Motivating People STILL Doesn’t Work
20 copies available!!
Leave a comment on this guest post by Susan Fowler to become eligible to win a copy of Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work…and What Does. (20 copies available.)
Deadline for eligibility is 05/22/2023. Winners outside the continental US will receive an electronic version.
Motivating People STILL Doesn’t Work:
Everything has changed, but one thing remains true. You still can’t motivate people. But you can apply groundbreaking insight into human motivation to address the new realities of hybrid work, retention, and quiet quitting.
Ironically, many techniques for motivating people today erode optimal motivation. Take a disturbing trend: the proliferation of incentivizing everything imaginable with tokens and badges. External rewards have been empirically proven to thwart the three psychological needs required for productivity and thriving: choice, connection, and competence.
A post-COVID global study cited three primary reasons why people left (or wish they could leave) their jobs. Notice how their reasons directly relate to their unmet psychological needs!
- Need for autonomy and flexibility (choice)
- To avoid a toxic culture and seek meaningful work (connection)
- Opportunities for learning and growth (competence)
You can begin mastering motivation by practicing three leadership capacities that help fulfill people’s need for choice, connection, and competence.
- After defining boundaries, explore the options available within the boundaries.
- Ask people how they feel about the choices they’ve made.
- Help people identify the choices they have. Sometimes recognizing they have a choice is all it takes to make the right one.
- Align people’s work with their work-related values every day.
- Engage in valuable conversations. People may be able to regurgitate the organization’s values without ever considering their own work-related values.
- When you shift your focus to what you want for people, you are more likely to get the results you want from them.
- Ask people to identify the skills they have to help them achieve their goals.
- Discuss potential skills they could gain by pursuing their goals.
- Focus on learning goals, not just outcome goals.
These leadership competencies help ensure people’s optimal motivation so they can succeed and flourish simultaneously.
What opportunities do you have every day to promote people’s psychological need for choice, connection, and competence?
Susan Fowler is CEO and founder of Mojo Moments, Inc., a global network delivering cutting-edge, empirically sound leadership development solutions based on breakthrough motivation science. Susan is the bestselling author of six books, including co-authoring Self Leadership and The One Minute Manager with Ken Blanchard and Master Your Motivation. Her bestseller, Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work … And What Does, was translated into 14 languages with an updated second edition available in May 2023.
Choice and values! Would love a copy of the book!
This looks fascinating. The connection to meaning making is so accurate!
I can understand how frustrating it can be to try to motivate people and feel like you’re not making any progress. It’s true that external rewards can sometimes do more harm than good when it comes to promoting productivity and engagement. I believe that the key to motivating people is to focus on fulfilling their psychological needs for choice, connection, and competence. As a leader, it’s important to encourage your team members to make choices within defined boundaries, to align their work with their values, and to focus on learning and growth rather than just outcomes. By doing so, you can create a work environment where everyone feels fulfilled and empowered, and where people are motivated to work towards their goals.
A fourth leadership capacity is taking responsibility for developing and sustaining a leadership team (more likely teams) capable of the three leadership capacities described here. It’s more than a 1-person show (to achieve a motivated workforce of more than 10+ people, or 2+ teams.) I’ve found this is where most organizations flounder (and institutionalize the anti-patterns these three capacities are designed to preclude from taking root.)
Being responsible for people in the workplace (whether physical, virtual, hybrid, co-located, distributed, etc.) can be a life-changing experience. Not everyone is ready for it (so recognizing where you need help is a fifth leadership capacity, I believe and learned, firsthand.) Seeking help is a virtue, not a liability.
I relate to the 2nd reason for staff departures. Often, when I have met with former staff for lunch, they tell me they never had an exist interview. While that does not cause them frustration, the very fact management made decisions that go against our own values , policies, and guidelines set up by our industry. When this occurs, people cannot tolerate the compromise of such things.
So, those who can find another position, often take it and flee. Others, just flat out quit. Then, there are those who remain, hoping and praying things change. We make attempts to bring change, suggest ideas to change, and when given Opportunities, create pathways to change.
