L&D | Coaching: How does internal motivation fuel performance?

Coaching: How does internal motivation fuel performance?

Behind every unmotivated employee is a leadership problem waiting to be solved.

Yet many leaders see motivation as a game of rewards and punishment. Forget the cash. Forget the threats. To engage today’s workforce, a leader is well advised to seek the heart of what moves people: their three basic psychological needs: Competence, Relatedness, and Autonomy.

Download our Coaching Re-Defined POV paper as we explore Self-Determination Theory (SDT), needs-based coaching, and how to create a workplace where internal employee motivation can become a daily reality, leading to:

  • Increased engagement

  • Improved performance

  • Measurable business results

Sowing the seeds of a coaching culture

There's no doubt that the role of the manager has evolved. Leadership skills in the digital age are more about creating a fertile ground for teams to succeed, than a need for control and command. We believe that one of the most powerful behaviours a leader can demonstrate relates to cultivating a coaching culture.

The role of self-determination theory in everyday work

In an early study in the research that would become Self Determination Theory, Edward Deci gave two separate groups the mesmerizing “Soma Cube” puzzles to solve, placing magazines nearby:

  • He offered the first group a cash reward to solve the puzzle.

  • He offered the second group no reward, telling them only that he wanted to observe how they solved the puzzle.

After a time, Dr. Deci told each group that the test was over and he would return in 10 minutes with a survey. Instead, he observed the groups without their knowing.

Paid participants were much more likely to put down the puzzle and read the magazines. Unpaid participants were much more likely to continue working on the puzzles.

This finding, confirmed in dozens of studies across the globe, inspired decades of research leading to practical strategies for supporting internal motivation in the workplace.

A remarkable finding of worldwide SDT research is that everyone shares three basic psychological needs. Over 100 studies have confirmed that, compared to leaders who rely on rewards or threats, leaders who support satisfaction of these three psychological needs promote sustained internal motivation to achieve results:

COMPETENCE is the need to feel valued as knowledgeable, skilled, and experienced.
RELATEDNESS is the need to collaborate with colleagues and co-workers.
AUTONOMY is the need to exercise self-regulation, within guidelines, to achieve business goals.

Needs-based coaching

Needs-Based Coaching is a vital skill set that supports daily performance by creating conditions in which employees strive to satisfy their needs for competence, relatedness, and autonomy. AchieveForum has worked closely with Edward L. Deci, co-founder of Self-Determination Theory, to develop Needs-Based Coaching, which helps leaders at all levels engage employees, who in turn drive business results.

Four pillars underpin this approach to developing coaching capability among a critically important cohort – your first and mid-level leaders.

1. Giving Needs-Based Feedback
People want to use their abilities, connect with others, and guide their own efforts. Global SDT research has unequivocally established that—regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, culture, or life experiences—everyone shares these needs for competence, relatedness, and autonomy. Leaders can support internal motivation in employees by applying three best practices.

2. Realising Talent in Others
When an employee’s choices clash with organizational needs, effective leaders share information and redirect efforts—in other words, they give feedback. Giving feedback without undermining internal motivation is a serious challenge for every leader and requires an employee centered approach.

3. Offering Reward & Recognition
External rewards—cash incentives, trophies, incentive trips, promotions, time off, and so on—are strong medicine that, if poorly prescribed, undermine internal motivation. But are rewards always bad? Not at all, if used in need-supporting ways.

4. Shaping a Motivational Workplace
Employees have latent talents and existing skills that leaders often fail to leverage. Turning these talents into capabilities is a leader’s most important work—and a requirement for long-term organisational success.

To promote increased engagement, improved performance, and measurable business results, leaders do need to master the practical skills for shaping a workplace in which internal employee motivation can become a daily reality.

Download our Paper: Coaching Re-Defined

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