Make Some Motivation

All too often I hear people say “I’m just not motivated.” If this sounds like you, you should focus on finding that motivation rather than waiting for someone to give it to you. If that sounds like your employees, you need to help them spark their internal motivation rather than trying to motivate them yourself.

The most effective motivation comes from within. We often think that compensation and other rewards will make people work harder and better, but there are limits to what those things can do. If you give someone a trophy every day just for showing up, it loses its effectiveness pretty quickly. If you double an employee’s pay, they may be twice as happy as they were, but that doesn’t mean they will work twice as hard. External motivation methods can have an effect, but the real impact comes from inside.

I could share lots of theories and academic work and books by Daniel Pink, but let me instead share a personal experience. This weekend I ran the Singapore Army Half Marathon. I’m not a competitive runner by any means, just someone who runs for fun. There’s not going to be any prize money nor any trophies for me, just personal satisfaction, and yet I pushed myself to the point that I ran a new Personal Best for the half-marathon distance. Why did I push so hard in what was essentially a training run for a full marathon that I’m running in October? Because, for the previous month, I had been on social media “challenging” Singapore’s national champion marathoner (all a joke, of course, and he played along). Moments before the start, what the emcee was introducing the elite runners, he also shared the story of our “rivalry.” I had already been thinking that, having made such a big deal out of this online, I really should try to do well. Once that story was shared with the thousands of runners at the Starting Line, I wanted a good race even more. The motivation came not from external rewards or benefits, but from my own sense of pride in my performance, and my own need to run as strongly as I could (bolstered by a desire not to look really bad in front of my friends, of course).

So, what motivates you? What motivates your employees? If people want to do well, how can you give them the push to see what’s possible, and help them aim for it? Be honest with yourself about what matters to you, and talk to your employees so you know what matters to them, so everyone can push themselves toward success.