Historically, management cannot help itself from making a decision within a department that neuter the department head.
I have recently been assigned a completely new team (15 members) and they are currently learning new functions in the role they have been promoted to. Everyone is in learning mode and feeling very overwhelmed with the aggressive goal of all cross training completed by the end of second quarter. I have been asking them how they want to learn the new functions and been accommodating to each individual. I am working on building the foundation of trust with all team members and would love additional feedback on ways I can better engage my team.
@Brandi_Hanson Rather than 100% cross training individually, I’ve found pairing people (learning new functions) helps accelerate training and has several positive (additional) outcomes including improving trust and collaboration. Changing pairs has proven effective (during a “learning new functions”, or learning anything new), too.
Would love a copy of the book – always a constant struggle to get people engaged in the work!
This is exactly what I needed this morning as I prepare for the 23-24 school year! Would love a copy of the book!
The words motivation and empowerment are often used conterminously as if they are qualities that can be given or bestowed upon one person by another. The truth is that no one can empower you but you, and once you have given yourself that power no one can take it away from you.
I remember telling students they had a choice to be in this class or not, one student said I don’t have a choice! I said you do. They responded with no my Dad would make me leave and move out. I clarified- that is still your choice, so since you are choosing to be here what can we do to help you get the most out of this time? His attitude shifted to engaging! I want the book!!
Currently banging the drum in my own organisation for increasing personal choice and effective use of people’s strengths to enable our organisations development…
This book would inspire me and help evidence my points further!
Would love a copy of the book..thanks for sharing
I have recently been assigned a new team, learning a new role. Everyone is feeling quite overwhelmed with meeting our goal of having all cross training complete by the end of second quarter. I have been asking team members how they want to learn and doing my best to accommodate their needs. I would like any additional feedback to help support our teams transition. Motivation during this time is crucial.
I would appreciate a copy of this book…the summary makes a great deal of sense to me, and as a former leader of people, who is heading back to leadership, I’ve always tried to ask members of my teams questions—-how they handle a challenge before them (trying to get them to think on their own); where they see the need for additional training, what they believe their strengths are—and opportunities for improvements.
As a leader, I listen a lot, then when I ask questions, the Associate frequently identifies their needs on their own…
Related to motivation—-I try to ask questions to get to the root of what the Associate is passionate about, and how that passion can be channeled into their positions in the company (or others, if they’re more qualified to do something different).
I have a great deal to continue to learn, and I hope this book will help me on my journey to become the best person to lead others to success and satisfaction.
This is an interesting and nerve-wracking issue. We have literally been taught and encourage to motivate our teams. And many times it just doesn’t work. I recently had to realign the perspective of one of my staff according his work value to make a dent in getting the activity done. I really didn’t consider it as motivation but as making a connection that allowed him to see the outcomes better. I look forward to reading your book and seeing how else I do motivation better.
Internal motivation is some thing I continue to hope to inspire in my team, both for a strong work ethic for the work they need to accomplish, but as well, their desire to continually grow. Both are necessary motivations!
Such an interesting read and resonated with the whole mastery autonomy and purpose model too! Would certainly be I interested to read more as working on a corporate culture change right now!!
Focusing on what your people want/need is the key element, everything else flows from this.
Automony is often missing in some educational programs and is so important (automony within boundaries). I can’t wait to read the book.
So important that we tap into the internal realities of humanity instead of trying so hard to motivate with external things. Would love a copy of the book!
This book is needed now more than ever as organizations learn new ways to engage & support employees.
“Align people’s work with their work-related values every day.”
Yes! Doing this ONE THING would boost the level of employee motivation by 25 points!
Deepen connection really resonated with me. I can see how linking value to what everyone is doing can create meaning and purpose.
I am fascinated about learning more this and how I can apply it to coaching teachers to change practices.
Employees aren’t often asked their opinion about processes and procedures. Many of them have something to offer because they have a different viewpoint that management may not have considered. When they attempt to share it and it’s ‘shot down,’ it can lead to disengagement and the employee may start to look elsewhere for a place where they may feel valued.
