On Motivation

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Thinking about the way to maximize people’s involvement in your project, and full-heartedly follow you and push forward your project. How do you motivate them?

There is nothing really new on this topic, people studied this area long and thoroughly. David J. Schwartz spoke about it in the The Magic of Thinking Big, illustrated by taking some largely ignored routes, like treating people the human way: “What’s the human approach?” Listening to opinions, never criticize but always praise publicly, using the sandwich approach to feedback …

Recent research on human motivation upon the 21st century job specifics removed once again money (above a decent limit) as the principal motivator and replaced it with some rather surprising ones like: the desire to belong, adding value to society , being recognized for their work .. Maybe not surprising after all, considering Maslow’s pyramid of needs and the tendency to self-actualization.

Then, in your daily business things are not so clear and definitely not easy. Even though a strategy might be simple to define, it’s not easy to implement.

You’re dealing with different people, personalities; different things are driving different people. What’s valued by some, might be totally unimportant for others. This is when you need to know your team, each of them, be flexible and adapt in daily interactions. Listen them up, if that’s the need; satisfy their ego if required. People appreciate it, and will want to pay the favor back. This doesn’t mean it’s a fake attitude and you should try to manipulate people. NO! People have an innate radar for falseness, and will detect it right away. This only means your behavior should be totally genuine, the one we all should tend to, then the fact that they will follow because they want to help YOU is just a side-effect, and not as a transaction of some kind.

There’s a risk though when some might misinterpret that you’re giving them too much rope and abuse that trust, or not even giving he basic output that’s  required from them in doing their job. These may confuse kindness and your human approach with some kind of weakness, lack of firmness in imposing the direction and demanding results. But again, be flexible in interactions with different people, correct the misunderstandings as necessary and guide them back to the right stance, make it clear you still expect the highest performance one is capable of, even if it doesn’t come in the form of an indisputable and firm order. So you should treat different people differently.

How about not forgetting to talk to people personally, have a walk to see each if the team is physically distributed in the building, or a trip if in different locations? Let them feel you’re real, and you’re there, and you care. Let them feel you’re backing them. You’re all just one team working together for the common best outcome. You’re putting in the effort as well. Let them see it.

One following you because of your person will do a lot more than motivating with any material incentive. They’ll find ways to solve things otherwise “nor possible“, or “not my job / responsibility“. Because they care as well, because they want to.

Let people understand why a decision is taken the way it is, ask for their opinion even if the final decision is different. People will support you in a more convinced manner if they understand, without the need to be compelled, or grudgingly because “this is your job, this is what you are paid for“. If they are able to find the purpose in their work, they will readily wish to do whatever it takes.

In the same time, this is where you can get initiative and constructive suggestions given freely and with best intentions, sometimes without even asking for. You need to keep your ears open to what can help. So don’t close up!

Admit you mistakes, be genuine – that’s what people appreciate.

How to motivate yourself

Well, this is a much more difficult question, and I think that depends on you and what you do. If you are in a lucky situation, that sweet-spot kind of case when you enjoy what you do, it’s your passion, like I am, then it gets simpler. You just have to deal with occasional stumbles, fatigue, but can get easily out of it by just recalling why you are doing it, that it’s a passion and remembering all those successes you had before.

If your work is not your passion and you want to make performance, then you should change your work. Or make it your passion!

There are very few lucky enough to choose to work in the field of their passion, but many more can make a passion out of their work. That could open up the path towards performance and success, if that’s what you desire in that particular field.

It’s not so easy to praise yourself, but recollecting past successes in difficult previous situations will certainly help boost your self-confidence and tonus. A success-log comes very handy here. And encouraging yourself is certainly possible.

Maybe I should stop here, before this topic gets too boring. But, I’m curious: what are your thoughts? How do you motivate your team?

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