“Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.” - Stephen R. Covey
In their 1993 book, Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It, James Kouzes and Barry Posner identified the top characteristics that people admire in their leaders; 58% of those surveyed said an inspiring leader is what they admire most. As the manager, coach and team leader, the success of your team can be affected by how motivated the team is when performing their tasks. To improve the team’s level of success, motivating the team becomes a necessary element of successful management.
Many statements have been made about individual and team motivation. Many of these comments and opinions have developed into myths and falsehoods. Research shows that there are distinct elements of motivation that are true, while others are false. See how you do. Which of the following statements would you say is a truth and which is a false myth?
- Fear is the best motivator?
- Money is the best motivator?
- Everyone’s motivation is different?
- I can motivate other people?
- Personal motivations can change?
While there is not one “silver bullet” for creating highly motivated teams and individuals, there are a few core elements that can lay the foundation for developing highly effective and productive teams. These truths can assist you in coaching your team to greater success. Three truths of motivation include:
Everyone’s motivation is different
Just as people are different, so is their motivation. While motivational theory suggests that we all have some basic motivations at our core, motivation is still very personal. Everyone’s motivation is different. While money is an excellent motivator for some, in many scientific surveys money is rarely the top motivator. Fear will motivate very effectively, but the motivation is short lived. Also, it will not create respect between managers and team members.
- In weekly meetings, understand the individual’s short term and long term ambitions
- Offer choices for SPIF’s and other types of rewards to address differences
- When motivational rewards will be the same, focus on a core motivator that we all share, like recognition
Individuals must be self-motivated to achieve perpetual success
People actually need to motivate themselves. As the old English idiom states, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.” While managers and coaches can influence other people’s motivational levels, ultimately, a person needs to motivate themselves to reach their peak performance.
- Utilize effective coaching sessions to create a positive and supporting environment.
- Supporting your team by providing the necessary tools and resources they need to be successful can create a motivating atmosphere
- Celebrate successes with individuals and the team
- Public praise and recognition in front of peers
- Provide learning opportunities for skill enhancement
Motivation can change for each individual over time
While a certain motivation may apply to you on one day, the motivation may be completely different the next. Do not assume that if someone’s motivation is money today that it will still be money as a motivator tomorrow.
- Align personal goals with the company goals
- Performance appraisals should be checkpoints for determining motivational changes
- Maintain and review development plans with individuals
- Socialize with your team to consistently monitor and understand their personal drivers
The motivation of your team will be increased when you communicate effectively to the team. There must also be a defined path for achieving the vision. When the team members buy into the vision and the steps for achieving it, their energies will be focused on moving the team in that direction. The team must also understand that this is not a one time event, but a way of life. As Zig Ziglar says, “People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing. That's why we recommend it daily!”
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