Employee retention and motivation – Part 3


You may have accepted my invitation from the September blog and reflected on how often you communicate with your employees and, above all, on what basis these conversations take place. Have you asked about and exchanged mutual wishes, needs and expectations? And what was the result of your reflection?

Perhaps you’ve also wondered where my recommendation for conversations of this kind comes from? To answer this question, let’s turn to an insight by German neurobiologist Gerald Hüther. He has explored the question of how we should ideally deal with goals and their respective meaning for employees, what effect this has on motivation and thereby, ultimately on employee retention, too.

Gerald Hüther has coined a “growth and relatedness” model. He assumes that goals provide orientation and can thus serve to motivate. These goals should be set interactively in a discussion between the manager and the employee. Of course, they should be based on the goals of the department and company and should be designed in a meaningful way. Why meaningful? Because, according to Gerald Hüther, motivation arises from the relationship to the goal.

This relationship to the goal must be experienced by the employee as meaningful and include a personal growth perspective in the sense of a development perspective. Of course, only the respective employee will be able to tell whether a certain goal seems meaningful to them and truly worth striving for. 

This is the reason why appreciative, emphatic and authentic communication is needed; and this requires trusting framework conditions. 

In such a conversation, it is precisely the questions that exceed the factual that lead to success. Questions about individual needs, values and priorities. If these are explored together, goals can be set. If they are defined and set together, they can give rise to passion and motivation.

According to Gerald Hüther, another crucially important aspect is relatedness. In this context, relatedness means belonging and connection. Employees need to feel related to a group, such as a team, or to a specific person. Ideally, this is the manager. The Gallup study I reported on in the August blog found that it is the connection to the leader that has the power to create employee loyalty – or, as the case may be, not create it.

You may object that you conduct those types of conversations on a regular basis and that your employees often don’t even know or can’t describe what exactly they want or what elements and aspects would create meaning – and thereby motivation – for them.

This is a phenomenon we’re all familiar with, in ourselves, too. How often can we say exactly what we don’t want, but struggle to say what it is we do want? Why should your employees be any different? 

This is another argument in favor of high-quality conversations, which should have an investigative character with open and interested questions. It’s only when employees feel that they’re appreciated that they’ll truly be able to open up and explore with you what they find important. Trust is the key to success.

Of course, this also requires a fair amount of self-efficacy in the employees. What that means exactly and how the development of self-efficacy can be promoted is something I’ll explore in my November blog.

I look forward to seeing you there again.

Go for it,

Your crisis manager

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