Motivation is a popular subject. My Google search yielded 33.1 million results. That’s not why I’m writing about the topic for this week’s post.
Anyone who manages and leads people knows there are lots of theories about how to get those around you to respond. Why people take action at work is often equated with external incentives like bonuses, fun environments, or flexible work/life policies. If only it was that simple.
If you followed me around at work you would notice that my office is small, the environment where I share space is anything but lively, and I’m self-employed so any bonuses must be earned by my own hard work. Yet, I show up highly motivated every day. What’s my secret?
Many years ago, I was introduced to my workplace behaviors through a product called Everything DiSC®. This personality assessment revealed that my motivations at work aren’t fueled by outside influences. While having a fair salary and good working conditions does matter, I’m motivated primarily by internal needs and whether my work environment encourages these preferences to emerge and grow.
For example, I need a certain level of independence, appreciate working on challenging projects, need time to process information before making decisions, and prefer to set my own quality standards. When these things are present, I enjoy coming to work. If they are missing, I’m likely to be demotivated.
If you manage people without regard for these internal motivating factors, your team members will soon resent your leadership. Too often it is easier to act as though motivation can be manufactured through rewards or coerced though discipline. This just doesn’t work.
Imagine what might happen if leaders took time to get to know their employees and how they are internally motivated? My first boss, did that for me and reaped the rewards through my hard work, loyalty, and performance. He didn’t have an MBA, but understood the intrinsic needs of those he managed.
If you want to inspire better employee performance, understand what inspires that employee.
I enjoy helping the leaders that I teach and coach to embrace this concept of motivation. When I’m working with them, I try hard to model what I want them to learn. The results speak for themselves. The best forms of motivation spring from within our hearts and souls. That’s why “loving what I do” actually means something when I say it.
Photo Credit: istockphoto.com