I would be interested in a copy to find out how the concepts of choice, connection and competence in Susan’s book map to Dan Pink’s drivers of autonomy, mastery and purpose.
“When you shift your focus to what you want FOR people, you are more likely to get the results you want from them”, rather than “what you want FROM people…”. It is an entirely different locus of operation. I find a simple, “How can I help you reach your goal?” is an effective approach to moving things along. I’m looking forward to reading more in the book.
After joining a new team that was managed top-down prior to coming on board, one of the greatest challenges I encountered was motivating the team. Only about 30% of the team were encourage by the autonomy provided; the others were happy being assigned work. The organization provided little incentive for people to grow and enhance the work environment. I have been pleased with the small wins and watching a few feel more empowered. The culture at this organization is slowly changing, it will take time to improve. The leadership is going through a shift and I can only hope it becomes more supportive before people move on.
I would love a copy of this book. We are living in times when many people have very little if any personal accountability. We are giving people money cards to show up to their prenatal appointments. How about, you show up to your appointment so you can assure the best possible care for your baby. Personal accountability, I believe is at the center of our choices. Leading people to take ownership, to determine their values and live out their life / work life based on those values is so important. I am excited to read this book.
Choice and less of a focus on incentives are definitely missing pieces in many organizations – especially those developing our next generation of leaders, PK-12 schools.
Sounds like just what I need right now!
This sounds like just what I need right now!
If more leaders knew this and led with the goal to create a motivational environment and practiced these behaviors, the world would be a more productive place!
Daniel Pink wrote ‘Drive’ more than a decade ago. Similarly he shared three keys to supporting intrinsic motivation: autonomy (choice), proficiency (competence) and purpose (connection). There’s no doubt that some leaders are looking for a shortcut to motivate their teams.
I know it is hard in every industry. As an educator I see the daily struggle of so many teachers and students. The external rewards never seem to last very long. A reminder each day of our WHY helps but people are in such disagreement about how our jobs need to be done which is driving away my colleagues on a almost daily basis.
What motivates people?
1. Doing work they find interesting and meaningful
2. Being included–having opportunities to add value and make a difference
3. Being recognized and appreciated for their contributions
There is no stick big enough nor a big enough bag of carrots if the individual does not have that internal desire, that inspiration, that “want to.” Kind of like a gas stove, if there is no pilot light or if the pilot light goes out, no amount of turning knobs or coaxing can make that stove get hot and perform.
With the current retention rates, this information is invaluable.
Really interesting and would love to read more on the topic. I appreciate the insights though on why people leave jobs (as one who is in the midst of a transition himself).
I work with high school and college students and motivation is a very tricky thing for them. We are not paying these students so we have to rely on building self- motivated individuals.
Would love a copy! Thank you!
This brought good insight and a new way to look at motivation.
Great post! Autonomy is huge.
I would love to read this. I’ve been talking a lot about how to “motivate” not only my students but all the team that I manage.
Great advice – whether you are actually leading a group / organization and/or simply leading your life. It can be summed up quoting a four-word sentence from this post: “Engage in valuable conversations.” The other actions encouraged (explore, ask, discuss, consider, identify) all align with individual efforts preceding, during, and after these conversations – efforts self-motivated because of the conversations!
Great concepts and ideas. I am a superintendent in a public school and I love reading these daily leadership posts. They always stimulate my thinking.
Choice- The biggest way that I encourage choice is by avoiding micro-managing. Set expectations and boundaries and then let people do their work. Be there for them to provide guidance and support… but do not micro manage the details.
Connection- This is somewhat easier in my profession because as educators it is fairly easy to see the value of what we do with children. What needs to be done from a leader’s perspective is to remind people WHY we are doing what we are doing. A timely reminder of why we are educators goes a long way.
