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At the coaching session we discussed how the coachee was progressing since we last met. The conversation got around to a problem she still faced. ” It’s getting to be very difficulty to motivate this chap in my team” she said. ” I am trying to motivate him but it doesn’t seem to work”. I asked her to reflect on all that she had done. At the end of the session, she suddenly remarked ” You know something. I feel there is just so much I can do. At the end of the day, he has to motivate himself”. This was an important realization. We can’t motivate others but we can create an environment and work conditions in which they feel motivated.

Ideally, motivation has to come from within. Here are 7 Factors in Motivating Others:

  1. What’s In It For Me: At the top of the list. No one does anything for your reasons. They do it for thiers. What’s in It For Me is the primary theme. How do they personally benefit from the action? Motivation tends to be stronger when there is a greater linkage between the deed and the reward. Like, completing a difficult certification and getting rewarded with higher pay, better job content etc.
  2. Nothing Succeeds Like Success: Doing something well and getting rewarded is itself a motivator. Success is defined differently by different people but everyone relishes what it means to them. Being a pioneer and watching others follow can be a heady motivator,
  3. Importance: You can’t think of a human being without considering his/her ego. We love to feel important. To feel wanted in the team by the role we play.It feels great to have your point of view asked for and your suggestions taken before a decision is made. Giving importance to people is a strong motivator too.
  4. Enjoyment: The sheer thrill of an activity can get the person to want to do more. Paragliding, scuba diving, leading a project team on a complex assignment- take your pick. It can give enjoyment and motivate you to do more of the same for this reason alone.
  5. Clarity: People feel good and give off their best when there is a good degree of clarity. On what they are supposed to do, what they are not supposed to do, how their performance will be measured and so on. While the lack of clarity often leads to expensive re-work and sloppy results, more clarity leads to higher motivation.
  6. Positivity: Being encouraged by others. Knowing we have their support and can count on them is often a motivator. This can come from within too as in our having positive thoughts despite all the tough challenges ahead of us. We don’t allow negativity and pessimism to overtake us. We remain positive about the outcome-and remain motivated.
  7. Fear: it’s sad but true -all too often. Nothing works like fear does. Everyone is after you to learn a new skill or accept a new responsibility and we hum and haw and push it off. One morning the Big Boss tells us not to come back to work tomorrow if we don’t begin on the new task and it works like magic.

In reality we use a combination of these factors to get the best out of our teams. They will have their individual preferences but in all probability what drives them can be found in this list. Try it and see for yourself.

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This is Post No: 349 of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success.