Motivation (or Why Can’t Everyone Just Do Their Job?)

Remember when it was New Years Day? I’ll bet you had at least three new goals for your work life. Are you feeling as enthusiastic about those goals as you were a few months ago? Realistically, there are some things that are obstacles to reaching your goals, which are out of your control. Often times, reaching those goals necessitates working with and through others to get things done. What do you to keep them motivated through the projects?

While there are some exceptions, most people want to give their best and be their best at work. After all, work, at its best, is the play of adults. It should be fun, inspiring, rewarding and challenging. Too often, for the majority of employees, it’s not. Most organizations get in the way of the simple desire to do well and make it very complicated for people to give their best at work. Obstacles of all kinds make work slow, boring, unnecessarily difficult, fragmented, repetitious and tedious. How then do you identify, judge and remove the obstacles to motivating people at work? Who needs motivation? Why? What are the managers’ responsibilities?

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Diverse Business People on a Meeting

So why don’t employees get the job done? Usually there are three reasons. Regardless of the reasons people may give, the answer may be one of these three:

  1. They don’t know how. (Do they need training?)
  2. Something or someone keeps them from it, (Are there obstacles in your area?) or;
  3. They don’t want to… (Do you know why not?)

Who Needs Motivation?

Determining what motivates a person may be your biggest challenge as a manager. Some people are motivated by their own accomplishments. You know the type. Known as achievers, they set goals and work until they achieve those goals. If everyone were like this, then motivational speakers wouldn’t be making thousands of dollars for an afternoon of speaking and I wouldn’t be writing this article.

Leaders and Slackers

Some people are motivated by the attainment of power and are fairly easy to motivate. Visions of increased responsibility and authority are often enough to compel these types to get the job done. These are the leaders. However, the power seekers, self-motivated, and achievers compose less than 20 % of the population. Another 20% of these are marginal employees who do not set goals that are high enough to ever really achieve anything.

The other 60% rely on less tangible means of motivation. Unfortunately, the bulk of our nation’s employees rely on management to motivate them. What is the usual management response to employee motivation? Generally, management spends 80% of their time trying to get the lowest 20% to produce like the top 20% rather than focusing on the majority in the middle.

Five Steps to Success

A journey toward an empowered, productive and happy workplace begins with the first step.

1
Learn To Lead
That means becoming an efficient and effective time and work organizer so that you don’t stand in the way of your own organization’s productivity. That kind of organized approach creates time and space for you to be with your people when you need to be and to give yourself room to grow. It’s difficult to move up the ladder or try for new goals when your daily work is in disarray.

The first skill is to show that you can lead. Do this two ways” by being efficient and by teaching employees to think for themselves. A manager who is disorganized and inefficient lowers that standard of excellence and creates a state of mediocrity.

2
Examine Expectations
Two factors managers often overlook are that people like to see the end result of their efforts and that they enjoy work when it is interesting. Amazingly, these two aspects are often undervalued.

Examine the expectations you have for your employees. Do you expect them to put out a high level of productivity if they don’t feel involved in the end result? Are they bored doing the same task over and over and over? Do you accept that boredom as a primary ingredient of their job? Do you feel that allowing them to see the final outcome is unimportant?

When workers don’t see the end result of their activities, it is hard for them to get excited about what they do. It is hard for them to feel any ownership in their work. In fact, the smaller the role a worker has on a given project without positive feedback, the less that person feels like improving his or her output.

When you involve workers and explain their responsibility as it relates to the end product or service, then they know what to expect. Knowing what to expect gives most people a desire to contribute. Not knowing makes too many of them non-caring and ineffective – feelings that create low productivity.

3
Act Like You Care
Employees respect excellence. They want their leaders to be efficient and top-of-the-line in everything they do.

What does efficient mean? It means more than just being neat. It means:

  • being competent
  • skillful
  • capable
  • productive

It also means not being:

  • ignorant of the job needs
  • unskilled in getting results
  • unable to handle new situations
  • lazy, inconsistent and inattentive

Efficiency not only saves time, it makes time to satisfy the other levels of employee satisfaction.

4
Respect Employees As Professionals
Let’s face it, a manager can’t think for everyone. The basis of survival is to teach others to think for themselves. Those who think for themselves do not suffer from analysis paralysis, boredom or mental malnutrition. Train employees to make decisions that work for them, for you, for the customer and for the organizations.

The basis of getting workers to think for themselves is to encourage them to ask questions, to listen and then offer guidance. Over time, they will learn to ask questions in order to discover answers that will serve the best interests of everyone involved.

Here are some questions to help an employee check for understanding:

  • What has to happen for this to work?
  • And then what? By when?
  • What would happen if we didn’t do this?
  • Is that the result we want?
  • If not, what is the result we want?
  • What do we have to do to get it?
  • How does this help reach our goal? Your goal?
5
Never Stifle Personal Growth
I hope you’ll be motivated by what you read here-motivated to fill the needs of others in a way that works for all, motivated to create an atmosphere of fun, excitement and even adventure, and most of all, motivated to enjoy working. That’s what motivating yourself and others at work is all about.
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