Competence- In the last several years I’ve taken a new perspective on evaluations. Now I view them as a coaching opportunity. I like to start off these meetings with “What are you doing well? How can I help you build on those skills? What skills compliment areas you already do well in?” This is a breath of fresh air to people and they realize I am there to support what they do well and build on that, rather than playing the game of “Gotchya” in an evaluation meeting. Plus, people have the capacity for more growth in areas of strength.
Great article today. Thanks for posting!
Great article. Simple concepts and easy to incorporate into our routines!
I see that the subject of motivation is still a puzzle to many people in leadership positions. In my field, the magic word during my career was “morale.” I always taught my leadership development classes that morale is a thermometer for leadership effectiveness, not a thermostat that can be turned up or down at will. Meeting those psychological needs for choice, connection, and competence is an essential task for effective leadership, and always will be.
We speak about motivation as a means to an end, however, I believe leaders cannot motivate others. Motivation comes from within. The best leaders inspire others by example. Connecting with the team is a skillset many managers need to develop…this is the true skill that is often not taught….this is where the book makes perfect sense….
Good advice. Thank
I’m currently reading this book and it has SOOO many great points and statements. I love Susan’s psychological-need mindset of explaining why motivating others doesn’t work.
Great post – it’s odd that motivation doesn’t work the way we might think it works. It’s not about externals – it is about allowing people to walk in their talents and abilities with a supportive and fair environment.
Would love to receive a copy of the book! Thanks for the opportunity.
This is truly helpful! I am not in a leadership role however I can use these tips to lead my team. I hope I get to receive a copy of the book.
Engage each member of the team around the “cause”, the “mission” of the business – we are making a difference and you play a role in how we do it.
Good morning to all! What an interesting and well timed topic. I plan to read the book just because it has generated some great responses today. I love reading what others have to say about each days topic. Ms Fowler’s book will be read and used by many. Thanks,
Don’t be afraid to change if an opportunity presents itself, go for it! We never know if we don’t try! People need to understand they can do things outside thevhabitusl box. ” Everyone can be something “.
Would love a copy of the book! Great topic.
Would love a copy of the book. It’s the first book that has really caught my attention and made me want to learn more in a while! Great topic and so relevant.
This is an excellent way to look at motivation. The key is to set boundaries that don’t appear to limit choices, make connections that are authentic and not contrived, and make goals actually seem achievable. I would love to dive a little deeper into this message as I feel that this could be beneficial to me as a leader.
Motivation is such a hard thing. For a long time as a young manager, motivating others was about getting them to get their jobs done timely, completely and correctly. Over the years, I’ve changed my perspective and I try to not only motivate them to be successful, but to also be happy in the process. I’ve shifted my thinking from being results driven to being satisfaction driven, which ultimately has improved results even more. I want them to look forward to coming to work every day and feel good about what they are doing. I’m really interested in this book, as I’m always looking for new ways to improve motivation even more.
What an awesome way to start your day. Motivation is the energy that gets people to move ideas into successful outcomes. What happens when Motivation doesn’t work. I would love a copy of the book to look into what works when Motivation doesn’t.
I would be grateful for a copy of this book.
Post Covid, so many things have changed. How we connect with and inspire our team is just two of them. Thank you for this relevant and vital resource.
Gosh, this post truly resonates with me. I have the awesome task of presenting to new employees of a large school district. Employees attending our orientation sessions represent a cross section of skill sets and perception of working. As our Customer Service presenter, I quickly gave up the slide show, and simply have a chat. Since they are already recruited, I share with them my interest in retention. I share a little of what I have learned in my 42 years with this wonderful organization. Your post hits the nail!! It is about the purpose and joy that you bring with you to the tasks. It is the celebration of the freedom we have to choose! Gosh I love your post!
Our company is a values based company. Sometimes, in the thick of things, it’s hard to remember to always connect with those values. It pays to remember and reinforce.
Self – motivation – we all find it in us for one reason or another – do some good in the world or destroy something.
Irony or planned strategy? “…the proliferation of incentivizing everything imaginable …” kind of like: “…Leave a comment on this guest post by Susan Fowler to become eligible to win a copy of Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work…and What Does.”?
