People, get yourselves motivated!

Countless studies have confirmed that if people are motivated they perform better, and are happier and healthier. Just goes to show, I hear you say, that managers should be doing everything they can to motivate their employees. However, my take on this is that everyone is responsible for their own motivation levels.

Our employees are the drivers of our success: They are at the heart of our organization and we want them to be happy and to do well. That’s why as CEO I have often caught myself feeling responsible for the level of motivation among our employees. And it was precisely at those times when I tried to raise motivation levels that I failed. Miserably.

Now you could say that I’m just not doing my job properly. But I would say that motivating our employees is not part of my job; but what is down to me is to create the framework and the conditions that enable employees to motivate themselves. Here’s my advice on the subject of motivation:


  1. Don’t take responsibility for the motivation of your employees.

Your employees are responsible for their own levels of motivation. Your job is to create an appealing environment for them, pay them appropriately, offer them long-term prospects and thank them for their contribution. But even if you do all that perfectly, there’s no guarantee that your employees will be motivated. Motivation springs from within the person themselves and the only motivation that you are responsible for is your own.


  1. Demand motivation from your employees!

Some job descriptions read like the psychological profile of A. Perfect-Person. I know, I’m exaggerating, but you’re allowed to insist on certain things, such as, fluent Business English skills, for instance, because such skills are essential. So why can’t you insist on motivation? You fulfill your side of the bargain by creating a good environment – by the same token, your employees owe you motivated commitment.


  1. Set high standards for your employees‘ performance.

Monotony and boredom are the real killers of motivation. A motivation-fostering environment is one where there are challenges that stretch your employees, challenges they will enjoy. Many employees are demotivated because they are under-challenged; what they need is more incentive. Time after time we have seen high-caliber employees who were not motivated: Traditional approaches to this issue got us nowhere, fast. Neither job enlargement, nor job rotation, nor greater trust and freedoms brought about any positive change whatsoever. So, instead, we started raising the bar. This spurred employees on to perform to a higher level, and to draw fresh motivation from this tougher goal-setting. Because: If you tackle one challenge successfully, you’ll be hungry for the next.


How about you? Do you feel responsible for your employees‘ motivation? Do you succeed in motivating your employees on a long-term basis?


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