Getting Action: Motivation

I remember Dan Reeves, coach of the Denver Broncos back in the 80’s, making a comment back then that caught me by surprise. Dan was being asked by the press how he was getting his team “up” for the next game. He said, more or less, “It’s not my job to motivate the players.” I can also remember running track in high school and hearing the sprint coach, who was also the football coach, joke that he thought coaching track is so much easier than football because all he had to say was, “Run fast.” In both cases, the coach insinuated that their athletes were self-motivated. The one thing leaders need to understand about motivation is that all effective motivation is self-motivation.

There are three types of motivation: negative, positive, and attitudinal. Negative is fear-based and, as any parent knows, brings the strongest short-term response. Negative incentives are threats of dire consequence if tasks are not completed. The problem with threats is that they lose effectiveness if they are too heavily relied upon and can result in retaliatory actions. Positive incentives are most often cash incentives. The problem with cash incentives is that the motivation lasts only as long as the payment remains in employees’ short-term memory. Attitudinal are intrinsic rewards that play to employees’ deeper needs; where the needs and incentive last in long duration. Examples of these needs are achievement, recognition, prestige, or familial responsibilities. Attitudinal motivation is most desirable because of its lasting effectiveness and ability to build employee loyalty.

The easiest way to build attitudinal motivation in a business is to make the business a desirable place to work. Companies that hire the best employees have the best chance of an engaged workforce. From my experience, companies that have developed a strong brand attract good employees. However, having a recognized brand is a luxury many businesses have not come to afford. Having a leader that is passionate about their business, able to articulate strong values, and able select employees that are committed to those values will create an attractive workplace. Recalling the last post on attitude, a leader with a positive attitude will attract employees with like attitude. The last piece to developing motivation is developing employee relationships where the leader understands what is most important to employees and helping them find a way to get what they want. Employees’ desire for opportunities to advance, ability to provide for their families, contributions to their community, and ability to adventure on their time off creates tremendous loyalty and motivation if satisfied. I offer a motivational value survey that scores interest in seven value areas. Anyone interested in trying it with a “comp”, please drop me an email. Developing a highly motivated team often entails culture change for organizations. Culture change is a big deal and help is valuable. Feel free to email questions or request information on how Accelerated Achievements can help.

2-Minute or So Video: Motivation Case Study