Some people argue that no one can motivate another person, but that claim is probably more a matter of semantics than substance. Anyone who can recall working harder for one teacher than others way back in grade school has some sense that one person's behavior can, in fact, inspire greater effort and achievement in others.
Recently Vivian Giang, writing for Business Insider, recently suggested seven ways we can motivate others.
1. Introduce yourself on a personal basis. We think it's more accurate to urge leaders to "interact on a personal level," but Giang's point that first impressions matter is a legitimate one. She suggests that when leaders first meet people in their organizations, they ask about personal interests and plans for the weekend. The point is that people want to be "treated as a person and not another worker." That's always true. Take a personal interest in people. Self-centered leaders struggle with this, but it pays big dividends. Not only will you inspire greater loyalty, you will also have a better idea of how you can link their personal aspirations to your organization's mission and goals — which inspires the deepest sort of motivation.
2. Make sure they know their skills are needed. "Employees need to feel like what they're doing is meaningful and significant in order to value it" themselves. When you connect their work to the organization's larger mission and they know others are relying on them and that their contributions are appreciated, it's easier for them to stay motivated and remain concerned about quality.
3. Make them feel ownership towards the organization. "Get them involved by asking their opinions on planning and decision-making" Giang advises. "This way, they will feel responsible towards where the company is headed."
4. Treat everyone differently. This advice may send chills down the back of your organization's attorney and HR specialists who worry about compliance issues regarding fairness. But we're not talking about rewarding people in fundamentally different ways or having different sets of employment policies. The issue here is taking the time to get to know your people's interests and values, and interacting with them as individuals, not numbers on the payroll roster.
5. Focus on their strengths.Everyone has different strengths and skills that can benefit the organization. Focus on their strengths and how to leverage them for the organization's welfare while providing opportunities to grow in develop in other areas. People who experience on-the-job success are generally motivated to expand their skill set and keep on learning and contributing.
6. Support their risk-taking initiatives. People need to know that they can make mistakes — even if it's not okay to repeat them. Nothing kills initiative and de-energizes an organizational culture more than the sense that the most important consideration is to never make a mistake. And when mistakes are made, the focus must be on learning from them — not on punishing or humiliating the person who erred.
7. Leave your door open. "If you hide behind a closed door all day, no employee will ever become comfortable enough to come to you if they need to," Giang says. Organizations are organisms, and as such they absolutely rely on good feedback to sustain life. Leaders have to do all that they can to assure they are getting good feedback. So beyond living an "open door policy," we also urge leaders to take the initiative and "lead by loitering." When you've got a question, don't summon someone. Instead, get out and interact with others on their own turf. It will help build the essential "we" that's needed to achieve the organization's biggest goals.
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