Being Motivational:  Ways We Might Get Motivation Wrong

Can you motivate others?

Can you motivate?  Yes or no?  Do you consider this part of  your role as a manager?

What is your belief?

Question 2:  Why don’t employees perform?

Many times I hear….lack of training, tools, knowledge, lack of engagement, , unclear goals, personal issues, lack direction, no feedback …..and…they don’t care, they lack purpose, they’re lazy.  Ugh.  But if you can motivate them, and that’s your job.  What’s the disconnect?  Why would there be people who are unmotivated if we can motivate them?

The reality is that people are already motivated.  They may not, however, be motivated to what you want them to do.

Your job is to create an environment in which others are motivated to perform at their best.  Bring out their motivation, their energy.

How?  What are all the ways you can motivate?

  • Pay
  • Perks
  • New assignments
  • Thank you’s
  • Recognition public or private
  • Challenging work
  • Gift cards and other gifts
  • Training
  • Coffee, cookies, doughnuts
  • Soooooooooooooooooooo  many more

Do you know the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivators?

Extrinsic motivators are from outside of you, intrinsic motivators are from within you.

One is about what I receive after I complete a task, which may be expected or unexpected.  The other is about the experience while I’m completing the task.

·         Which is more common?  = Extrinsic

·         More sustainable? = Intrinsic

·         More difficult to execute?   Intrinsic

While we can’t change who people are, what we can do is help them to discover their intrinsic motivators. And also connect or align intrinsic motivators with things that maybe we enjoy less.

How I wish I would have discovered that earlier in my career.

Early in my career, it was all about progression.  Managing my first team, then a larger one.  Then combining units with another group, then expanding again.  The scope of my responsibilities continued to increase, and my position elevated—and boy did that feel great.  Or did it?

I was motivated for the end result.  In hindsight was I really intrinsically motivated in doing the work?  Did I enjoy the politics inherent in my role?  The more I got away from the actual learning experience, the less satisfied I was.  But a lack of self-awareness, or my comfort in my role and comp and bonuses kept me there.

But now, it’s about doing what I love to do.  Not pursuing the tangible but recognizing that by pursuing the work I love, the tangibles come anyway.  Ah, that’s the beauty of the universe.

Here are 4 ways to begin to understand intrinsic motivation:

  1. Take a strengths assessment:  See, Discover Your Strengths, by Don Clifton (from Gallup)
  2. Explore a work based personality assessments:  DiSC assessments have a version for managers, individual contributors and leaders which have a behavioral focus and are excellent tools about our energy (and what drains us!)
  3. Consider the Individual Dimensions Inventory:   this is an assessment tool from Management Research Group, and focuses on the emotional satisfaction we get from work related dimensions (I am also certified on this tool and can also get you more information if you are interested)
  4. Take a values inventory:  learn your core beliefs; are they aligned with what you are doing?  The Values Institute on Character offers a freebie:  The VIA Survey: 31 Ways to Recognize Your Strengths and Act on Them (

Planting some leadership seeds:

  • Understand various types of motivators; get to know your employees and their preferences for both extrinsic and intrinsic motivators.
    • Use extrinsic strategically:  be thoughtful, reinforce specifics, point out what you want more of from others around you, not a general “hey you’re awesome” type of reinforcement (feels good, but could lack impact).
  • Do a wellness check up on you:  choose one of the 4 ways to identify motivators, discover something new about yourself—where are you aligned in being intrinsically motivated, where are you not in alignment?
  • Take action, one small step to strengthen the motivational environment for you, for your team.

 “Pursue what catches your heart, not what catches your eyes.”

― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart