The confusion that exists in the workplace regarding the ‘motivation of others’

‘How to motivate others’ is the most popular development topic requested by managers and leaders in any organisation anywhere in the world.

It’s not surprising. There is a direct link between the motivation level of individuals and their day-to-day personal performance.

A highly motivated workforce will improve productivity, efficiency and deliver positive results. A de-motivated workforce, however, will contribute towards poor customer service, a lack of innovation and a lack of team spirit between colleagues and others.

Fluctuations in morale will result in inconsistent performance.

The psychology of motivation is complex – what motivates one individual will not necessarily motivate another. Every individual has differing personal needs and expectations. For managers this forms part of the challenge facing them in the workplace each and every day.

Understanding motivation will help

As a manager, if you can understand motivation you are better placed to predict behaviour and, as a result of this, everyone connected to the organisation will benefit. Recognising this is critical to improving your performance in this important business discipline.

The word motivation comes from the Latin word  ‘moveo moti motum’, meaning to move, arouse, affect or influence. Motivation can be seen as the ability to ‘want to do something’. However, the desire to ‘want’ comes from within us, the individual.

In the context of business, motivation is therefore an internal driving force which elicits pleasure from work. Feeling good and performing efficiently are closely related. The strength of the driving force though is also dependent on the amount of effort we are prepared to put in.

The role of the manager in the ‘motivation of others’ 

Many managers feel that the responsibility for the motivation of their team is their responsibility. This is only partly true. The definition highlighted above demonstrates that the ‘internal driving force’ definition means that the greatest responsibility for the motivation of an individual lies with the individual, not the manager.

Consider this example – although extreme – for a moment. You are a passenger on a stricken cruise ship and your safety depends on taking one of two options – swimming to the shore or jumping on a lifeboat. The decision or action taken by you will decide your fate.

What decision do you think you would you make? Self-motivation will play an important part in what it will be. Cruise personnel may offer you survival options, possibly encourage you to do one thing or the other, but the final decision will be yours and will be dependant on your ‘internal driving force’ at the time.

Your personal motivation level and your desired outcome are inextricably linked.  Unless of course you trust your destiny to luck and that isn’t a wise idea.

The same principle applies in the workplace.

Each day workforce performance is dependant on the personal motivation level brought to the organisation by every employee. A good example of this is when a colleague is ‘feeling under the weather’ –at work. Their condition affects their internal drive and subsequently their performance on the day.

Creating a climate of performance in the workplace

The role of the manager – linked to the topic of motivation – is to support the driving force of their employees by ‘creating a climate of performance’. Their primary objective is to put in place the personal and operational conditions which will enable individuals working in the organisation to want to perform in the workplace.

This is where the working environment, terms and conditions, goals and objectives, reward and recognition, employee events and training and development contribute towards people motivation levels. Each element contributes towards the creation of the performance climate. Many other elements of management activity contribute to this.

In a growing organisation, the focus of the manager is to remember the definition of motivation and come up with innovative and relevant ways of creating a culture and ‘mode of operation’ conducive to maximising the potential and productivity of every employee in the business.

Simple rules linked to motivation also help each manager achieve this.

  1. People go to work for many different reasons – an understanding of this is vital to your management success
  2. The existence of motivation does not automatically mean it will last indefinitely. You will always have to work at it
  3. If employees are able to win, they will be motivated by competition
  4. Everyone is capable of being self-motivated
  5. You have to be self-motivated as a manager in order to create a climate which will contribute towards the motivation of others.

Best wishes on your business growth journey, wherever it may take you.

John Stein – Founder of the winning (formula)®


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This entry was posted on Friday, June 21st, 2013 at 8:40 pm and is filed under Management Development Tips, The Growth Manager. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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