Who said, “Carrots don’t work.” The opportunity to receive a free book has motivated over 60 people to post a comment.
Don’t see choice mentioned a lot in this realm, refreshing to see! Another thing worth mentioning is the importance of control – I work in executive leadership in the professional animal care world, mostly helping people teach animals in zoos to participate in their own health care instead of having to be darted/netted/caught up/etc, and one of the important applications we use in our work comes from an understanding that control is a primary reinforcer for behavior. Like food, water, shelter, and sex, it’s something an animal is born understanding that it is a good thing worth seeking out, it doesn’t need to be learned, and we turn that back on the human work we do with teams to try to give the people we work with as much control (often referred to in work circles as “autonomy”) as possible.
Several years ago I read work that focused on safety, mattering and belonging. I feel Susan’s work closely tails into those concepts but puts new light on motivation and keeping people engaged. The prior work I mentioned stated something to the effect of, “All attempts to manipulate and control people ultimately fail.” Creating an environment people want to be a part of for their own reasons is a fundamental challenge of leadership today. I would be interested and grateful for a copy of this book.
This post makes me excited for this book. We have been dissecting motivation for decades, yet still seem to be no woefully unequipped to solve the issue. The first paragraph made me think of the book “Punished by rewards by Alfie Kohn. A good read on the subject.
“Need for autonomy and flexibility (choice)
To avoid a toxic culture and seek meaningful work (connection)
Opportunities for learning and growth (competence)” And when one is missing, it consumes you! I would love a copy of this book and to read more about this topic.
Since the pandemic, there has not been one aspect of my unit within the organization I work that has not undergone significant change. From management reorganization to remodeling to going from a single shift to a 24 hour operation. This last aspect has required us to hire more new people than we have people who can train. It is a challenge to navigate successfully in this environment but it is an exciting challenge to undertake. We are stretching ourselves more than we ever have but I am so pleased with the results. Our biggest challenge now is getting everyone up and running for the final phase to a full 24/7/365 operation. Here we go!
Coming out of COVID what our team has struggled with the most is avoiding a toxic culture. I am trying to learn as much as I can about this area to try to improve our team’s culture.
From my experience, another strong motivator is working toward a meaningful purpose. When employees feel like the work they do is important and contributes to society they feel a stronger commitment. For many companies is easy to connect the dots. I work at a hospital – we save lives. We build safety equipment. We teach people skills that help them gain higher wages and economic security. However, for some organizations it can be challenging. But if you dig deep enough there is almost always some sort of noble purpose directly connected to the work that people do. And when that is uncovered, you will unleash their motivation.
I agree that motivation is not enough. In my line of work its so many more factors at play than my single motivating statement our personality. I have to learn how to lean in and couple my motivation with acknowledgement of where my consumers are in their journey.
As leaders it is important to empower our staff with choices. I value that Ms. Fowler recognizes this and highlights ways in which to engage staff, especially those who feel powerless, by identifying their areas of control and encouraging them to thrive in those freedoms, employees will be more dedicated and take pride in their importance at work. I love this and look forward to reading this book!
Yes! Providing external rewards has the opposite impact. Providing choice and opportunities for folks to continue to learn will be much more motivational!
Timely message- as I’m leading a new team, I would love to read this book to gain some effective strategies for motivation.
I am a principal at a K-8 school and not only is this advice pertinent to my teaching staff, but I try and help the teachers understand that the students need this too: choice, connection, and competence. Rewards and punishment don’t work for my students that struggle the most–they need choice, a sense of belonging, and to feel good about what they are doing.
I would certainly appreciate a copy of the book. I spend a great deal of time trying to motivate in a production driven environment.
Motivation does not happen without giving your team the competencies and skills to perform there job. This is a process that is never ending.
I would love a copy.
WOW! Could I use the help to motivate a 5 year employee who has no ambition to grow or get daily work done.
