Every leader and manager in every industry and every different type and size of organisation wants all of their people to come to work every day feeling highly motivated so that they perform to the very best of their ability AND feel great about doing so.
The idea that there are 7 (or 9 or 4…whatever the number, we’d be on board with it!) certain ways to motivate your people is very appealing. It’s such a vital factor in organisational success that most people would do whatever was needed if the results could be guaranteed.
In reality, we know that this is simply not the case. If you’ve led a team of any kind for any length of time, you’ll know that people are not that easily manipulated. You can’t just get them to think, feel and behave as you’d like them to. In fact, often the more people sense that things are being done ‘to them’ in an attempt to get them to comply with certain expectations, the more they push against that.
The leadership challenge of the current time is as big as it gets. Much of the workforce is dispersed geographically and divided ideologically. Some want to come to work. Some don’t. Some do a bit, but not as much as others think they should. Every leader has their own view of what they’d like for their team and has to balance this with sensitivity to the circumstances of each individual and the wishes of their own organisation’s leadership. Tough job doesn’t begin to describe it!
In the midst of it all, the work still needs to be done. Productivity is paramount. We need highly skilled AND highly motivated people.
Where were those 7 guaranteed ways to motivate, again?
The stark reality is that you should give up trying to motivate anyone. You simply can’t, and this realisation is a key moment for every manager and leader.
You can’t motivate others, but you can provide the environment which is conducive to people to people becoming (or remaining) self-motivated.
Equally, the environment created can easily become one which is likely to decrease people’s motivation.
If I’m grossly underpaid, guess what? I’m likely to lack motivation.
If I’m treated as a cog in a machine, as a productivity tool with arbitrary targets and subject to impersonal appraisal techniques, this too will leave me feeling disrespected, devalued and, yes, demotivated.
We could continue this list ad-infinitum.
Perhaps it’s worth taking a few minutes right now to add to your own. Write the heading, “I would feel demotivated if…” and list as many things as you can. Then read back through the list and ask yourself the question, “Am I, or my organisation, doing any of these things?”
If so, the result is likely to be that some or all of the people working in your organisation are giving significantly less of themselves that they are capable of.
Low levels of motivation shouldn’t simply be accepted as normal. First and foremost, each individual is too important for that. The best leaders care deeply about the wellbeing of people and won’t settle for low morale and lack of engagement. The good thing is when leaders show this concern for people and strive to create the best environment they can for their staff, productivity tends to follow.