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Employee motivation and engagement

Stemming from three growth determinants, these hypotheses jointly influence ‘employee motivation’ and ‘employee opportunity to perform’. Entrepreneurial CEOs are not only found to be ambitious in terms of growth, but also to be good leaders. They are good leaders in the sense that they give employee motivation a high priority. Follower motivation cannot be seen separately from leadership (Handy, 1999). Literature on leadership is abundant and varied, but when we consider the studies carried out by three authors of classic works on leadership, Bass (2008), Handy (1999) and Yukl (2013), we see that the instruments Gazelles use to motivate their employees are not new: regular performance feedback, a culture of joint performance and the use of typical motivation instruments have often been shown to have positive effects on performance. A few studies have compared motivation practices of high growth firms with normal growth firms, and some of these studies indicate that high growth firms are less likely to follow traditional motivation practices (Buller and Napier, 1993; Heneman et al., 2008) but rather emphasise a strategic focus of motivation in line with a proactive visionary motivation philosophy (Heneman et al., 2008). It is the visionary part of motivation that fits the findings of this study. Thus, the more motivation instruments are used, the more the CEO works on company culture and the more performance feedback is given, the more growth momentum is created.

Growth momentum to achieve high organic growth

Employees who (i) are more aware of the company objectives, (ii) are more motivated to reach these objectives and (iii) are more engaged increase a company’s probability to hit its ambitious growth targets. This finding is line with Cobbenhagen (2000) who argues that frontrunners − unlike laggards − have a strong internal locus of control. That the success of a company is more than just the success of the entrepreneur has also been demonstrated by other scholars, for instance by Bouchikhi (1993).

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