The growth is their decision, but the daily work is a performance issue. Sometimes people who are comfortable in their role and aren’t looking to grow slump into underperformers, and their may be no way to motivate them aside managing their performance. Clearly convey expectations and hold them to those. If they don’t fulfill the role, I’d manage them out and look for a fresh face to fill the role. You’ll likely spend less effort training someone new than you do managing a nonperformer!
I think this would book would be really helpful. My team has tried a variety of things to motivate people to be productive. I think it is time to take a step back and revaluate what we are doing.
It sounds like the key is to first define boundaries. Then to talk about the options available within the boundaries and get the person involved. As leaders, we simply can’t make choices for each person, they have to be involved in their path. I often feel many people just want what they want without initiating any discussion and expecting leaders to read their minds. Conversations have to happen.
As a fairly new supervisor I have found that I am very good at motivating my team, I am a cheerleader and apparently, I’m really good at asking questions so they can come to their own conclusions and feel empowered to do so.. Now, if I could just translate those abilities inward and motivate myself!
This reminds me of when working with people that we have to be present with people where they are at and understand their perspective and what makes them who they are trying to motivate anyone. This book would allow me to continue to learn and grow as a person. I would enjoy receiving a copy of this book.
I am sending engagement surveys out soon and will use the info from this article to help ensure we are focused on the most important and impactful areas. The book would be wonderful as well!
Yes! All of this!
In a distanced (virtual) world has been a primary focus of mine. Providing opportunities to connect on camera both 1:1 and in a group with my directs and project teams has improved out bond immensely. Asking a silly question unrelated to work at the start of a meeting (As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?) gives so much insight into people and warms them up, providing connection.
Translating corp goals to departmental to project goals and aligning with client’s goals in collaboration provides connection and a realism to what team members are working on every day. Allow them to see the role they play!
And one of the primary overlooked things I find in training teams on working in a matrixed environment and resourcing people to projects is whether it aligns with their goals/interests. Such a small thing, yet so important to the individual and their satisfaction in their role!
I always try to ask people their view on a program rather than blindly assigning them without their view.
Ask people where their interests lie and where they feel they could contribute value to the organization or support process improvements…allow them to help build and demonstrate their strengths.
Build a competency grid so team members can clearly see the competencies expected not only in their role but in the next, and ensure it’s comprehensive of soft skills and leadership competencies. There are so many facets of fulfilling and developing to a new role!
I also believe that motivation people or employees is a mindset and is dictated by the culture of the agency. The team moves at the speed and direction of its leader. Coach from your feet not your seat and coach to the culture you want to see. Would love a copy please..
exploring one’s ideas and values within the boundaries of the system is a great step in seeing choice
I can’t motivate anyone but myself.
I can only try to influence you to choose the actions that I think you should choose.
Motivation is a tough one, as what motivates me may not motivate you.
we find shared goals, respect and trust each other, and have our hearts in the right place (intention)…
we can have the best shot at “motivating” others.
Again, I can’t put you in motion, without triggering your flight or fight reflexes. However, I can be the above to you and you may take my suggestions and put yourself into motion.
Well done! Thanks for putting it together so concisely.
A good definition of leadership is making people want to do the right thing.
Forcing them, or even incentivizing them, is insufficient. To make people want to do the right thing, you need to clearly communicate the vision you are trying to fulfill, help them realize how they are a vital part of that vision, and make sure their skills are being utilized fully toward the fulfillment of that vision.
Would love a copy of the book.
Change is ever evolving. Having choices, opportunities and setting goals while working a plan can help us grow. I would also love to have a copy of the book.
This is a great topic. It reminds me of the adage; you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.
I think a lot of the literature talks a lot about talking to employees about what motivates them and determining whether they are motivated intrinsically or extrinsically. I have somewhat struggled when an employee replies that they are motivated by more money or promotions. If an employee works for you for 30 years, how do you promote them 30 times? At some point, those promotions look like Dwight Schrute’s Assistant TO the Regional Manager position!
This book seems to be identifying intrinsic motivations and helping employees recognize these in themselves. I would definitely like to learn more about this.
