Motivating people doesn’t need to involve giving rah-rah speeches and dangling prizes for stellar performance. Sometimes, the best incentives are silent and invisible.
Consider the environment in which your employees work. Ideally, you provide a space where they can concentrate on excellence with a minimum of distractions.
When workers live in the moment and derive meaning from it, they don’t need lots of external motivation from their supervisor. They’re driven to succeed by the very nature of the activity.
If you set the stage for employees to feel fully absorbed by their jobs, then they can focus so deeply that nothing stands in their way. Psychologists call this flow—a state of total all-encompassing effort in which people lose track of time and even skip meals to continue working.
You can’t just tell your staff to become engrossed in their duties. They need to experience it on their own. But you can take steps to engineer the environment so that people drive themselves to greatness:
Allot blocks of uninterrupted time for people to produce results. The gift of unbroken time is an underappreciated motivator. To get employees to concentrate on an important task, tell them that they can focus (free of interruptions) for two or three hours. Alleviate their other concerns so they can just do the job in front of them.
Remove disruptive stimuli. Take away clocks, computers and other electronic equipment that are not necessary for the task at hand. You don’t want to tempt your employees to glance at their monitors, watch a ticking clock or hear periodic beeps from cell phones.