Motivating ourselves. Motivating others.
How do we do it?
My dad once told me that he knew what men were motivated by — money, supporting their families.
He had a management position at Commercial Credit and Ford Motor Credit. He also said that he never could figure out what women in the workplace were motivated by. I wasn’t really sure what he meant by that and took the comment as a sexist one even though I know he’s not. Looking back on this conversation, I assume when he said he knew what motivated men, he was actually talking about one man — himself. And there are probably many other men and women who value what he values. But just as individuals have different personalities and values, there are also various things that motivate people.
I’ve had several management or leadership positions over the years (though I would never say that this is my strong suit, and in fact, I feel way out of my element in these roles), and the issue of motivation has reoccurred alot. As I’m typing this, I’m realizing that part of the reason why I feel out of my element in these roles is that no job or college class has ever trained me to recognize what motivates people. And why not? This seems so important. It could mean the difference between a happy worker and letting that same worker go because of demotivation issues.
I tend to be a task-oriented worker. I focus on what needs to be done and who can do it best (and who likes to do it). While this is an ok approach, I’m realizing that a combination of this approach with focusing on what motivates people is an even better one. In other words, spending as much energy on the people around me as I do on tasks would be a great thing.
What motivates me: I like to feel productive and see what I’ve completed, I enjoy joking with co-workers and working on projects together, I also enjoy working by myself and problem-solving / tinkering. Most of all, I need a positive, supportive environment in order to flourish (or else I wilt or leave).
A very important thing for me to remember is not to assume that this is what everyone else is seeking in their work environment. We all have the same basic needs — food, water, shelter. But when it comes to work satisfaction, our values vary. Some people’s primary focus is meeting their “existence needs” by earning money, some folks want to meet their “relatedness” needs by making connections with others, some want to earn promotions and learn new things, meeting their “growth” needs, or any combination of these three categories. I’ve recently been told that everyone has the same needs, just in varying degrees.
Through my research I discovered this info on what to look for when learning to motivate others (can work for motivating yourself too):
How Do you Know When Staff and Employees are Demotivated
• Increased sickness
• Increased absenteeism
• Poor quality of work
• Lack of communication
Why Do People Become Demotivated
• Lack of recognition
• Lack of involvement
• Not being listened to
• Lack of encouragement
• Lack of training
• No delegation
• Too much work
Motivating People with Existence Needs
• Pay people enough
• Safe workplace and good environment
• Set goals
• Treat people as individuals
Motivating People with Relatedness Needs
• Show respect
• Delegate – give responsibility
• Give recognition
• Involve people in decision-making
• Encourage ideas
• Praise people
• Get to know people
• Team building days and office away days
• Celebrate success
Motivating People with Growth Needs
• Offer support to complete new tasks
• Give staff and employees a challenge
• Work should be made interesting
• Encourage people to think for themselves
• Keep people informed
• Ask people what motivates them
• Stretch people with new work
• Offer training where possible
I’ve been lucky in the past, having a few managers or leaders who worked with me that were tuned into these things, but it wasn’t because they had classes or job training on motivation. It was just part of their personalities to tune into people. But what about the rest of us? From small businesses to corporations, “how to motivate others” should definitely be something that is taught and learned. It shouldn’t be something that is looked over or assumed that everyone knows.
The reason I’m bringing this up is because a young, friendly fella at my workplace is extremely demotivated and it brings down the whole vibe of the team. I know he’s a smart, good-hearted, talented person. So what do you do in this situation? None of us know, including the person who’s in charge. Her solution so far has been to cut his hours. Last week he was sent home a little early and two of us were left to clean up after he was gone. The other person mentioned that this was not a good way to handle his demotivation because it just encourages him to get out of clean-up and other not-so-fun activities. Even though this is not really my problem, I’m interested in a possible solution. I do know that he enjoys working with me, and I’m guessing it’s because I treat him as an equal, attempt to engage him in teamwork activities, and joke around with him.
This blog post doesn’t really offer any answers when it comes to figuring out motivation, but I hope it’s a conversation starter. And perhaps the awareness of the motivation issue in general will bring about possible solutions.
Feel free to share ideas, comments, and work-related or non-work-related motivation scenarios from your life.