Healthcare Informatics and Technology Investors
Healthcare Informatics and Technology Investors


About Team Role Theory

History & Research

Reliability & Validity

Dr. Meredith Belbin

Behavior vs. Personality



How Do You Motivate Your Employees?

by N. Halevy;; 6/18/14

Sometimes, when a CEO addresses his / her employees, less is more. That’s what Nir Halevy, a Stanford Graduate School of Business professor, found when he and Yair Berson, a professor at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, examined the best way leaders — whether they are country presidents, chief executives or midlevel managers — contact their followers. The two researchers looked specifically at something generally known as construal level theory, which states that the psychological distance between a leader and his or her followers influences the concreteness or abstractness of that leader’s communication in the eyes of followers.

In particular, they found that this right message from the right person — a concrete call to action from your leader all-around a follower with an abstract message from your leader hierarchically distant from a follower — elicited a stronger commitment and willingness to do something. Their studies also proved the contrary was true, that whenever distant leaders formulated concrete, overly detailed messages or when direct managers delivered abstract messages, their employees were less engaged, committed, and motivated.

Halevy emphasizes that his research demonstrates the individual rank of your leader isn’t crucial in motivating followers. Just because someone is really a C-level executive doesn’t mean his / her words will have more weight than a lower-ranking manager’s. “It’s the space between you and the person with whom you’re communicating that’s most important,” he says. “We’re not telling leaders avoid your rank; we’re saying consider the space, within the organization, of your audience by you. You should change and adapt the method that you communicate to produce some construal fit, because it has positive downstream consequences.” Those include greater job satisfaction, commitment, and social bonding.

With the final results of these studies in mind, Halevy says business leaders can take practical steps to better motivate, communicate, and manage their reports, whether are direct or indirect. “Think in regards to the omnipresence of micromanaging,” says Halevy. “A lot of men and women think it’s ideal to be a hands-on manager, that though I’m the CEO, I’m very ‘hands-on.’ What we’re saying with this particular paper is that sometimes that could actually backfire. Maybe it’s not a real good idea.” Halevy says managers can get their subordinates to accomplish more of what they need them to complete if there is construal fit. “You want your subordinates to internalize what you’re asking them to complete, sufficient reason for construal fit, it’s easier for individuals to process your message,” he says. “The less effort to process, the faster the action.”

The information you may also have a guide for mentorship programs, says Halevy, which traditionally take experienced, high-ranking executives and pair them young upstarts. Based for this new research, just the opposite may be true. Mentorship programs could possibly be more effective if mentors and mentees were closer in rank. “We found you obtain the best mentorship and feedback from the direct supervisors, along with a mentoring relationship you want to increase feedback,” he states.

Although Halevy focused on vertical, hierarchical distance, he states construal fit translates with other kinds of distances too, like spatial and, temporal. Think of the modern workplace, where people may be toiling remotely, in satellite offices, in virtual teams, or across different time zones. “We’re beginning to think exactly what it means to lead or follow from a variety of distances,” he states. “Leaders and followers must find ways to be effective effectively across these distances to complete at their highest potential.”