Posts Tagged ‘motivation’

Outsource Inspiration: Use End-Users to Motivate Employees

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

As a manager or leader you’re expected to inspire and motivate your staff. But here’s an idea: delegate or outsource inspiration.


In study after study, it’s been demonstrated that employees are not ultimately inspired or motivated by bonuses or rewards. In fact, one of the most motivational factors is employees knowing what impact their work is having on the end user.

Note: Read Daniel Pink’s book, Drive, for more information on what motivates employees. It’s awesome.

So, have end-users connect with your employees. Have them tell your employees how their work impacts them.

I’m not a great believer in focus groups. I think you get “safe” information from them. You often get group think. You don’t get real honest, out of the box thinking.

But if you were to use a focus group, have your employees sit down with your end-users, asking them what your product or service means to them. Don’t bother asking for feedback on what the end-users would do to improve the product or service – that’s not what you’re looking for. Just get the end-users to motivate your employees by talking about what your product or service means to them. Get to the emotions behind what your business represents to the end-user.

That will motivate your employees more than anything.

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What Motivates You May Not Motivate Me

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Motivation is personal: What motivates me may not motivate you. Well, duh!

Let’s use a company’s sales staff as an example. Put yourself in a sales manager’s shoes.

What motivates your sales staff? Is it money? Some will say all good sales people are motivated by money, and that’s why commission works. But does it? I’ve talked with some extremely successful sales people who say that once they have their basic needs covered, more money isn’t the motivation. It’s the challenge, the knowledge that they’re doing something special, that they’re contributing to something bigger than just them, that they’re connecting with people… that’s what motivates them. And that falls directly inline with what Daniel Pink wrote about in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. He refers to what motivates today’s workforce as Motivation 3.0.

Instead of looking at your sales staff and pointing the finger at their lack of success, look in the mirror and ask, “Am I doing everything I can to make my sales people successful? Am I doing what’s necessary to motivate my staff?”

In a discussion about compensation plans, commissions, perks, bonuses, and all sorts of other incentives and so-called motivators, a manager I was talking to recently suggested a bonus of a trip to Hawaii for the leading sales person. I then asked, “Would that motivate all your staff?” He looked at me with a face that said, “Well, why not?”

What motivates you may not motivate your sales staff. For example, what if the leading sales person – the one that won the trip to Hawaii – hates to travel. In fact, she is terrified of flying. What if? So, while a trip to some exotic destination may be a motivator to you, it may not be to someone else. Personally, I find it hard to imagine someone not wanting to go to Hawaii, but it could happen. In fact, I’ve met people who think a trip like that would be painful.

How can you motivate someone if you don’t know what drives them? Using a blanket approach to this – using the same method to motivate all people – does not work.

The top three things that a great manager of people does is provide clear expectations, provide lots of feedback, and develops a personal connection with her people. As part of the latter, a great manager should learn about what motivates her staff.

If I walked up to you right now and asked, “What motivates each member of your staff?” how would you respond? Could you give me a solid answer?

This doesn’t apply just to people that report to you. It works for everyone whom you want to help perform better. It can apply to your boss, your co-workers, teammates, peers. Do you know what motivates your boss?

How do you determine what motivates someone? Well, you could ask them! As part of the process of developing a good working relationship, perhaps a discussion about what motivates you both is a great place to start. Understanding that what motivates you may not motivate me or anyone else, and then determining what does motivate people, will lead to better performance.

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Lack of Sales? The Solution May Be Right Under Your Nose

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Sales. What company doesn’t want more sales? Is the solution to finding them an external or internal thing? Is it the economy (an easy thing to blame), the sales staff, or something else?

Within a week I had conversations with two different groups of people about how to increase sales. One was a company I’m doing some consulting for, and the other a group of business owners with whom I get together with (not often enough!) to share thoughts and ideas.

In looking at how to increase sales, both groups were focused on how to find and hire good sales people. We talked about all sorts of ways of identifying people who would be great sales people. We talked about using various personality instruments and tests to determine the traits that make a great sales person. We talked about recruiting techniques, about interviewing, about resumes. But in the end, both groups seemed to be resigned to not being able to find and/or choose the exact right person who will be a sales superstar. The conclusion was that it’s practically impossible to identify someone who will be a high-performing sales person.

