You can motivate employees. You can motivate them to be angry. You can motivate them to be happy. You can motivate them to do what they don’t want to do.
As a leader, you are expected to motivate people ( to start or stop doing something ) so you get the results the organization wants.
In short, most often, your task is to motivate people to love what they hate.
Again, you can do it. But trying to motivate people all the time will waste much of your time.
Because external motivation does not last
Many leaders got it wrong. They think that for their people to perform well, they have to motivate them by dangling a carrot or showing a stick.
Employees must give their best in order for them to get a reward, a bonus, or a salary increase. They get penalized for underachievement. Motivation sometimes appear both as intimidation and manipulation.
Many organizations oblige managers motivate people. Unfortunately, unmotivated employees and demotivating bosses are common in the workplace.
This is why managers are sent to How to Motivate Employees and other attractive leadership seminars.
They learned dozens of strategies to influence people. They picked hundreds of tricks. They studied the science of motivation from speakers who make a living out of “motivating” people.
And once a year, they hire motivational speakers who get paid for injecting motivation into every soul.
Internal motivation is more powerful
Motivation is not a by-product of strategies and tricks.
Managers who keep on motivating people will one day find themselves demotivated and demotivating. Because it is a burden to push or pull people towards something they hate.
Motivation is not your job.
To think so is a mistake. This thinking gives you all the credit, puts you on a pedestal, makes you the hero from whom everyone depends.
You deserve that admiration of people for doing your role as a leader. But call a spade a spade.
People are always motivated.
To motivate people so they become more productive is missing the point big time. There are many overmotivated underachievers in the workplace.
There are many who are motivated not to give the best performance.
There are many who are sick-and-tired of being pushed or pulled by their leaders to something they hate.
People will move to where they want to go. They avoid what they hate.
For example, your salespeople will sell more if they’ll choose to become better salespeople. Your secretary will become more diligent and passionate secretary if she’ll choose to be.
You can make them walk on fire and you can make them believe that they are powerful beyond measure. But this too doesn’t last.
So stop motivating employees.
Instead, find out their motivation. Your employee have dreams. They have purposes. They have reasons for doing what they are doing today.
What I suggest you to do is to find out what motivates your people. You need to wear their shoes. Understand where they are coming from.
Find out how your motivation (of improving productivity, sales, et cetera) is connected to their motivation (send kids to school, have decent lives, et cetera) and you’ll be able to get what motivates both of you.
A simple mind switch about motivation and motivating people will move you far.
1. Invest time in people. Interview them. Find out what motivates them.
2. Use an empathy map. This tool can help you understand where they are coming from.