Motivating Unmotivated People
By John Strelecky- Author of The Why Are You Here Café
If you walk around a Walt Disney World resort or theme park, you are likely to witness something that in most other settings would seem bizarre. Not presence of a large animated character, although you may witness that also. Rather, at any given moment, a person in dress clothes will be walking from one destination to another and will stop, pick up a piece of paper, a cup, or other piece of trash someone dropped, and throw it in a trash can. Executives do it, front line managers do it, hourly employees do it, everybody does it. There is no special monetary compensation for this behavior. No point system exists where $5 bonuses are given out for every fifteen pieces of trash that someone picks up. There is also no special monitoring system in place which watches for people who don't do it and then issues penalty points or demerits. Yet, people are motivated to do it anyway. Now, picking up trash may not be your top concern, but are there other things in your department, division, or company that you would like your employees to do? Are you looking for ways to motivate your people? The answer is not pixie dust or magic. The key is being very good at employing five essential motivation steps. To some leaders these steps can seem intimidating. First time managers in particular, who were promoted because of their individual skills are often uncomfortable with these ideas. Many times they feel people should just do what needs to be done "Because that is what they get paid for." Or they believe only way to motivate people is to give them more money. Successful motivators don't think that way. They know that by following five steps, people can be motivated far beyond what they get paid for, and far more effectively than when money is only incentive.
Step #1 Clearly Articulate What Needs to be Accomplished and Why Often problem with getting people to accomplish things is not that they are unmotivated, it is that they are uninformed. Leaders discuss goals with their peers and superiors on a regular basis and are therefore intimately familiar with them. Because of this familiarity, they mistakenly assume all of their employees also know them. Usually this is not case. Take time to explain to all of your employees exactly what needs to be accomplished and reasons why. Don't forget "Why?" Knowing that enables people to make educated choices in their day to day decisions. For example, output from a team at a market research company whose goal is to launch three new products, will vary greatly depending on if they know that "Why?" is because company is losing market share to competitors with products that can be downloaded from Internet. Goals should always include specific numeric objectives and timelines. A goal of "Improve Customer Service" is nebulous and people won't know how they are doing in their efforts to achieve it. However, "Decrease customer wait times to 10 seconds by June 1st" is something people can visualize and work toward.
Step #2 Involve People in Finding Solutions People are more motivated to succeed at something if they personally choose to attempt it. Therefore, managers should involve their people in choosing goals group needs to accomplish. If this is not possible, then involving people in creation of how to achieve goals is next best thing. Their involvement will generate buy in and also opens up opportunity for an optimal solution. Successful coaches use this technique on a regular basis. While it is true they watch hours and hours of game films looking for weaknesses in their own team as well as their competitors, they also involve their players in finding best way to win. They do it because no matter how much film they watch, or how close they are to game, they aren't in game. The perspectives of players or employees who are in midst of action can be drastically different from a coach or a manager who is near action. If those perspectives aren't incorporated into solution, two things will happen. First, those in midst of action will feel that no-one is listening to them, and they will become unmotivated. Second, decisions will be made without incorporating all relevant data. Both of these will negatively impact progress toward goals.