Motivating people is a common problem for business leaders. The reality: Before you deal with problem employees, it’s important to realize the limitations of motivating others.
Here are the two most common “myths” about motivation:
1. ‘Leaders motivate people’
Not the case. Motivation, drive, the “inner fire” – that comes from within the individual.
Of course, an inspired rah-rah speech at the right time can help. But external motivation has its limits. Over time, you can’t be the one pushing people to succeed.
People have to motivate themselves to work hard and solve problems every day on the job.
Often it’s a grind to do that every single day. God knows there’s a whole host of marital, health and other problems that make this a greater challenge during tough times.
What you as a leader can do:
Help create a positive environment where staffers feel appreciated and empowered.
Some key tactics that work in any environment:
- give verbal and written praise for a job well done
- be willing to let staffers solve problems on their own and lead projects, and
- pitch in on unpopular jobs when you can.
This last point is one many managers don’t understand (or don’t care about). Employees appreciate managers who’ll roll up their sleeves and help out with the grunt work when things are piling up.
Reason: You send the message that daily tasks are important, honorable and not beneath you.
2. “Money is always the No. 1 motivator”
Study after study shows that a person’s salary or weekly pay rate is not a day-to-day motivator.
That’s because most folks rate their pay as “about right.” They might think their profession as a whole is underpaid, but they’re less likely to think their employer is underpaying them based on their profession and skills.
One caveat: Pay increases and bonuses do affect a person’s motivation.
They make an impact at performance review time. And dissatisfaction over not getting a bonus can make someone stew for quite a while.
But again, money is not a primary day-to-day motivator.