Motivation is the cause of our actions. It is the driving force to live and the fuel of our life. Motivation is a series of internal and external factors that inspire us to achieve dreams, goals, and specific objectives. Motivation is the force that drives human beings to act; it can be individual or group forces, and it is what helps us complete projects and thrive at work.
In order to motivate a person, a leader will need to know what motivates an employee and the engines that drive that person. The manager will need to take into account that each person has interests and traits that are different from the rest of the team members and from the manager as well.
Some of the drivers that act as motivation engines are:
- Fulfilling our essential needs (food, housing, and health): This is the most basic of our motivators, but it is one that is still very valid and needs to be taken into account. Think back to when you left home and wanted to be an independent person. If you have a family, remember back to when you had your first kid and realized that you had to provide for your family.
- Happiness and wellbeing: We are constantly moved by the desire to improve our quality of life; we make constant changes to our lives so we can improve our happiness levels and the happiness of people around us.
- Social relations: We are social animals; both introverts and extroverts have the need to belong to a social group where they can develop themselves and get support from the group.
- Recognition and acceptance: Appreciation and respect are key factors when understanding motivation. Good leaders will verbalize all the achievements made by each team member and move towards positive motivation.
- Professional and personal growth: The constant feeling that we are improving, and that we are a motor for our company, family, and community is a huge driver for many people.
- Moving up: Is there something more satisfying than working on an objective that you have had for a very long time and finally achieving it?
- Reaching dreams and goals: Both teams and individuals need objectives that they can focus on and that give direction, encouragement, and a sense of general improvement.
Here’s an exercise that you can perform to find out the motivations behind your team members:
EXERCISE: BEFORE DISCOVERING THE MOTIVATIONS OF YOUR TEAM, ASK YOURSELF: WHAT ARE YOUR MOTIVATORS IN LIFE? MAKE A LIST OF 7 THINGS THAT MOTIVATE YOU TO LIVE. IF YOU FEEL LOST, LOOK AT THE ABOVE LIST AND TRY TO FIND MOTIVATORS IN YOUR OWN LIFE. SOME ANSWERS MIGHT BE EXPERIENCES YOU WANT TO LIVE, WORK THAT HAS A SPECIFIC AND MOVING PURPOSE, PROJECTS YOU ARE EXCITED ABOUT, HOBBIES THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY, ETC.…
Get To Know Your Team So You Can Motivate Them
Only through knowing what moves your team members will you will be able to empower their motivation drivers. Then you will resonate with them, and you will be able to advance together towards the company goals. The “carrot and stick” techniques might work in the short run, but they are detrimental in the long run; if you want a sustainable and profitable relation with your employees, take time to get to know what they want, why they are in the company, and help them achieve their goals.
What do you need to know about your team members in order to motivate them?
- Personality: Get to know their interests, what they like, what they dislike, and their passions. You will learn a lot by asking why they like the things they like and why they don’t like some things. Just listen carefully to what the person is saying and ask questions without giving any judgment on the answers you get. There is a number of self-assessment tests that can help you discover more about the personality of your team members.
- Expectations: What does the person expect of themselves? What do they expect of you? And of the company?
- Interrelations: What relations has the person established inside the team? Are they positive relations? Might they be a little toxic? Learn about them so you can address them.
- Purpose: Why is that person in the company? With what company values does the person identify with? What part of the company’s mission does that team member thrive in? How does the employee see himself/herself in the global picture of the company vision?
- Strengths and skills: By knowing the strong suits of all your employees, you will be able to empower them, make them feel good about themselves, and use those assets to build a better team.
- Weaknesses and areas to improve: Your team will have a variety of strengths and weaknesses; learn about them so you can help team members improve. By improving each person’s weaknesses, you will create more bonding with the team members, and a sense of duty will increase too.
- Potential: Based on what you know about their strengths and weaknesses, imagine the potential that each employee has inside of them, and help him or her achieve it.
EXERCISE: BASED ON THE ABOVE POINTS, THINK ABOUT HOW WELL YOU KNOW EACH TEAM MEMBER. RATE YOUR KNOWLEDGE ON A 1-5 SCALE FOR EACH POINT (5 BEING THE HIGHEST). WORK ON ALL THE POINTS WHERE YOU RATED YOUR KNOWLEDGE AS A 3 OR LESS. HOW? MEET WITH THAT TEAM MEMBER, GET TO KNOW HIM/HER, AND ASK QUESTIONS. DURING THE CONVERSATION, BE MINDFUL: DON’T JUDGE THE ANSWERS, BE OPEN-MINDED, AND DON’T REACT AUTOMATICALLY TO WHAT THEY SAY; LISTEN IN AN ACTIVE WAY.
