Over the last month or so, we've been talking a lot about motivating employees or yourself – misconceptions about what motivation is all about, major roadblocks to motivation, and questions to ask yourself or your employees to discover which roadblocks might be occuring – and now it's time to bring it in for a landing! Today we're talking about the final two steps to get you off and running to tackle your motivation problems.
Trying Different Approaches
Even if you ask really good questions, employees aren’t going to always tell you exactly what they need. Sometimes they don't want to let on that they're struggling and other times they really don't know what they need. That’s when it becomes time to experiment. Here’s what I mean:
Traditionally, we see managers try one approach to motivate someone and assume that, if it doesn’t get the desired results, that employee is a lost cause. Perhaps you create a contest where the winner gets a gift card prize – but you still get that one person who doesn’t participate. Or maybe you say that anyone who doesn’t get their CRM reports in by 5:00 pm on Friday will have points docked from your bonus tracking system – and there’s still that straggler. In these cases, most managers would say, I give up.
But maybe you just haven’t found the right action – yet.
Excellent managers know that every single employee is unique and that a one-size-fits all approach to motivation doesn't work. We have different sets of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators and individual strengths – so blanket motivation tacts won't always do the trick. If you truly believe that an employee brings value to your organization, it's your job as the manager (perhaps along with the support of a coach) to keep experimenting until you find the trigger that works.
Now, I understand that trying different approaches and doing different things for every employee might seem tedious and inefficient. Try thinking of it as a game! The way to score is to find that approach that gets the employee to take the action you want. Every time you try something new is simply a different play from the playbook. Sometimes you score, sometimes you don’t – but you don’t quit playing.
Push People to Take a Step Forward – Any Step
One of the myths around motivation is that motivation is required to take action. The truth, though, is that it’s actually action that leads to motivation. Action creates momentum and momentum creates clarity, certainty and value. Back in school we all learned the rule of physics: an object in motion stays in motion. In this case…the object is you!
In his book Stick With It: A Scientifically Proven Process for Changing Your Life – For Good, Dr. Sean Young talks about what he calls "stepladders" – tiny actions that can be accomplished in less than a week (or, ideally, less than a day) to keep us on the path toward our goals and dreams. According to Young, “Many studies confirm this principle: to change behavior, focus on the day-today process, rather than the outcome.” When we focus on these daily steps – and talk about what good came of them – people start to develop what psychologists call self–efficacy or “the idea that change is attainable; reflecting on past progress helps people to realize that they were able to complete the last step, and the step before, so they should be able to complete the next step.”
So, what steps can you get your employee(s) to take today or this week that would move them in the right direction? Here’s some examples:
- Call on one prospect each day, either by phone or in person
- Spend 30 minutes on Google Earth finding new farms to call on
- Spend one hour reviewing new product material and write down five questions a customer might ask you about it
- Take 15 minutes each morning to write down your to-do list
- Ask one customer this week what his/her goals are for the next 12 months and listen for opportunities to help them achieve it
- Schedule a ride-along with one of your company’s experts
In all of these activities (and there are many other options out there), the focus is simply on “What can I do today to move myself forward?” Because the attention is on something small, it requires less motivation than if you were focusing on, say, selling X million dollars of product this year. When those daily and weekly steps are taken consistently, though, motivation toward the bigger goals and dreams grow because they seem a whole lot easier to reach.
Tying It All Together
Does motivation exist? Sure. We’ve all felt it at some point or another. But we would argue that motivation doesn’t exist in the framework that we normally think about it – as something that can be gotten or as a requirement for action. Lack of motivation occurs when we face one of the seven motivation blockers. Experiencing motivation is simply a result of digging down into the root cause of the problem and attacking it with the right solution.
Need help or want to talk more about ideas to motivate yourself or your team? Give us a shout.