ARTICLE 9: “I Motivate My People With Activities That I Would Enjoy So I’d Assume They Would Enjoy Them Too”

I believe that one person cannot motivate another. As a senior executive, your job though is to motivate people – isn’t it? The thing is, to motivate others, you need to create an environment in which people feel motivated. That means you need to know what motivates them intrinsically as well as extrinsically.

Motivation is the food which provides the team
with the energy to keep going.

People need motivation as it spurs them into action, to keep going when things get tough. It also encourages us to do a good job, to repeat what might be a boring task. Research shows that it also reduces fear of failure. It also gives us a sense of job security and belonging. It’s another one of those primitive responses we have as human beings. It follows therefore that, without the right type of motivation, performance will decline.

Using an inappropriate motivator is as bad as not providing motivation at all. It’s important to know what different motivators people in your team seek. Get that nailed and you’ll have a significant advantage and be one step closer to a high-performing team. Take the time to ask members of your team what would and wouldn’t motivate them.

One of the biggest failings when it comes to providing extrinsic – or material motivation – is the ‘fun’ activity. You want to get the team to work well together and be more productive.

Let me give you an example of why enforced fun is rarely the method to get the team to work together.

How about the trip to Ten Pin Bowling? We’ve all done it – or have we? The problem is, of course, that a bit like the team raft building activity, it becomes competitive. Then there is the fact that some people would prefer not to have an after-work social event with their colleagues. It is not because they are anti-social, they would just prefer not to spend time with colleagues whom they haven’t really understood at work. So why would making them play a competitive game make them more likely to understand and work well together?

One of the challenges is that because a fun, motivating activity is something you enjoy, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it will be enjoyed by others. In fact, if you consider different behaviours that people possess, they will be motivated by many different things – those perhaps which would not motivate you.

And what of intrinsic motivation? That which is from within.

As a senior executive, what do you have most control over when it comes to motivation? It is the intrinsic. That doesn’t require a budget for a start. So, if there is limited money to spend, you can still create an environment in which motivation occurs. In fact, I would suggest it is critical to be able to provide more intrinsic than extrinsic motivation. More importantly, the intrinsic approach requires you to understand your people. As individuals. That means you must first learn about their behaviours, communication preferences, what they like and dislike. Ultimately, what will intrinsically motivate them?

Examples of good intrinsic motivation may be one of the following:

  • Receiving (appropriate) praise and appreciation for work that is done. (This may be private or public depending on the individual’s preference)
  • Having an opportunity for advancement
  • Receiving regular feedback about the job and the business – feeling included
  • Having learning & development opportunities

Creating a high-performing team isn’t easy. If it were, every team would be high-performing. When motivation and recognition are done correctly, that makes a significant difference.