People will naturally be best at doing the things they like. For any budding leader, the question then is one of getting your followers to like the work you give them. “Liking their work” doesn’t refer to how much financial gratification they will be getting out of it, but rather a genuine desire to be good at the work they are given. Some people call it creating ‘purpose’. Today we’re going to look at an obscure, perhaps more selfish, form of purpose: Creating a personal stake.
Creating a Personal Stake
Why is it Effective?
Personal stakes operate on two levels. Firstly, it works on an empathic basis, where your workers feel that the project they are doing is important and meaningful. This is where genuine desire to contribute kicks in and your followers are intrinsically motivated to do well. This is effective because it often leads to individuals doing more than is expected of them, simply because they feel that the job at hand deserves their dedication.
Secondly, it works on a selfish basis: work to be better than everyone else. This is where the prospect for advancement or appreciation sparks an interest to perform. This form of personal stake is largely dependent on the personality of an individual. Some individuals are naturally competitive; others aren’t and require a nudge.
Creating the Empathic Basis
According to Malcolm Gladwell, there are three things required for a satisfying job. One of them is a connection between effort and reward. Simply put, personal stakes are created when you see the product of your hard work. This doesn’t mean waiting for a month to get your pay check. It means being able to see the actual effects of your contributions in carving out the project at hand. Some jobs allow workers to see their product; some have intangible effects. One technique is to follow-up any work sent in by a worker with a brief explanation of how that piece of worked has helped.
In certain cases, the work in itself is naturally engaging. Thus, workers are inclined to do well without any interference on your part.
Creating the Selfish Basis
In order to create this personal stake, the first thing you can try is to make the prospect of advancement present. This doesn’t just apply to things such as wage and bonuses, but also to the level of work. For example, some individuals are keen to branch out to other areas of their work. By providing that opportunity, perhaps with a few conditions, you would have created a personal stake for that person in the work given out. In more extreme cases, sometimes workers work for the sake of proving their worth. This is independent of the type or branch of work.
On the flipside, making a worker accountable for the results of a project is another way of creating a personal stake. With the knowledge that all results, be it good or bad, are the responsibility of themselves, a worker is more likely to put in the extra effort you desire. When using this method, it is important to note a few things. Firstly, make sure the level of accountability is reasonable and well within the capacity of that worker. This is to ensure that your worker knows that the work is being delegated, not dumped onto him/her. Secondly, if all goes well, do not attempt to claim credit personally as this would deter future use of this method.