Team membersHuman beings, by nature, are irrational.

Take, for instance, the marketing grocery stores do to get you to buy more. Buy three cans of corn for $2.95…even though each individual can is $0.99.

Rationally, it makes sense to buy the one can of corn, because that’s all we need, but we feel like we’re getting a deal to buy three cans.

So what does that have to do with leadership, and how can it help incentivize your team members?

Team Members and The Meaning of Work

Leaders make decisions based on what’s best for the company. But our team members don’t understand decisions made that way, according to Beyond Performance, a book by Scott Keller and Colin Price.

They say,

Social science points to five sources of meaning for humans at work: The impact of the work on society, the customer, the company, the team, and “me.” Most people are motivated by one of these more than others, and in large groups there are more or less equal shares of people motivated by each. So rational leaders don’t tap into the primary motivators of up to 80% of their workforce.

As well, Daniel Pink, the author of Drive, talks about how people are not motivated by money, yet that’s still the number one way leaders use to incentivize people.

So what are we to do with this kind of information?

Well, yesterday we discussed listening more and talking less, as a way to build loyalty, commitment, and morale. But there are other ways to incentivize team members as well.

Consider giving smaller and more frequent bonuses, such as gift cards, wine or champagne, or even a pound of coffee. Research shows that small gifts, or even extending perks like flexible hours or work from home opportunities, can help make team members more willing to go the extra mile, versus a big bonus at the end of each year.

Finally, encourage participation in company decisions by being transparent, but optimistic, about what’s going on. The positivity is always rewarded with team members providing solutions.

What are you doing to incentivize your team members?