What no one has been able to tell about why your team is stagnating

Motivating and inspiring your workforce to produce the business results you’re responsible to deliver is one of the most challenging tasks a manager has. And, it is probably the most frustrating!

You’ve tried everything…….cash bonuses, clear targets with attached rewards, pizza parties complete with beer, off-sites at cool places where you can get to know each other and have fun, or you may have even invited them to your house for dinner so you seem like a real person. While some of these things may give you a slight blip in motivation, often it is short lived. You’re left puzzled as to how to develop and sustain the good will of these activities so it translates into great team work and ultimately the business value you’re chartered to deliver.

The mystery behind motivation is that there are two layers to it and most managers only get one right. This is what makes your team loyalty short lived, even though the time and money investment has been high.

Learning to appeal to both layers of motivation is what unlocks the enthusiasm for the work that results in the team, or an individual, contributing at its best.

The first layer is obvious and most managers do a pretty good job of using this as a motivational tool. It is appealing to what people are passionate about, both at work and in their personal or recreational life. The reason this is easier is because we talk openly about what’s important to us and share what we find energizing and fun. A few targeted questions will unlock this aspect of a person.

The second layer, the tough one to discover, is often hidden to other people because it represents what a person needs from his or her environment and the people that surround them. And, there can often be a contradiction between what a person expresses as a passion and the internal needs that, when met, bring out the best in that person.

I was working with a client just this week who is a perfect example of how these two layers can be very different. He loves to engage with people; coaching, teaching, debating, helping, giving, selling, are all things that are fun for him. However, the secret motivator is that he really needs time alone without any people around him. Do you get the contradiction? A natural way to appeal to him in a work situation is to put him in a role where he’s a sales person. However, even though he may love his job, he could easily burn out and become anti-social because at some point he needs a break from people. And, what we need becomes more important than what we love.

Now imagine if you’re entire team had this type of extreme contradiction between the two layers of motivation. It does happen! This complexity makes it difficult for even the best managers to motivate their teams achieve and sustain success.

If you’re struggling to light a fire under your team, see beyond what they love and start looking for what they need.

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