May 20, 2008

Are you Motivated in the Right Direction?

“My people are just not motivated,” a customer complains. “Deborah, can you put on a workshop to get them motivated and “fix them”?

If I ask for a further explanation as to why the customer thinks their employees are not motivated, it usually has something to do with not getting the things done they want done. They usually mention that their employees are not taking the initiative and working as fast as they expect or are spending time on things that don’t contribute to the organization’s goals.

When I explain that their employees are probably already motivated I get a confused look.

Let’s look at what motivation means. The word “motivation” describes the drive that compels people to take action. People are always moving toward the things they want and away from the things they don’t want.

So when people are perceived as not motivated, they are probably just going toward something they want and not necessarily what the company wants.

“If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there.”
~Lewis Carroll – English Author (1832-1898)

So do your employees know what road to take to get what your organization wants to accomplish? Have you painted a vision of how exciting it will be to go down that road and what it accomplishes when we get there?

In thinking about our Blog’s purpose: for “others who want to become more effective and productive both personally and professionally” has led me to consider what it means to be productive.

Productive people in organizations get things done. Not just any “thing” but the “thing” that the organization wants to get done. When people are productive they are usually seen as motivated in the right direction. “Look at all he has accomplished!” “She is the most productive person we’ve ever had in the job!” managers may exclaim. Then we look around trying to figure out how to clone the person.

There are some folks who because of their experience, education or just intuition know exactly what to do. Some folks will realize they are a crossroads and ask what road to take. But there are still other folks can also be productive and motivated in the right direction if you show them the right road. It’s all about articulating expectations.

I’m convinced that at least 98% of your employees want to do the right thing. After all, have you ever known anyone who wakes up in the morning and says “I think I’ll do the exact opposite of what my manager wants today”? I hope you’ve never meet this person!

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