Berna Özdemirkan

February 2018 – Brandmap: 

The satisfaction, engagement and motivation scores of the white collars in the last three years show that the engagement of employees were also affected by the negative situation in Turkey during 2016. And in 2017, we were back to the levels of 2015. But there is one point that attracts attention: the motivation scores. Regardless of whatever happens, the employees claim that they do not lose their motivations.

This is based on the results of surveys conducted with a total of 24,462 white collar employees between the years of 2014 and 2016.

The definition of “motivate” in the dictionary is “to provide with a motive, or a cause or reason to act; incite”. Desire to act, complete and achieve. The above-given results were obtained by asking the following 3 questions to the employees:

  • How frequently do you work with high motivation?
  • How frequently are you glad to do your job?
  • How frequently do you enjoy your work?

This is a common situation when we look at the data in its entirety as we did above or when we examine a specific company. So why is their motivation high when they are not satisfied or committed? Actually, the employees are trying to give the following message: “I am doing the best I can, I work with high motivation, I am in fact successful but my efforts are not sufficiently rewarded my company.” In the research performed on various cultures in other countries, we can see that the motivation degrees are correlated with the satisfaction or engagement score. However, in Turkish culture and similar cultures, the balance between these indicators is generally problematic, but it is still possible to see more correlated results in various employee groups such as the engineers or the IT personnel just like in overseas. It seems that as the analytical thinking and reasoning skills increase, people reply the surveys in more realistic ways. In short, they say I am not satisfied, so I am not motivated.

So, we see how extremely important it is to conduct combined analyses or comments instead of looking at the mere research data. For example, if we look at the percentage distribution of the highly committed and motivated group that we name as the chivalrous employees (or knights), while 56% of the white-collar employees were chivalrous in 2015, this drops to 52% in 2016 and rises back to 57% in 2017.

Another perspective would be to compare the motivation degrees declared by the employees themselves and the performance scores given to them by the company. At this point, we are not surprised anymore, so you should not be surprised either to see that the employees with lower performance scores are the ones that report very high motivation levels in the surveys. The employees, whose contributions to the company in their own comfort zones are not actually appreciated by the company, do not hesitate to declare that they are working with high motivation.

So, the company management should stop and make a serious assessment. If they don’t provide feedback to the employees as required, the employees can easily see themselves as they wish to do. Feedback culture is unfortunately something that we, as Turkey, is weak at. We cannot manage to see business as business, and we perceive any feedback as a personal attack.

While the most important thing that affected the motivation of employees was the business itself 3 years ago, we see now that the highest motivation source for employees is for their company to make them feel successful. In short, it appears that the feedback regarding the success or the failure of employees is a very important motivation tool for them.

Whereas, the managers still tend to give high scores while evaluating the performances of their employees. This has various reasons:

  1. They cannot clearly identify the KPIs that they are supposed to evaluate their employees. And when this is the case, they cannot prove the poor performance.
  2. They cannot assign challenging targets. Easily achievable targets cause the individuals to always feel successful and the managers fail to prove the contrary.
  3. They are worried due to the restricted budgets. Since they know that the company would probably avoid replacing lost employees due to budget restrictions, they keep the performance scores high in order not to offend their employees.
  4. They are not like the managers of the employees, but rather the friends. Management is a talent. Being close to employees is nice, but being too close puts the managers into a bad spot while making evaluations and prevent them from being realistic.

For example, the statements that I frequently hear from the employees in group research are as follows: “My manager gave me an A for my performance, but there is a quota, it returned from Human Resources, so they had to lower it.” When I hear this, I get the urgent feeling to confront that manager and hear the truth. Did the manager really believe that the employee had an A performance or is this a management method used to comfortably grade the employees as required? It doesn’t matter that how low the performance score is, the employee already sees their performance as A, and that won’t change. The employees already began thinking “I am not satisfied, I am not engaged but my motivation is high since I am doing more than my part”. They won’t be wrong either, their performance were named to be high.

To free ourselves from this situation, the managers should be followed closely, trained about providing feedback, coached about management and rotated as frequently as needed. It would also be good to constantly inform the employees about how to receive feedback starting from their very first day of employment. The company should be based on a culture of receiving and providing feedback. The first step on the path of personal development is the ability to receive feedback. When you cannot establish such a culture, you will have to continue your journey with an army of unhappy employees and unhappy managers. But obviously, you will have to overcome many obstacles on this journey.