I was reading the daily Incentive Intelligence entitled “Internal Motivation vs. External Influence“, which in a nutshell says you can’t apply external pressure to get people motivated – this is something that comes from within.
[M]otivation is an internal thing. You cannot create motivation – you can create an environment where people are motivated to focus on the objectives you want. This is not a minor point. Many times clients will ask… “how do I motivate my channel, or employees?” You can’t. But what I can do is put a program or initiative in place that offers something that will create a motivational desire within the audience.
I get this – I really do. But at different points in my life, I’ve also been that slacker, the guy that really just wants to punch the clock and do the least to get in, get out, and get on. I was cool just taking the tasks as they came, and knew that what I didn’t get to today would still be waiting for me tomorrow. If a wheel squeaked ahead of schedule, I’d give it enough attention to fall off my radar again.
But then, it hits me – whack!- maybe I was a setting-specific slacker. Maybe this wasn’t a character deficiency or a lifestyle, just a poor fit. Manage Smarter writes:
Never assume that people lack motivation. We often assume that if people aren’t doing what we want them to do they aren’t motivated. The truth is that people are motivated. They’re motivated to do what they’re currently doing more than they’re motivated to do what you want them to do. When it comes to motivation, it’s never a matter of lighting a fire; it’s always a matter of helping people restructure their priorities. People already have the fire; it’s our job to capture and direct it toward corporate objectives.
So does this mean that I was a motivated slacker? Is this an oxymoron? Did my boss just fail to recognize my (immature, admitted) shortcomings? Even then, I had the potential to become the contributor that I am today.
As a hiring manager now, would I be willing to take on a motivated slacker when building my team? What if this person is already on your bus? Are you willing to be the career partner under whose tutelage this person flourishes? Are you prepared to develop today’s slackers into tomorrow’s stars? Is this a good use of your time?
[hat tip to Incentive Intellignence]
I couldn’t agree more! It’s impossible to instill motivation within an employee but employers can make changes to the environment to help motivate.
The challenge is to figure out what motivates people – which really could be a number of things depending on the person – and build an environment that provides these incentives. It’s very difficult to create an environment where everyone can flourish, be motivated, feel valued, trusted, etc. I think this is being achieved right now at Best Buy, who has teamed with CultureRx to create a Results-Only Work Environment, ROWE.
What seems to work well about a ROWE, is that people value their time and are consistently seeking work/life balance. Unlike other flexible work arrangements, ROWE can work for anyone! It’s not about only being able to telecommute, work 4 10s, etc. It really can be adapted to suit the employee & their unique workstyle & lifestyle. That a company as large as Best Buy would take a risk & implement this kind of environment can only be motivating to its employees. So far their business results seem to confirm this!
Thanks for your comments Marissa. We’ve been watching CultureRx for some time.
We look forward to ROWE discussions on the west coast (Portland, OR for example – hint, hint). Mall of America wasn’t possible this spring.