Motivation, I think, is a very subjective thing. Somethings may motivate me and few people like me, may not work for the others. However the power of motivation should never be underestimated. It can turn people into performers. Just do a little homework to know your subject more, analyze what may motivate that person and then try to work around it.
Would appreciate if I can get hold of a copy of the book!
Great insights! It is refreshing to see someone call out the overuse and ineffictiveness of the “tokens and badges” trend. As a sufferer of imposter syndrome and someone who isn’t a collector of “things,” I understand and appreciate the “choice, connection, competence” much more.
I like the part where it talks about helping people see the choices they have. Sometimes I feel as if some associates don’t see what options are staring at them.
Motivation is such an interesting topic.
Dan can report how “free book” articles get more comments than other articles.
The chance to get a free book has “motivated” us to put a comment.
To my earlier post, it is enough “benefit” for us to have us post comments. (and now some of us posting 2. LOL)
There are many readers of this blog that do not post comments for a chance to win a book. We do not know the exact reason, maybe they have the book already, maybe they just never post comments, maybe this topic doesn’t interest them, and a boatload of other possible reasons.
I may frustrate historians. To me, extrinsic rewards are the oldest profession.
I’ll do something to get something that I feel is a good enough trade to deem it worthy for me to do the something.
Intrinsic rewards, a lot different. I’ll could do something because I want to do it. I enjoy it, or on the other side of the coin, no one else will do it, and if I want it done, I have to do it myself (i.e. do my dishes – I don’t do it because I love doing them, it is more of my own responsibility to myself to get them done.)
When it comes to “work goals” how can you really connect to my “intrinsic” motivation? Besides giving me a job where I say “I can’t believe people will pay me to do something that I would do for free!”
Dan may be an example of this as well. He may love helping people and sharing his advice and views in ways that make us think, that if he wasn’t able to monetize it, he may still be doing it. (also worded as “I’d still be doin’ this if I wasn’t doin’ this” by Luke Combs in his song “Doin’ this”)
The next and what I think people believe is the “easiest” part – let’s appeal to their extrinsic values and “give them something (carrot) to do what we want them to do”, or even pull out the “Do this or get fired!” (stick).
Back to the 3rd paragraph – if you can give me a situation where I feel it is a worthy trade of my effort for the (real) benefits I will get from spending that effort, then we have a motivation deal!
For you to get the best bang for your buck in your “motivational” offer to me, is for you not to assume that you know what is meaningful to me and actually find out what that really is (for the time that we are to make the deal, as it probably constantly changes) and propose that to me.
Maybe it’s money (which I am going to trade away for some other product or service at some point in time), maybe it’s that I actually love doing what you want me to do and I’d do it anyway, or maybe it’s the billions of other possibilities that lay in between.
I was going to end it there, but I was thinking about the concept of “money” as a universal item of trade. How can it not be the dream “wish”? Especially after I typed the “trade away for some other product or service at some point in time” part.
Once I realize that, I can trade enough money for a retirement at 55. I can trade it away for experiences with my family (or others), I can trade it for milk and cereal. It can be anything I want it to be. I just have to change how you see it, and you can join me in the oldest profession of extrinsic motivation!
That would have been a great closer, but I should address that I can’t trade money for health or true happiness. But then you can’t deliver those to me either in trade for me wanting to help you with your business goals. 🙂
I have found that there are people who are great employees because they are self motivated. They are the way the are because that is the way they see themselves and they remain true to their vision. I often tell younger people who complain about their workplace that they should be the best employee they can be, not because their employer deserved that, but because that is the kind of person they are.
options and opportunities for growth, along with culture impact my own motivation.
This triad of choice, connection, & competence resonates with me because I’ve just been freed from a situation where I lacked aspects of all three. I was dissatisfied enough to consider leaving my position and now feel as if oxygen is flooding back into my world.
This experience makes me more sensitive to people who report to me. Is my behavior sucking the oxygen out of their experience with the company? Do I allow them choice (or do I micromanage)? Do I allow people the opportunity to connect (or do I consider efficiency more important than conversation)? Do I allow them to work on the hairy edge of incompetence (or do I focus on their mistakes)?
