3 Insights on Motivating by Not Focusing on Motivation

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Today, I’m pointing you to an excellent article by Scott and Ken Blanchard in Fast Company. There are several important points in the article, a few of which I highlight here.

1. The greatest motivator is freedom to do the job

You hired smart, capable people. Why not let them do the job you hired them to do? Yes, they need (and want) guidance and direction, but they don’t need (or want) micromanagement. Give them control.

You can’t control motivation. While traditional carrot-and-stick levers can influence behavior in the short term, they do not create the intentions to apply discretionary effort and work collaboratively that are required in today’s more sophisticated work environments. …

We are finding that giving people a chance to succeed in their job and setting them free to a certain degree is the key to motivation, as opposed to trying to direct and control people’s energy. It’s really about letting go and connecting people to their work–and each other–rather than channeling, organizing, orchestrating, and focusing behavior.”

2. Leadership must be on board for culture change

Unless your CEO very visibly sets the examples – and lives that example out every day in his or her own actions – then culture change at any level will not happen.

Without a shift in thinking at the top of an organization, it is almost impossible to change an organization’s culture. A study conducted years ago shed some light on the role of senior leaders in changing organizational culture and behavior. The study concluded that the CEO’s disposition and personality had everything to do with the company’s service orientation and collaborative mindset.”

3. Employees need to know where they fit in the big picture

Help people connect to each other and their work by encouraging everyone in the organization to notice appreciate and formally recognize the good work others are doing when it is in line with strategic objectives and conducted in line with desired behaviors (the what as well as the how).

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Today we realize that control doesn’t work. Find a way to connect your people with the big picture. Create an environment free of fear and anxiety. Leaders don’t need a new lever–they need a new approach to bringing out the best in people. Give a little bit. You’ll be surprised at what can be accomplished when people are free of fear and find their motivation within, instead of being controlled by external carrots and sticks.”

Give them the insight they need into where they fit by letting everyone paint the picture.

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is senior vice president of client strategy and consulting at Workhuman, where he leads the company’s consulting and analytics divisions. His writing is regularly featured across major HR publications, including HR Magazine, Human Resource Executive, HR Zone, and Workspan.