In a recent article in Talent Management Magazine, I shared some key thoughts about the importance of recognizing psychological needs of workers as we lead our teams toward higher levels of performance. The reality is that tangible rewards will only motivate a worker so far, and when external motivators are removed, employees tend to lose their commitment to performance.
Our extensive research dictates that responding to workers’ intrinsic needs is a far wiser approach, as it yields both engagement and retention.
The Talent Management article offers a balance of perspectives between the needs-based approach to coaching and another approach, offered by Ann Simon, toward engagement and retention of workers – through storytelling. At first, it may seem there’s no real connection between needs-based coaching and storytelling, but a second look reveals a common bridge between the two.
Narrative is a powerful concept. In reality, we understand and think of several things through the lens of a narrative. Movies and TV shows, of course, but also ads and news stories. It’s the way our mind works. When we’re presented with a sequence of events we try to find a logical flow of related plot points, and characters driven by goals and needs, obstacles and triumphs. We stay tuned to find out how things are going to be resolved.
And there’s a direct link between needs-based coaching and the use of narrative. Both approaches begin with the common understanding that a salary or monetary rewards are simply not enough to build sustained motivation. Workers want to connect with their organizations in meaningful ways, and they will only stay if their organization fulfills a deeper purpose than simply providing a paycheck.
The beauty of needs-based coaching is that it taps into this fundamental reality and offers workers exactly what they seek: deeper level connections between their life and their role at the organization. At AchieveGlobal, we have uncovered three basic psychological needs that employees share:
For leaders, recognizing these needs is profoundly important, and successfully providing for these needs is really the key to building employee engagement and retention. In order to adopt a needs-based leadership style, leaders must master coaching skills that foster such an environment by:
- Offering needs-based feedback
- Shaping a motivational workforce
- Realizing talent in others
- Giving rewards and recognition
So, tying it all together, once a leader has built a welcoming and positive environment through needs-based coaching, the final step is to use the proper narrative to keep employees informed and energized. Whether written or oral, recognition of the value of employees and their contributions will go a long way to sustaining their engagement and retaining the best and brightest.
Sharon Daniels is CEO of AchieveGlobal in Tampa, Florida