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On Motivation: Building Better Workplace Cultures

By Jenny Segal.

When we are motivated, work is not work. It is effortless. We are in the flow, doing something we love, producing our best, unaware that time is passing. Creative, productive and able to excel. Surely it is in our best interests to harness this, by fostering a work environment that maximises our motivation?

The cost to businesses of getting it wrong is very high. Demotivated employees do not deliver their best, impacting productivity. Demotivation leads to disgruntled staff and unplanned departures, causing disruption and slippage through management time, discontinuity, loss of experience and talent, loss of corporate memory and culture. And often it is the most valued employees who are the most marketable, and when they leave we are left with a disproportionately reduced pool of talent.

Culture and leadership have a huge impact on our motivation at work. We all know good management and leadership when we see it. And we love it. We crave it. It makes a huge difference to us: how we feel about ourselves, and how motivated, productive and happy we are in the workplace. Like our favourite teachers at school, our outstanding managers stay with us throughout our working lives, influencing and shaping our attitudes to work for our entire careers, setting the gold standard for our own behaviours as managers.

Yet so many of us have tales to tell of terrible managers who have deflated us, quashing our spirits and our productivity. And in extreme cases, destroying morale and damaging mental health.

So here is the conundrum. We all know the importance and the value of good management. We all know the qualities of a good manager. We all know that when we are actively looking to leave our job, it is usually our boss – not the business – that we are actually looking to leave. Given that we know all of this, why is it, when we ourselves are promoted into management and leadership positions, that so many of us fail to deliver?

This book explores what motivates people, what drives them to leave their organisations, and proposes some simple – but not necessarily easy – ways of fixing the problem.

“JIntelligent and passionate, this brilliant book is both thought-provoking and immediately useful. Jenny’s lively style creates momentum, making it an easily digestible read and the new ideas she presents are really important to anyone interested in getting the best out of people

Kate Philp – Director & Founder, Corran Consulting

A thought-provoking capsule collection of the wisdom which I wish I’d known when I was thrown into managing my first team 30 years ago. A must-read for new managers who care about culture, inclusion and excellence

Sally Bridgeland – Chair, Impax Asset Management Group


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