Employee motivation and employee productivity can be tricky. Have you ever managed people you’d describe as capable and talented, but they just “go through the motions” of showing up and doing the bare minimum? You might ask yourself, “Where is their motivation?”
What may be happening in the above scenario is that these talented, capable people are motivated to show up at work and do as little as possible without getting fired!
The definition of motivation is – An inner drive that compels behavior. Therefore, to say someone “just isn’t motivated”, just isn’t possible. Employee motivation begins with understanding that within every human being, there’s an inner drive that compels behavior. In other words, everyone has motivation. Criminals are motivated as much as you and I…only in a different direction to achieve different outcomes. Each of us behaves as we do, because of an inner drive called “motivation.”
One question that might arise from the above definition is, “If motivation comes from within, does that mean employee motivation and productivity isn’t possible with some people?” That’s a great question. Let’s take a closer look at employee motivation and productivity and how we can get more out of people.
The first step is in understanding that each of us has “wants” in key life areas such as financial, health, relationships, business/career, spiritual and recreational. Our vision in those areas, and our journey toward fulfilling them, is what determines our motivation and productivity. When there’s a “gap” between where we are and where we want to be, inner drive “kicks in” to somehow close the gap.
Given the above, every interaction you have with people, motivates or de-motivates them. Every interaction “raises a mirror”, where they see themselves in relation to where they want to be. Your words and actions have immediate meaning for people: their relationship with you either moves them toward or away from their desired destination. If people experience you as a barrier to having more of what they want, they may “hold back” their productivity. For them, more effort isn’t worthwhile enough; therefore, it may appear they have no motivation.
Now we know better. They’re motivated…just in a different direction than you. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to affect someone’s motivation and productivity.
A friend of mine is the number one salesperson for a company. He once told me he had zero motivation to win a sales contest which included a fully paid trip to Cancun for 10 days with his wife. Why?
His children weren’t included on the trip. If he and his wife were leaving on vacation, he wanted his kids with them. Since that wasn’t the case, he got very creative with order schedules, so he could place second in the contest without losing commissions in the long term. Granted, the company’s quarterly bottom line would be lower, but this way my friend could get what he wanted – a family vacation on his terms.
Like my friend, all of us have motivation toward what we want and away from what we don’t want.
If my friend’s manager had asked, “What would provide you the most motivation to win this contest?”…he would have heard my friend say, “Just give me four days in Disney World with my wife and kids, then get out of my way and watch me win this thing.” One simple question would have made all the difference in my friend’s motivation to win, but his manager didn’t ask it.
When you show interest in what people want and help them get more of that, you ignite employee motivation and productivity in the direction you desire.
Do you struggle with business productivity and employee motivation? Are you desperately trying to find a way to increase productivity and motivate some employees? Are you about to throw in the towel because you think motivation isn’t possible with some people? If so, consider that they may not be getting enough of what they want, and that’s why they appear to have little motivation.
How do you find out what employees want? You must ask them. If their productivity and motivation is low because important things aren’t being fulfilled, you may be able to increase productivity and turn things around by finding a way to make their job a vehicle for getting more of what they want.