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What Motivates Your Employees?

"I just can't seem to motivate these people."

I often hear that from corporate leaders. I tell them: "Stop trying. You'll never be able to motivate them."

The advice of a quitter?

Not at all, because the next thing I tell them is this: "They're already motivated. Find out what it is that motivates them, and use this knowledge to channel their energy in the direction you want it to go."

Some people are like water in a faucet. It's already motivated to flow, but it doesn't have the opportunity until you open the tap. Your people may be bursting with energy and waiting only for you to provide them the opportunity to use it constructively.

Others are like mountain streams, which flow swiftly but follow their own courses. If you want them to turn your wheel, you have to provide them with a channel. Your organization may be full of people who are moving energetically toward their own goals. Your challenge is to open up inviting channels that will focus their energy on corporate goals.

Remember that people don't do things for your reasons. They act for their own reasons. Your challenge is to provide them with good reasons to do what you want them to do.

Those reasons may involve either gain or pain. When the gain from changing a behavior outweighs the comfort of remaining in a rut, a person will change. When the pain of remaining in a certain behavior outweighs the discomfort of leaving the rut, a person will change.

Pride is a powerful motivator. Everybody is proud of something. When you know what makes your people proud, you can use that insight to channel their motivation.

But remember: You can't change people. You can only change their behaviors. To change their behaviors, you must change their feelings and beliefs.

You may think that what they feel and believe is wrong-headed and preposterous. But to them, perception is reality, and what they perceive seems perfectly reasonable and rational. Understand that and respect their perceptions. Then you'll be in a better position to change them to the reality you perceive.

You consistently get the behaviors you consistently expect and reinforce. Look for ways to reward employees for doing the things you want them to do. Conversely, use disincentives to discourage the behavior you don't want to see. You'll find yourself leading an organization of motivated employees with energies focused on the things you want to accomplish.

copyright Nido R Qubein

For more on this topic, we recommend the following:
The Wise Ways of Transformational Leaders (six CD set)

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