Sandra, an excellent performer, was awarded the ‘Best Employee Award’ for three consecutive years. While most leaders acknowledged that she was one among the top three employees, her peers mostly gave her cold response to these achievements. Some chose not to respond and some said ‘Congratulations’ in a not so genuine tone. With repeated experiences like these from the past, what do you think Sandra would have started believing?
In reality, she stopped sharing her achievements with her peers. As a consequence, her motivation to contribute in discussions that needed peer inputs dropped, thus impacting her performance. Finally, she resigned and her exit interview comments said, “Only if I had peers as friends than contenders at work, I would have retired from this organization”
While there could be various reasons behind employees leaving organizations, most corporates do desire retaining top talents. How can peer motivation be a significant enabler in such scenarios?
Few years ago, a research conducted by an employee engagement firm, TINY pulse, revealed surprising results. Their survey conducted on employees from over five hundred plus organizations discovered that the number one reason for employees to go the extra mile at work was when they experienced camaraderie and peer motivation. 44% of the employees gave peer to peer recognition when they had an easy tool to do so. These results emphasize that organizations have a scope of using peer motivation to drive high performance and employee retention.
So, what could be few thought processes that may fizzle out peer motivation in organizations, leading to top talents resigning sooner than they should?
1. Your target, not mine: When performance targets are perceived as individual independent goals, there could be probabilities of not understanding the connect between ‘individual objectives’ and ‘team objectives’. One may not feel the need to comprehend objectives set for others. Therefore, employees are seen working in isolation that may affect peer motivation.
2. Your loss, my win: The definition of ‘win’ is often misunderstood by most of us. Individual win is mostly seen winning at the cost of a peer’s loss. With such a mindset, gaining cooperation from peers may become challenging and convert healthy competition to manipulative rivalry. In an environment like this peer motivation may drop drastically.
3. We hardly meet: Most teams function virtually today, therefore there are little opportunities to meet team members in person. However, when least efforts are made by employees to meet their peers, it may cause long time, no see leading to long time, no connect. As a result, bring down levels of engagement with each other.
4. We talk only work: When conversations among peers limits to work and only work, the personal bond goes missing. Relationships become transactional. This could lead to lesser interest in understanding what’s happening in one another’s lives and how it impacts their communication styles at work.
5. You are judging me: When peers make judgements on your actions and express them in open without being sensitive of further conclusions by others, it breaks hearts and it becomes very difficult to gain cooperation in future.
Like these reasons, there could be several causes behind employees not feeling united among peers. How could couple of behaviors and thought processes enable an environment that promotes peer motivation?
1. Use new connecting methods, without overlooking the old ones: WhatsApp, Twitter, Yammer and many more. There are communication methods available on your finger tips. Overuse and underuse of these methods may cause barriers in communication. Practice these methods complimenting them with face to face interactions as most of the business and personal problems get sorted faster when two people meet in person.
2. Experiment likeability check: It is a good idea to evaluate how many people in the team like you. 8 out of 10, 6 out 10 or 2 out of 10? How many of your peers stand by you when you need help? Do these peers volunteer help or pushed for assistance? Employees may closely observe behaviors to figure out their likeability ratio so, they could gauge peer support in the team for themselves.
3. Involve in tasks with dependencies: Getting involved in tasks that need dependencies may get you talking to peers for task accomplishments. This may also help you uncover qualities and abilities from either sides thus improving peer motivation.
4. Celebrate successes and failures together: Individuals do not win, teams win and so, is the case when failures come your way. Achievements and fiascos, both offer huge amount of learning. Instead of sighing alone after a failure and relaxing too much after a success, ensure that you reflect and celebrate both, victories and flops along with your peers.
5. Acknowledge collaboration: Acknowledge and encourage peers who support you and cooperate with you when you need them. Open-mindedness, listening to other viewpoints, receptivity and working well with the team. These are couple of actions that may give you signals of collaborative behaviors and inspire you to appreciate your peers on a timely basis.
6. Strike the right balance between formality and informality: All the reports, records and other forms that supply working information to various parts of an organization are included in the formal communication. Formality demands that the information flow takes a specific route only. As people go about their work, they have casual conversation with their friends in the office too. These conversations deal with both personal and business matters. One must strike the right balance between informal and formal conversations among peers to avoid burning bridges among themselves.
Most of the schools today, have specific grading systems to evaluate a child’s knowledge. With an available choice of preparing independently for respective academic grades, what drives the children to come together for group studies during exams? What makes them keep all their egos away, come together and work towards their academic performance? It is ‘peer motivation’. As adults, we must awaken the child within us, come together and start building stronger relationships at work thus giving more reasons to our fellow peers to stay back in organizations.