How to Motivate Employees (and Yourself) photo

How to Motivate Employees (and Yourself)

Motivation — the willingness to get the job done bystarting rather than procrastinating, persisting in the face of distractions,and investing enough mental effort to succeed.

There are four motivation traps,they are:

1) I don’t care about whatwe are trying to achieve 2) lack of self-belief, 3) volatile emotions, and 4) blamingsomething or someone else.

Here are the ways to release an employee (or yourself) from itsclutches.

Trap 1, I don’t care about what we are trying to achieve.

Find out what the employee cares about and connect it to thetask. Too often, managers think about what motivates themselves andassume the same is true of their employees.

Sometimes it may be necessary to ask an employee to,essentially, hold their nose while carrying out an undesirable task — makingclear to them the future benefit its completion will yield or the problems itwill prevent.

When an employee doesn’t value a task at the outset and thevalues mismatch may not be apparent, a manager’s best bet is to try to appealto multiple values. One or more of them may resonate with the employee.

Trap 2, Lack of Self-Belief.

Build the employee’s sense of confidence and competence. Thiscan be done in several ways. One is to point out times in the past when they’vesurmounted similar challenges. Perhaps share examples of others just like themwho overcame the same challenges in a way the employee can do, too.

Trap3, Volatile Emotions.

Begin in a setting where you cannot be overheard. Tell them youwant to understand why they are upset and engage in active listening.Do not agree or disagree. Be nonjudgmental by asking what the employee believesis causing them to be upset. Then, briefly summarize what they said back tothem and ask if you have understood. If they say “no,” apologize and tell themyou are listening carefully and to “please try again.” When people feelthey have been understood, their negative emotions soften a bit. It may beuseful to tell them that you want to consider what they told you and schedule atime the next day to discuss. This often helps the person get more control overtheir emotions.

Trap 4, Blaming Something or Someone Else

Help the employee think clearly about the cause of theirstruggles with a task. Helping the employee identify exactly why thetask seems insurmountable can help them move past such avoidance. If theyidentify a cause that’s out of their control (blaming other people, forexample, or a flaw in themselves that can’t be fixed), suggest other causesthat are under their control, such as the need to adopt a new strategy or toapply a greater level of planning.

With each of these four motivation traps, the trick is to thinkmore comprehensively about what stops employees from initiating, persisting,and putting in mental effort and then coach, coach, coach.

Adapted HBR March 2019 Clark& Saxberg