So what is this motivation thing? What does it mean? Can you motivate someone? And what is the best way to do it? For many, motivation comes down to either the carrot or the stick. With the carrot you give them a raise, a bonus or tie the monetary prize to piecework, reports or a job, hoping that they are now sufficiently motivated to keep pushing for excellence. With the stick you threaten, discipline, demote or take away job assignments, again with the hope that they will be “motivated” to do better. The problem with both of them is they are short term at best. They both can and do work, they both can change behavior, but the change is short lived at best and usually requires regular applications. Let’s face it, we are all underpaid. Find me someone who thinks they are paid what they are worth and I’ll show you someone who is underperforming and who doesn’t have the first clue as to what excellence really entails. Conversely, now find me someone who likes to be yelled at, who likes to never know where the boundaries are, and well, good luck finding that person. So the old carrot and stick has reduced us to either being a sugar daddy or a micromanaging dictator and our time and resources are being dedicated to really just hoping that our people are being motivated and are growing in the right direction. So is there a better way? Of course there is and it starts with you having the answers to a few simple questions: 1. Who are you? This question comes down to you knowing your strengths and weaknesses, being willing to grow yourself in the direction you really need to go, and being willing to take full responsibility for the position you currently hold.
2. Where are you going? How can you possibly grow the people you are responsible for unless you know precisely the direction you are headed in, the goal for the end of that journey, and the boundaries that are involved in that journey, such as time, money, resources, education levels, etc. 3. How are you going to get there? Yes, you need a plan, and one that can be tweaked as you go, but you need a plan. This is where you need to know your people, their strengths and weaknesses and who needs growing the most and in what direction. 4. What’s the next step? You are trying to help your people self motivate aren’t you? Unless they know exactly what’s happening and exactly what’s expected of them, you may be dead in the water before you even begin. So get your people together, lay it out, and please ask them for their input. They may save you much in solving the problems that every journey presents. Think of them as smart and resourceful and you may be surprised at the help you receive. So it seems that motivation is more about you than your people, huh? If you get that, you’re on your way. People want to follow a leader that’s authentic, one that has a clear vision of the path, and a plan to achieve it. Allowing them to participate in that plan is a huge first step to them self motivating, but it starts with the leader.