Motivating People- Why it doesnt work
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A topic that I'm often asked about is how to motivate people. Executives are
always looking for ways to improve the attitude and performance of their team.
My clients will tell me about how they've met and worked with each of their team
members to get them to improve their performance but canít seem to make a
The answer is that you can't motivate people. It's not that your people are a
peculiar breed or that theyíre an apathetic bunch. The fact is that you can't
motivate anyone! Motivation only comes from within. People are only
self-motivated. Think of it this way: If you get someone to do something they
don't want to do, its coercion. People will only do what they choose to do.
Don't take my word for it. Use your own experience with people as your best
example. People will generally perform only to a level that matters to them. No
amount of threatening, pleading or rewarding will motivate them into action.
Is that, then, the end of the story? Is there no hope for moving people
beyond their current state? Not at all. There is a way to make a difference. And
it's not a theory. I've seen it work on a regular basis. The key to getting
people to rise above their present level of performance is to 1) develop a
company culture, 2) recruit to a purpose, and then 3) appeal to that purpose to
bring out the best in your people' performance and drive.
1) Developing a Culture Most companies have policies and procedures, employee
manuals and guidelines, effective marketing messages, and beautiful statements
of mission/vision/etc. mounted on the wall. All of those are well and good, but
they don't address the matter which has the greatest impact on their business
and their teams. They don't address the Purpose of the organization and as such,
have no yardstick against which to measure decisions, policies and strategies.
In the absence of a clear Purpose - the "WHY" of the organization - people
are simply hired to fill vacancies, policies are developed which are unclear and
don't further the attainment of a purpose, systems are lacking, actions are
taken which would otherwise be in direct conflict with the Purpose of the
organization, and decisions are made inconsistently, without regard to the
culture of the organization.
In contrast, a business which has a clear Purpose ("Why"), a Mission
("What"), and a set of Values ("How"), hires smarter, has a consistent set of
policies that support its Purpose, has a yardstick to measure its decisions
against, has an easier time attracting and retaining the right people, and has
the means to develop and deliver a clear marketing message.
Letís define and discuss the implications of having Purpose, Mission and
Values in your organization.
Purpose is the "WHY" of the equation. It defines why we do what we do. Each
decision and policy should take the business closer to achieving its "WHY".
Mission is the "WHAT" of the equation. It defines what the business will be
doing to achieve its Purpose. Staying true to the broad "WHAT" will allow the
business to focus on its core activities and strengths.
Values are the "HOW" of the equation. Values define how the Mission will be
carried out in an effort to achieve the Purpose.
Purpose: Purpose defines why we do what we do. It defines why we go to work
each day. Without purpose, people just go through the motions and as most of us
know, thereís a great difference between activity and achievement. Having a
clear purpose creates a yardstick, so to speak, to measure our decisions
against. It helps us become passionate, helps us to select among the many
options presented to us, helps us make better hiring decisions, and keeps us on
track. Itís possible to succeed without a clear purpose, but having one speeds
and magnifies the results.
When a business has a clearly defined purpose it begins to act as a magnet,
attracting the kind of people who will further the purpose; people who are
like-minded. Not only will having a purpose attract the right people, but it
will also act to retain them. This is the power behind the success of many
not-for-profit organizations. Although they often are unable to pay their people
great sums of money, they continue to attract and retain people who are
dedicated and who work hard to achieve the purpose of the organization. While
your organizationís purpose may not be as altruistic as a not-for-profitís
purpose, it definitely plays an important, almost critical, role.
About the Author
by Michael Beck, an Executive Coach and Strategist specializing in
employee engagement, executive development, and leadership
effectiveness. Connect on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/mjbeck
and visit www.michaeljbeck.com
to learn more.
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-12-09 12:06:19 in Employee Articles