Continuing on the topic of alignment and 2010 business plans, a couple of people I respect had some interesting insights recently. Blogger, author and coach Jason Seiden made these observations about motivation and retention in his predictions for 2010:

“As the economy begins to recover and employment mobility returns, organisations that have been practicing cram-down HR—forcing people to conform to corporate’s plans rather than leveraging corporate to support people—as well as organisations that have ignored talent development, created opaque decision-making processes, or allowed their legal departments to write HR’s notices will watch their best talent stream out the door.

“Meanwhile, organisations who have been treating their people like grown-ups—that is, organisations that realise that the way in which something is said often has a significantly greater impact than what gets said, and put energy and focus into getting the communications/human element aspect of their business right—will see their futures brighten even in the face of a tough economic climate.”

And Roy Vallee, CEO of Avnet, noted about his role in motivating employees:

“I do think that the vast majority of employees want to do a good job. I think people want to come in and do what's right for their companies. I think that as long as they are being appropriately recognised and rewarded and have opportunities for career growth — the opportunity to achieve what it is they want out of their career — they will be motivated over a long period of time.

"What I figured out was that it wasn't my job to install a fire in their belly, so to speak. In fact, most of them already had that fire in the belly. What they needed from me was two things: one, clarity of the work that I wanted them to do, or what it is I wanted them to accomplish; and two, they wanted me to remove the obstacles that were beyond their personal control.”

I think both Jason and Roy highlight a common fallacy of motivation pundits – the belief that employees have to be motivated to do the right thing, as if the majority are just slackers who want to laze around at your expense. In fact, as Jason and Roy point out, employees want to do the right thing. Too often management, however, either beats that desire out them by ignoring them and their needs or by not creating an environment in which they can succeed to their highest ability. Such an environment – one in which employees want to engage – is itself motivating.

What are you doing in 2010 to remove obstacles to high performance, to eliminate barriers to success, to create an environment in which employees can and will deliver what you need?