What motivates people? This is a really great question.
Motivated To Leave…
It reminds me of a ritual I actually witnessed in my first job upon graduating from college.
I was a supervisor for a market research company in Wisconsin. Most of the employees could tell you whether a 12 ounce tube of Colgate sold better in Peoria than a 16 ounce tube of “new and improved Colgate” in Albuquerque. Pretty interesting stuff.
It was so interesting that the employees would line up at the door at 4:15pm, with their coats on, ready to leave at 4:30, when they had permission from management to leave. (I’m serious. There was a time when things like this actually happened.)
Management was pretty ambivalent about this but felt obligated to periodically ask: “How come these people aren’t motivated?”
They asked that question until some smart-alec supervisor piped up and said:
“They are motivated! They’re motivated to leave.” (That would be me.)
My career there was rather short lived, which made everyone happy, especially me.
33 Million Ideas For Motivation
A lot has changed since then. There are more books and training programs than ever on leadership and management. The topic of “employee motivation” had over 33 million possibilities on the Internet. Did you know that for $179, in one day, you can learn 6 steps to progressive discipline, 3 basics of motivation, 5 listening techniques that pay off, and tricks to knowing body language… and best of all …“when to use logic.”
Wow. Who would have thought that logic could be motivating?
Current best selling leadership books can tell you how to drive, tip or lean in. You can learn to “think like a freak,” not to be confused with being a “duck commander” or when all else fails, lead with happiness.
With all the “enlightened leadership” available to us, some things haven’t changed since my days at the market research company. One is that I’m still a smart-alec and people still want to know how to motivate people. Apparently the 101 ways to motivational nirvana didn’t work.
Motivation In The Real World
So I thought I would ask some successful business owners and leaders how to motivate people in the real world. I call it: Reality Centered Leadership.
Some became pensive and professorial.
- Money – hhmmm, but money doesn’t motivate everyone. And it isn’t a good motivator for the long term.
- You need to have clear expectations and you need to give timely, positive and constructive feedback.
- Oh yeah, and an open door policy and creating the right environment.
A few became Zen-like…. Or maybe more like Dr. Phil…
You really can’t motivate other people. Motivation comes from within.
A little frustrated with the “right answers,” I asked these people if they actually did or tried any of these things.
Once in a while.
So why don’t you do it?
I shouldn’t have to.
I have my own work to do.
Now that’s reality. Finally a little honesty.
Take A Look In The Mirror
So here’s some coaching for how to motivate people.
Look in the mirror and ask yourself what kind of a leader you really are and if you really want to motivate others.
If you truly want to make a difference in your organization and with your team, think about who you want to be as a leader. What specific qualities do you want to be known for? Write down your top three. For example: Empowering. Integrity. Motivating.
Practice Your Key Words
Then, as you go about your day, especially in challenging situations, ask yourself the following questions related to your key words, then follow that guidance.
- What would I be doing if I was empowering people?
- What would I be saying if I was motivating others?
- What would be the best decision for the team, the company and the customer if I was leading with integrity?
I guarantee you that your responses will be very different if you ask yourself these questions first. And most the actions and responses will be more closely aligned with the type of leader you really want to be. Practice doing this for a month or more.
If you’re really brave, ask some trusted colleagues or staff for feedback on how you’re doing and if they notice any differences in your leadership style.
Watch for positives changes that occur in your team’s absenteeism, sales, morale, engagement or productivity.
If no changes occur, give me a call and we’ll figure out how to be a more authentic leader and create a more motivated, engaged and productive team.
Marty Stanley is a national speaker, author, executive coach and consultant on organizational change. Want help motivating your team? Give Marty a call at 816-695-5453 or email@example.com www.alteringoutcomes.com