Do You Really Understand Motivation? It’s Not Them, It’s You

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As you look at your employees, you can’t help thinking that they aren’t motivated.  They are doing the minimum amount of work –nothing bad or wrong, just not the extra effort you would like to see.  They don’t seem driven for “more” –more clients, more money, more opportunity, more responsibility.  As you think about your professional life and how you approach the world, it seems like there is a big gap.

The bad news is, if you are observing these conditions, you likely have a problem.  But that problem isn’t necessarily a motivation problem. Your employees are motivated; They’re just not motivated to do the behaviors that you would like them to do.

In life, we are motivated by what is important to us.  If something is not important to us, we won’t likely act on it.

I know that eating right and exercising is important, but a weekend full of social activities, dinners with friends, and an open invitation to “Sunday Funday” at the neighbor’s pool takes the place of all that.

You would love to earn more money, but earning that money might mean more travel, longer working hours, selling to a tougher customer, or responsibility for things that might be out of your control. If those things are deal breakers, you won’t be motivated to earn more money.

Now imagine that the IRS finds that you owe an additional $20,000 on your taxes.  They want it as soon as possible.  Now what?  Are you open to travel, longer hours, some selling outside of your comfort zone, and a little more responsibility if you know you can pick up an extra $20k?

Conditions have changed what is important to you.

In business leadership, motivation comes from one place—knowing what is important to your people.  As managers of behavior, we typically don’t take enough time to know and understand what is important to the people we are trying to motivate.  Instead, we try things that either motivate us, or guess at what might motivate them.

Imagine spending time with one of your unmotivated people: You want to know what is going on in his or her life.  They offer that they are really struggling to find the time and money to go home to see their family to show off the new baby.  But, with regular working hours and keeping up with the job, they can’t make it happen.  You realize that just hitting one of their goals would help them financially—and exceeding it would allow you to offer them the time off. 

Now how motivated are they toward those goals?

Nobody got out of bed today to make sure the company meets its goals. They didn’t get out of bed to make sure you meet your goals, either. They did it for their own selfish reasons. 

You need to find out what your people want, align those things with the things that you need them to accomplish, and once the dots are connected, they are motivated to a new set of behaviors.

Those conversations require a deeper relationship than most leaders have with their people, but if the goals really are that important to you…you might be motivated to build those relationships and have those conversations.

 

 



 

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