Staff morale and motivation

I have been speaking to leaders of creative businesses about what it will take to strengthen the morale and motivation of their creative staff.

I have seen some businesses that quantitatively poll their people, asking them to rank such things as their work-life balance on a scale, and also to rank their satisfaction with their salaries. Hmm. I wonder what sort of answers they are getting. Actually the answers they get are not that helpful and it is tough to know what to do with the information – which appears on a scale of 1-10. It is good that the attempt is made to discover the issues, but the combination of the questions asked and the numerical scales and the general resistance of creative types to filling out forms, makes it less useful than one might wish.

I suggest instead that they consider doing some qualitative research that would allow us to learn in more detail about the aspirations of the staff members and their drivers for success. It should be conducted in the spirit of a “positive enquiry” that will emphasize discovery of the strengths and the opportunities. Tailored of course to the organization, questions might include: “What do you look forward to every day when you come into the office?” ”What project that you did at the firm was most professionally satisfying and why?” “What opportunities do you see for yourself at the company?”

I recommend that these kinds of questions are posed by an outside investigator rather than someone from management or HR. The independent researcher usually gets franker responses than does someone from inside. When the findings have been carefully analyzed and the right insights obtained, this is likely to be a more productive survey than the quant – and in the right hands lead to constructive action steps.

And it can be a refreshing change from the familiar list of general gripes with no constructive way forward indicated.