I reflect back to some of my favorite memories of play as a child. We took over a space in the attic and created a club room made from boxes and old bedspreads and someday-we-should-sell-this nicknacks. The creativity and playing together and feeling proud of our ingenuity was enough to drive us to spend hours “working.” But if my mother had told me to do it, I would have reacted as any sullen pre-teen.
I wonder how many times do we de-motivate people and turn them sullen? How many times do we make it feel like work when it could feel like play?
I would love a copy of this book as I am trying to motivate people every day
This is great wisdom that I will apply immediately! I just started a new job as a manager and my staff has been without leadership for a period between my predecessor and myself. The staff doesn’t get along and each of them have lost their focus and career identity. I have been doing my best, using all the leadership, management 101 but it hasn’t changed anything. Now I read this article and need to dig deeper into what Ms Fowler is sharing.
I would love a book to read on Motivating people. That is what I need to do.
I think that sometimes people confuse motivating with incentivizing. Motivation seems to connect with values and passion more than incentives. You can incentivize people for short term gains. Motivation seems to be an inner passion or driver for something other than short term gains.
I look forward to reading this book.
Susan’s points about the need for choice, connection, and competence align very well with Mark Schartz’ prescription in “The Delicate Art of Bureaucracy” for lean, learning, and enabling organizations. Mutual respect seems to be an underlying theme for both authors.
Great subject and would like a deeper dive.
I would love a copy of this book!
As a new manager, I’m struggling to make the switch from “Here’s how you should do it” to “How do you think you should do it?” I value autonomy myself, but I seem to want to tell others what to do.
As a mom, I have a front row seat to the power of intrinsic motivation. Kids learn so much about the things they’re personally interested/invested in, with no nagging at all!
Love the simplicity of the three themes. I especially appreciate the observation regarding the need to translate values into work-related meaning/examples. Otherwise they are just nice words.
This sounds like a very interesting read. The best leaders inspire by example. This is a concept I believe many leaders struggle with everyday and I think alot could be gained from reading this book.
This piqued my interest right off the bat with the reference to external vs. internal motivations. Looking forward to reading the book.
Each person has their own unique code to get them inspired to put forth effort. An excellent leader makes that effort to find that code.
Motivation is unique to every person. As a manager it is always a challenge. Looking forward to reading the book.
Great discussion! Thank you
This is a much needed book for the new workforce.
Light bulb moment for me! As a ‘yellow’ on the Insights wheel my go to mode is motivator. Love a challenge to change my mindset and this lit the fire! Am I crazy saying I can’t wait for Monday to get going?
I’m perpetually fascinated by how simple acknowledgement, recognition, and praise can motivate — AND by how some folks in leadership roles can turn such a basic concept into an exercise in faux sincerity.
I noticed that money is NOT a primary contributing factor. It stands to reason and is supported by the three main points of focus by Fowler. Excellent post today! Thank you.
It’s incredible how brief a conversation needs to be to impact both sides. Becoming a server in a restaurant taught me this.
This is a very interstitial topic as I manage a team of 7 who are always asking to learn more and as a leader I have limited ability to authorize such a thing and my director does not want to add more wolf and therefore money compensation. Need to find a way to keep a great team together and not have them jump ship
While I wasn’t originally interested in being a manager of people, after being at the receiving end of bad management, lack-of management, and sadly: evil management, I’m inspired by authors like Susan Fowler, Karen Martin, Chip Bell, Marshall Goldsmith, etc. who are making in-roads to quality leadership. I greatly appreciate Dan Rockwell both for his helpful daily blog, and for introducing me to the works of such great people!
Today’s post has me thinking about some of the silly ways that organizations that I’ve worked for have attempted (and failed) to motivate and build morale, such as put in basically playground equipment to make it look like it’s a fun place to work. For me personally, “Build competence” is a heavy hitter for motivation as I always want to do the best job that I can. I’d love to read Susan Fowler’s book for more insights for … um … motivating people(!)