A question that seems to come up in every client training session and workshop is, “How do I motivate my team, Joe, Frank, Susie or Martha?”
Unfortunately, you have very limited tools that can provide motivation to someone else. As Zig Ziglar said, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.”
There aren’t too many people who are going to let you give them a bath once they are in the workforce. But if there weren’t some solutions, this would be a very short column, and I’d be on my way to the slopes.
Historically, leaders have relied on two tools: the carrot and the stick. Rewards and punishment have been around forever and can achieve some short-term results. Abraham Lincoln said something to the effect that you can change a man on the outside, but if the inside doesn’t change, it is a waste of time. There are times and places when this strategy needs to be employed for results.
What I have learned over the years is that people do things for their own reasons. They might align with your reasons and they might not. Still, you both might get to where you want to be at the end of the day.
The first step I recommend is that you build trust with your team. This means investing time to get to know them on more than a first-name basis, but not to the point where you invite them over for Christmas dinner. Trust takes time to build — as a rule of thumb, if they will share some personal information with you, then you have a good level of trust.
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When I dig into complaints on lack of motivation it typically involves lack of progress at a job.
I like to break motivation down into two parts: the will to do the work and the skill to do the work. For more in-depth resources on this subject, look for “Situational Leadership” by Ken Blanchard and “Crucial Accountability,” titled “Crucial Conflicts” in earlier printings, by Kerry Patterson and a team of others.
I would suggest that you take the assessments that are provided free of charge by VitalSmarts at http://www.VitalSmarts.com/WhatWouldYouDo/. This assessment will help you understand any bias you might have, regarding skills or will. For example, I tend to believe they had the will to do the work; they just lack the skill to do the job. This is dangerous because I can miss will issues.
VitalSmarts also has a free planner to help you through the process: http://www.VitalSmarts.com/Resource-Center/.
The planner will take you through a series of diagnostic questions to determine what the challenge is for this person. The questions are in two categories: Skill or Will, and then three areas for each category: Personal, Social and Structural. You need to explore all areas when you’re in this diagnostic phase.
You will need to go into the questioning phase with an open mind, or as the authors say, “What is the story you’re telling yourself about this situation?”
The free conversation planner will give you some ideas of the questions to ask, and the book “Crucial Accountability” has more examples of questions you can ask.
With a proper diagnosis, you can help those who want to help themselves improve and excel at their jobs.
— John S. Benjamin is the founder of the Business Engineering Consortium. If you have questions or need more information, send an email to [email protected].