Motivation: What’s In It For Me?

Monday, November 30 2020

Leaders who understand motivation and its impact on their business will achieve greater results. Wikipeda defines motivation as “the reason for actions, willingness and goals. [It] is derived from the word motive which is defined as a need that requires satisfaction.” Simply put, motivation answers the question, “What’s in it for me?”

How do leaders engage and motivate employees? Let’s look at four approaches:

  1. Coaching is a key strategy. We ask questions and listen, provide clear direction, and set goals together. The beauty of coaching and meeting regularly with your direct reports is that it gives you the opportunity to get to know them better: what makes them tick, what gets them jazzed, what doesn’t…what motivates them.
  2. Some managers want to treat all their employees the same to avoid the perception of favouritism. But is that fair or equitable? When you have a team with varying tenure, responsibilities, and personalities it is unlikely they will appreciate the same set of goals, rewards and support. A less experienced person may find a goal too lofty, while someone more seasoned is excited to get started. While the goal is the same, it is not equal.
  3. Rewards can be fun, create healthy competition, and spice things up. The key is to be certain the expectations are clear and equitable for all. Alternatively, there are risks to using rewards as motivation:
  • Used alone, this method can set you up for disengaged employees. There is a risk some will consider rewards as the sole reason for performing their jobs effectively.
  • The reward you choose may hold little or no value for your staff.
  • If the reward is deemed too difficult to reach, little effort will be made. An individual may think “there is no point in trying, I don’t have a chance with ______ on the team.”
  1. Fear is another form of motivation, but it is archaic to threaten someone to produce needed results. Ultimately it generates stress and usually only meager outcomes. Are you very certain that fear is your only option? If you need to use fear you likely do not know what motivates that person; you haven’t done one-on-one coaching, and most important, have not built a trusting relationship. High trust built during good times will serve you and your team well through tough times.

So, do you know the why of your direct reports? If you’re not sure what motivates them, make it a goal to start asking. You may be surprised how simple it can be to show your appreciation and the return you’ll get on that investment.