Types of Motivation Found In The Workplace
Understanding the kinds of motivation there are and how they interact with each other will help you have a better understanding of what moves the people in your team:
- External Motivation: When the reasons for our actions come from outside of the people we love: from our boss, the socioeconomic context, experiences we have lived or seen in the past, etc. This motivation tends to take us away from our real needs and should only be used during short periods of time and with precaution. It is always better to negotiate with external factors and find a win-win situation for everybody.
- Internal Motivation: Factors that are produced by the internal part of the person; our dreams, desires, feelings, thoughts, etc. As a manager, it is really important that you know about the goals that person has so you can help him/her achieve them.
- Personal motivation: Individual and personal forces that allow us to thrive. When the values and purpose of personal motivation are the same as the company’s or team’s purpose, things become much easier for the manager.
- Team motivation: When the team bonds through common goals and a feeling of team membership, creating unity among team members, this can work wonders. Just don’t overdo it!
- Material motivation: Bonuses, higher wages, perks, etc.… This motivation needs to exist, but it cannot be the only kind and cannot be what the job is centered around. Studies have shown that too much material motivation decreases creativity, and teams effected by this don’t find ways of improving because they just want material stability.
- Negative Motivation: This is the motivation that is activated when our only purpose is to “survive.” We label it as negative because when we experience this kind of motivation, we feel stressed, and our energy is used up really fast and drains us. Too often, the result of this kind of motivation is frustration, as it pressures people and is accompanied by many failed attempts.
- Emotional motivation: Being happy about what we do; it is the emotional wage that we need in order to continue. Again, use it, but in small doses. It needs to be there, but don’t overdo it, otherwise the team will feel emotionally exhausted. Also, this motivation doesn’t work for everybody.
- Positive motivation: Also called optimal motivation. As a leader, this is your ultimate goal, and it is what employees need and desire. According to The Ken Blanchard Companies, it is “the experience of satisfying one’s psychological need for autonomy, relatedness, and competence in the pursuit and achievement of meaningful goals that lead to positive and sustainable energy, vitality, and sense of well-being.” Positive motivation is the most powerful of all motivations and will lead us straight to the goal. It is also the most sustainable of all; why? It:
- improves results
- increases safety and health
- improves the organizational climate
- helps the development of potential team members
- activates a positive, emotional mindset that retro feeds itself and gets reproduced by other team members
The job of an effective leader is not to motivate every single person all day long; what an effective leader does is to create a workplace where people are going to experience optimal motivation. The idea is to create a positive environment where team members can grow, and where a team doesn’t depend on the constant motivation of their leader.
EXERCISE: ASK YOURSELF, “WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY AT WORK?” AFTER YOU GET TO KNOW YOUR TEAM MEMBERS WELL ENOUGH, TRY TO BRING UP A CONVERSATION WHERE THEY CAN TELL YOU ABOUT WHAT MAKES THEM FEEL HAPPY AT WORK.
5 Steps To Start Creating A Positive And Motivating Environment
- Identify what kind of motivation (from the above list) your team is using.
- Understand the needs of your team by getting to know what their motivations and desires are.
- Examine yourself as a team leader. What series of improvements can you do in order to be a resonant leader?
- Examine the possibilities:
- What kind of motivations need to be eliminated or diminished? Why?
- What kinds of motivations need to be potentiated in order to satisfy your team’s needs of growth and your company’s need of quality and effectiveness? Why? Instead of just adding more incentives, first ask why that person is not motivated enough in a particular aspect and move from there. Try to understand why there is not enough motivation. Do not just add new incentives.
- Start shifting towards a positive motivation. Re-frame tasks and goals if you need to. Remember that the ultimate goal is not to be a motivation engine for the team, but to have a team that is balanced enough to work and find motivation by themselves. You are only a mindful guide in their needs for improvement and growth.
So there you have, actions that you can take to create a positive and motivating environment in your workplace. As always the case, desired results are not always guaranteed just because you took actions. Your effort needs to be complimented with the intention of learning, where every step you take is a carefully thought out activity to seek accurate information from the team members you care about. In other words, trial and error your way to building a terrific team. The taboo of dealing with team dynamics is to assume.
And the best way to do avoid assumptions? Ask.
PS: Have some burning questions to ask? Drop an email to email@example.com. I answer every email.
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