attention to the clear setting of goals.
Employees can only grow when their actions are evaluated on a constant base. When they simply fulfill the tasks, they have been ordered to do, without ever receiving feedback on their performance, they will continue to do so forever and nothing is going to change. Change however in the modern business environment is necessary to adapt to the ever-changing challenges on various levels within the organization. Furthermore, employees in an organization want to grow personally by developing their capabilities because they are not machines simply doing the same step repeatedly and because life is a learning journey.
Giving continuous feedback is a simple yet effective way to improve individual as well as team performance by promoting a growth mindset and delivering the base to spur individual development. Thus, it should be deeply incorporated into every company culture so that not only managers but also employees reflect on their own actions as well as those of their coworkers. Managers should keep in mind what every employee is working on at the moment and how these employees performed on similar tasks in the past, then draw a comparison how their performance changed over time.
It is important to give feedback in both cases when something was done very good as well as when it could have been done much better. The emotional setting in both cases should be objective and solely concentrated on the task itself. Feedback can be given by asking employees for their own opinion on their performance, what they see they have done well and where they see room for improvement. Feedback should always be a conversation rather than a monologue. The overall goal of giving feedback is to increase employee motivation, to establish a closer relationship and to provide an objective way of how to personally improve for the future.
Integrating this pillar of effective leadership into the company culture can be achieved by regularly emphasizing the importance of feedback throughout all internal communication, by giving continuous feedback to all employees so they get used to being evaluated and see their personal development over time more clearly, and by being open as a manager to the feedback of others, moreover even asking for it.
A high value above 70 on the Beacon Dashboard for “Continuous Feedback” reflects an environment where feedback is widely accepted and used throughout the organization, leading to higher motivation and better performance. A low value below 30 shows that feedback is not given on a regular base, which means that managers must actively work on their feedback to further strengthen the workforce capabilities and to establish a growth mindset among all coworkers.
The amount of social interaction in the workplace has a strong impact on personal satisfaction, motivation and performance. Companies today, therefore, try to create a working environment where employees are forced to interact with each other. Apple built its new campus for the corporate headquarter in a round shape, where people can easily meet in the central park, access different divisions quickly and where they have hang-out areas that facilitate the communication between different departments. All of this promotes the exchange of information between individuals which helps to spark innovation as a result of the collaboration between people with diverse mindsets, educational backgrounds, and responsibilities. Not only is this social interaction an essential need of our human character, but it further fosters the relationships between employees which establish a bond of trust. This trust helps to smooth team working processes that will then run more efficiently because people know that they can rely on each other. On top of that, people who often interact with each other have a better understanding and even care more about the needs of the other team members. Thus, it is important to create a working environment where employees are incentivized to interact with each other and where their communication is facilitated in every way.
A manager has the power to influence the composition of teams, the amount of teamwork, and the distribution of shared responsibilities over different employees and departments. In some cases, it is not possible to divide work tasks between several individuals, but in general, collaborating helps to avoid mistakes, spurs creativity and makes the work more enjoyable. On top of this work-related interaction, team building events are a great way to bring employees closer together, to establish this bond of trust and to create an atmosphere where everyone is rallied around the same company goal.
The value for “Social Interaction” gives an overview of the quality of internal relations in the working environment. Furthermore, it encompasses the quality of communication inside the company, both vertical and horizontal. A high value above 70 is a broad indicator and not too specific since a good environment can mean collaboration and cooperation in one company or a strict and healthy competition in another. In total, it shows that employees interact with each other regularly on different levels, portraying a healthy team atmosphere. A low value below 30 means teamwork is considered cumbersome and causing troubles which is evidence of a lack of communication, bad team cohesion and thus low performance.
One of the main drivers of intrinsic motivation is related to the challenges that employees face daily. When all tasks are very easy to accomplish, people do not need to use their full capabilities which in one way helps them establishing a routine, but in the other demotivates them quickly. Employees, actually most humans, want to grow and expand their own skill set and when they do not have the opportunity to do so, they lose interest in their work and might look for challenges somewhere else. The other extreme is being confronted with demanding tasks all the time that are beyond their capabilities. This leads to despair due to personal failure over and over again and therefore demotivates employees in a different way. Thus, employees need balanced challenges that allow them to get their work done but also demand increased performance, critical thinking and innovative problem solving every now and then. This means that they can easily enter the flow while working on simple daily tasks that are within their routine, but that they also grow their capabilities with new challenges that push their boundaries to another level. This level of balanced challenges helps employees to stay focused, makes them feel valued, creates an atmosphere of growth, and in that way, motivates intrinsically.
Managers should keep track of the employee workload in both, quantity and required the level of skills. When one can see that an employee is facing a lot of different tasks, they need to sense the despair and call other employees in for support or extend deadlines to lift the responsibility and decrease the stress level. They further should emphasize the importance of balanced challenges to supervisors as well as employees, so they themselves understand the mode of working in the flow on easy tasks and the mode of promoting personal growth through challenging assignments. When one can sense boredom, it is good to have tasks at hand that are different to the daily routine and that require complex thinking in order to challenge the employee. Doing so extends the bond of trust between the manager and the employee since the employee feels valued being given the new task and the manager acknowledges the performance when the task is fulfilled.
Using the Beaconforce dashboard helps to assess if the given challenges are well-balanced or if there are either too many or too little hard tasks for the employees. A high value above 70 means that employees are engaged in such a way that they can express their full skills while still being able to learn from the various challenges at the same time. A low value below 30 can indicate two opposite and different things. A level of daily challenge perceived too high compared to one’s skills, that leads to stress, worry, and fear of mistakes, or one too low, leading to boredom, routine work, and low engagement.
As much as employees need a certain sense of control over their actions, as much do they need a sense of improvement over time. In a society where self-actualization becomes more and more important, the growth mindset has fought its way into our daily life. People see room of improvement for diverse aspects of their lives and work towards self-set goals because they believe in the concept of self-improvement. When employees feel that they successfully worked on their skills and now see a better version of themselves, they acknowledge their work and get more motivated to improve other aspects of their self. These employees will not only master their current tasks, but look for new challenges to grow as an individual which not only leads to higher performance but also increased critical thinking within the company. This helps to eliminate malfunctions and source new ways for problem solving. It fosters innovation and creativity. Therefore, it is important to grant employees this sense of improvement by constantly driving them towards new challenges, by encouraging them to track and evaluate their own actions and by creating a culture where self-improvement is rewarded.
As one can see, this sense of improvement is closely tied to giving continuous feedback, setting clear goals and spreading a sensation of control. In fact, all seven pillars of effective leadership are closely inter-connected. Managers should provide employees with the feeling that working in the company is continuously improving their skills and knowledge, providing a positive base for them to stay within the company in order to get better. Some individuals and some positions demand, that this improvement is focused on a deep specialization, whereas others improve their capabilities by adding more and more to their individual skill-set.
A low value under 30 for “Sense of Improvement” on the Beacon Dashboard shows that the employees are simply repeating their tasks over and over again without improvement or the attempt of trying things differently. These employees might not feel challenged at all and even think that one’s chances of growing are hindered by the structure of the company, which implies low motivation on the job. A high value above 70 shows a workforce that perceives individual improvement over time which makes them feel in the right place, where they are valued and where they can grow to achieve higher levels of self-actualization throughout their working lives.
As much as managers have the power about the direction of their manpower, as much it is important for the employees to have a sensation of control over their own actions.
When an employee changes his behavior and does not feel the impact of his activities, he might conclude that his work does not have any influence on the companies’ direction and success. This is one of the biggest demotivators one can imagine. It completely depletes the purpose of the employee which makes him seem irrelevant and without any purpose. Therefore, it is essential to give all employees this sensation of control to emphasize their significance within the company structure, to make them feel valued and to underline their aspiration for a purpose.
A sense of control can be achieved through various methods that give employees a choice and responsibility. First of all, employees have to know their specific tasks, the steps how they can achieve their goals and the time frame within they have to be fulfilled (see Clear Goals). Within this structure however, they should be able to define their steps individually to make use of their knowledge and creativity. This gives them control over their work and makes them feel valuable which leads to higher levels of motivation. Then, this sensation of control can be improved by letting them set priorities and deadlines to a certain extent which fits into the time-frame of needed delivery. When the employees can deliver their work successfully within the deadline while setting times and priorities for themselves, they grow their organizational capabilities, portray responsible behavior and become more independent, which might even lead to sparking creativity and developing new ways to solve known problems. Another way to create a sensation of control is to give more choices to employees by integrating them into management decisions that impact the workplace (e.g. new interior design, the lunch-menu, flexible working hours etc.).
All of these activities can only be taken when the managers understand the strengths and weaknesses of their workforce and trust their capabilities. This shows that a close connection between managers and employees is essential for effective leadership and enables a shift from hierarchical leadership to a more collaborative approach.
The Beacon Dashboard shows values between 0 and 100 for the level of the “Sense of Control”. Low values below 30 indicate, that employees feel not valued in their positions and see their input as replaceable which leaves them with low confidence and without responsibility, resulting in low motivation on the job. A high value above 70 is admirable because it displays that employees feel well integrated into the company structure, valued because of their individual capabilities and confident to push their boundaries with new approaches to solve their challenges. These employees are likely to show high levels of motivation and overall satisfaction.