Employee Motivation: What’s Your Score?

Motivating-LeaderAs a leader, how well do you score in employee motivation? Let’s face it: no matter your formal role or position in an organization, you are a motivator. Colleagues need to complete tasks, partners need to do their share, and employees need to become self-sufficient and responsible. 

I hear this all the time with my coaching clients. Executives, managers, and team leaders are all baffled when it comes to finding the right words to inspire enthusiasm and action.

If it weren’t hard enough to motivate ourselves when tired or bored, it’s even harder to persuade others into action. Motivating others is even more challenging when tasks are difficult, unclear, or distant from any immediate reward.

In spite of all that’s known about motivation, we continue to misunderstand it and fail to make good use of its true nature. We make assumptions about what drives people, grossly over-estimating the value of external rewards and under-estimating the power of simple appreciation and recognition.

The Search for Meaning

Motivating others can’t be reduced to a formula or list of steps to check off. That’s unfortunate for executives, managers, and team leaders. Yet everyone can do a better job of getting others to participate in needed tasks.

“It’s about connecting more deeply to what we do, to the outcome of our efforts, to others, and to our relationships.” Dan Ariely, Payoff: The Hidden Logic that Shapes Our Motivations, Simon & Schuster/TED, 2016.

Motivation drives us to achieve tasks that are difficult, challenging, and painful. We use motivation when there’s something that must be done to achieve a larger goal. When we are motivated, we will do things without joy and under unpleasant conditions. This is because the things that give a sense of meaning to life aren’t always the things that make us happy.

Humans care more deeply about meaning than simple happiness. Most of us will do whatever it takes to find meaning and feelings of connection. We motivate ourselves in a quest to find a purpose or cause bigger than ourselves and our daily routines.

“Knowing what drives us and others is an essential step toward enhancing the inherent joy – and minimizing the confusion – in our lives,” writes Dan Ariely.

What do you do when you need someone to act? How do you motivate other people? I’d love to hear from you. I can be reached here and on LinkedIn.

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