Just as you can't force someone to love you, you can't "make" someone love their job. But you can create an environment wherein they will want to engage with their work and care about what they do, by fulfilling a few key human needs,
These human needs are to:
be valued as an individual
make a difference
connect with others and a bigger picture
By fulfilling these core human needs you can create an environment where they can choose to be engaged with their work. Note that money is not on the list; money does not buy engagement.
"You are more likely to like your job if you focus on the work itself and less likely to like your job if you focus on the money. " This quote rang true for me and what I have observed in the corporate world. There are limits to the ability to motivate with money and those limits are getting lower and lower with each generation it seems. However if you can shift the focus from money to the work itself, then there are significantly less limits to performance.
What I am talking about is shifting from a comparative to an achievement thinking style and so people become fully present and focussed on their work.
You as a manager of others, or manager of yourself, can facilitate this shift.
How you do this is by showing your team how they and their work:
makes a difference
is connected with a bigger picture
You can do this in 5 ways
Be the change you wish to see in them so they can visualise what it looks like
Role model the way you wish your team to behave. You are their leader and if they can see that this works, they are more likely to follow suit. Remember that 70-80% of what you communicate is through you body language so watch how you act.
Have 1-1s with people to show that they are valued and connect.
Spending time with your team means a lot to them as it is a signal that they are important. Use this time to find out about them and share your knowledge and expertise. Be present during this time. This does not have to take long and be formal. It can be done in 15 minutes a week.
Say thank you specifically about what they did to show what is valued and that this is appreciated.
A genuine thank you that explains what you appreciate about their performance, attitude or results will go a long way to improving results and engagement.
The thank you can also explain how their work connects with the bigger picture. When this is explained, the thank you means more and is a learning point for them as well. Aim for 5 thanks a day.
Give individualised recognition to show you value them as an individual
Find what your team members value as recognition and recognise using that. For example, I brought a six pack of the manager's favourite brand of soda in to say thanks and he was speechless. $8.00 well spent.
Remember everyone is an individual and not everyone likes the standing ovation for example.
Give them a chance to make a difference
Everyone wants to make a difference in their life and those with highest achievement thinking have this as a subconscious core belief.
By giving people opportunities to lead project teams, meetings, task forces, even the christmas party - you give them an opportunity to thrive. The opportunity to thrive is what people want more in this day and age than ever before.
This strategy also rewards people without having to move them up the ladder which is important when career paths are not linear nowadays.
Engagement with their work coupled with an achievement thinking style delivers the extra discretionary drive to reach higher levels of performance.
That extra discretionary drive - that is because they CARE.