I heard comments like, “You just can’t find a good sales person. They just don’t seem to want to work hard enough. It’s like I have to do it all.”

After much discussion I wondered out loud, “Is it a matter of finding the right person, or a matter of managing the people you have to make them successful?” In both cases, the people I was talking to were open-minded enough to consider that as being a big factor, one that could make a big difference.

To quote Sheryl Crow in the song, Soak Up The Sun, “It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got.”

Could it be that the solution to finding the right sales superstar is right under your nose? Could it be that you already have the right sales person? Could it be that you need to manage that employee for success, for performance?

In a separate conversation, I asked a manager, “What motivates your sales people?” She looked at me with a blank stare. She had no idea. I asked, “What do you know about your people – and I mean, personally?” Another blank stare. This manager had little to no knowledge about her staff, about what could possibly motivate them to become high-performers.

A theme for many of my blog posts is centered around personal accountability and if you’ve read more than a few of my posts, I suspect you believe in that. If you didn’t take personal responsibility for what goes on around you, it’s likely I would have offended you by now and you wouldn’t be reading this! So, when I suggest that the lack of sales – or anything else for that matter, as I’m using sales as an example right now – is something that you need solve yourself, I suspect you’re already onside with me.

Is it a matter of finding that one-in-million superstar that does everything and more with absolutely no management whatsoever, or is it a matter of looking at yourself – and your company/team as a whole – and figure out how to make that individual or group successful?

Ahh, but one qualifier: I do believe that the person or people you’re managing has to want to be successful, has to want to managed for success. But that’s a topic for another day.

Pink, Motivation, Drive & the Non-Idiots Club

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. That’s the title of Daniel Pink’s new book, and it’s awesome for anyone in business (Interested in learning how to motivate employees?). It’s also great for parents. And anyone who works with others in sports or the arts. Okay, for practically anyone. Anyone interested in learning about what motivates us.

I love this book! Why? Well, partly because it’s typical of Pink’s writing – clear, easy-to-read, well-researched, and entertaining. But also because it supports what I’ve been saying, pushing for, and communicating for a number of years. And, because through the research that Pink writes about, he’s proven to me that I’m not quite the idiot that some people think!

I once worked very hard to promote and implement performance-enhancing systems, processes and management approaches that are in alignment with the research in Drive. But I was up against what Pink refers to as Motivation 2.0 thinking – the old carrot and stick model of motivating employees. After a great deal of effort and banging my head against the wall, even I began to believe that I might be an idiot for the way I was thinking.

My thinking had come from four sources:

  • Reading huge volumes of information from a variety of disciplines, ranging from business school texts to coaching books.
  • Hands-on, in-the-trenches experience.
  • Coach training.
  • A lot of thought, reflection and consideration.

When I read something, I’d think about it and then apply it. If it worked, I’d do more of it, and think about why it worked. If it continued to work, I’d do a lot more of it, and think even more. And if it still continued to work, I’d come to the conclusion that this should be used by more than just me – I tried to synthesize and systemize it, teach the techniques, develop a culture that supported it, and promote the approach in a way that anyone could gain from it.

What was it that I was trying to drive into the organization? What Pink calls Motivation 3.0. If Motivation 1.0 is our basic survival needs (hunger, thirst and sex), and Motivation 2.0 is the carrot and stick approach of getting people to do things, Motivation 3.0 is made up of three things:

  1. Autonomy
  2. Mastery
  3. Purpose

I plan to write more about autonomy, mastery and purpose in future blogs. But, if you have any interest in helping others perform better, whether as a manager, a business owner, a leader, a coach, a teacher, or a parent, I highly recommend you read Daniel Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.

And, if you’ve ever felt deep down inside that there’s more to motivating others than just dangling a carrot or threatening with a stick, read Drive. You may find out you’re not an idiot after all! You may find that what your gut has been telling you all along is backed up by solid research – research that can help you help others perform even better.

Welcome to the Non-Idiots Club and the future of motivation.

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