Thought Leadership Blog

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Motivation is Volatile; Employers CAN Create and MUST Sustain It!

The greatest opportunities missed by individuals or businesses involve de-motivation.  In many instances, blame-shifting is replacing appropriate action.   While most people agree that motivation is a moving target,  “train the trainer” coaching activities are becoming increasingly more in demand.   While not always feasible, it is certain that motivation can be created.  Ample data exists, and we’ve successfully taught others to create and sustain employee motivation.  The business and personal rewards are too enormous to overlook.  The missed opportunities hurt the bottom line and morale


By definition, “motivation” is a willingness or reason to do something.  It stems from hope and/or confidence that effort or action will influence outcome.  To determine if motivation can be influenced, one must first determine if motivation, or lack thereof, is situational or core to the individual.  Proper coaching and motivation skills must be deployed at the very first interaction and sustained throughout.  


Motivation is typically situational, volatile, changeable and easily influenced.   The manager who instills hope and confidence can be rewarded with increased productivity and loyalty.  De-motivation occurs when employers send negative messages (or fail to send positive messages) about the outcomes of work effort, crushing hope or employee confidence.  De-motivation also occurs in stagnant or backsliding organizations.  De-motivation can in itself cause stagnation or backsliding.  Employers and members of management at all levels must take responsibility to build and sustain hope and confidence.  Without rewards and positive feedback, even top performers will lose their "drive."  


However, where core motivation doesn’t exist, it may be a costly and inappropriate investment for an employer.  De-motivation may occur during childhood when parents or other circumstances fail to build hope, inspiration and confidence.  Conversely, some individuals pull through the same circumstances with heightened determination, relentlessly seeking approval, survival and/or betterment.  These core motivations can be more solid and less easily influenced by management or training technique.  It is a manager’s responsibility to distinguish between situational or core motivation.   In a labor intensive environment, it is in the employer’s best interest to ensure managers have the resources to make this distinction.


By NO means do I take the responsibility off of employees.  People need to “suck it up” and do some work.  Whining is never an acceptable solution.  I found gainful employment at the age of 8 and have never stopped working.  Motivation is perpetuated by simply working hard until you achieve results.  Those results will feed more motivation.  If not, the desperation should motivate.  It’s simple survival skills… life skills!  Employees must always understand that demonstration of motivation through results is the only way to sustain gainful employment and get ahead.  Employees must take responsibility for the results of their work and be accountable, always willing to improve and be challenged.


In the mix of this, managers should not be overinflating employees or bribing them to do their jobs.  Overconfident people present problems, personally and professionally.  Employees don’t need mixed messages.  Rewards come in for the "above and beyond."  Simply doing your job at best yields the right to potentially keep your job and avoid negative consequences; unless someone else steps up to do it more effectively, cheaper, reliably or with a better attitude and potential to advance.


There is nothing more rewarding, both personally and professionally, than instilling hope and motivation into another human being … and watching that person convert new motivation into productivity, results and teamwork toward collaborative gain!   I’ve seen this happen many times and it continues to inspire!  Any disbelievers simply aren’t doing it right and need additional training… maybe they can’t lead by example because they are “unmotivated.”  To motivate, you must yourself be motivated.   Look to the “why” and the answers shall unfold.

Jessica Ollenburg - Friday, September 05, 2008