Tom Bailey, UK account manager for Mind Resources explains how giving employees more responsibility can help boost their motivation.
A recent survey conducted by the Learning and Skills council (LSC) of 72,000 employers in the UK revealed that bosses would describe 2.4 million workers -11% of all employees- as incompetent at their current jobs.
These startling figures were attributed to a number of differing reasons, however a significant proportion of employees’ skills gaps were seen, by managers as due to a “lack of motivation’” in the workplace (33%).
Creating a motivated workforce is no easy task to undertake and there are a number of proven techniques and models that can be implemented to try and achieve this.
Relating this directly with the current skills shortage in the UK market place, there is a real need to first motivate these staff members to want to learn and gain new skills.
It is of vital importance to remember that motivation is self governed and cannot simply be commanded or demanded by managers.
Motivation to succeed and advance in the work or any facet of life is down to the individual’s attitude.
Therefore an excellent way companies can try and encourage motivation in staff, and hence close the gap in terms of the skill shortages in the workplace, is to empower their staff.
Accountability in the workplace can breed motivation through increasing employees self-belief, giving them a feeling of belonging and being responsible for achieving the goals of the organisation.
Furthermore, if employees are accountable and motivated to succeed, they are much more likely to try harder to exceed the goals that they are set.
The Accountability Cycle
So, how do you make employees more accountable in the work place?
The easiest solution is to simply divide up the tasks and duties and assign a number of them to each member of staff.
However, doing just this will not result in the desired effect of increased motivation. The much more likely outcome is that staff will feel even more de-motivated and less willing to increase skills because they have been overloaded with more tasks!
In order to ensure that the correct results are achieved a simple model to follow is the “accountability cycle”.
The initial stage of this cycle is responsibility: asking an employee to take charge of a certain task.
This needs to be approached as a request for their help or expertise rather than a direct order.
When appointing responsibility to an employee be sure to set clear guidelines as to what is expected so that everyone is clear as to what needs to be done and by whom.
Second in the accountability cycle is the empowerment stage. This is vitally
important if the process is to work.
Once the employee has been given the responsibility for a task they must then be given total control over it to ensure that it is carried out correctly.
This can sometimes be difficult for managers to do as it involves them handing over some of their power, whether it is speaking to important customers, presenting to directors or writing reports.
However the benefits of doing this can be two-fold, not only will this increase staff motivation, but also it gives managers more time to develop and train their employees.
Finally in the cycle there is the accountability stage.
During the initial stage (responsibility) it should be made clear to the employee that the outcome of the task/duties that they have undertaken is totally theirs, whether positive or negative.
Once they have taken ownership of a project and are empowered to move it forward, they are also responsible for the results.
Giving employees accountability will instil in them a personal willingness to succeed, partly to receive praise and partly due to the fear of failure.
Training and Development
However, as effective as this model can be for improving motivation it can only help the willingness of employees to improve their skill levels.
If companies are going to significantly increase skills in the workplace they must also begin to invest heavily in staff training and development.
Over 40% of the companies surveyed by the LSC stated that they had not provided any form of training for their employees within the last 12 months.
It is this lack of training that has caused such a gap in worker’s skills, which accountants Ernst & Young, in a recent BBC article, estimated the cost to UK industry to be ‘’as high as £10bn annually’’.