How to motivate employees? Don’t.

Written by Signal vs. Noise - - Aggregated on Monday September 9, 2019

Do this instead. Here are 6 ways to motivate your team that doesn’t undermine their intrinsic employee motivation that they already have.

I need to figure out how to motivate my employees.” When was the last time thought that to yourself? It could’ve been the other week, when you noticed one of your direct reports dragging his feet on a project that’s critical to the company. Or, perhaps it was the other month when you felt frustrated that your team wasn’t being proactive about addressing customer issues.

If either of these situations feel even remotely familiar, you’re not alone. I hear this sentiment of “how to motivate employees” frequently from managers we work with who use Know Your Team, and I often am asked countless questions about it.

We, as leaders, are not the only ones thinking this. Employees themselves admit that they don’t feel as motivated at work as they’d like. According to Gallup, only 2 in 10 employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.

However, this question of, “How to motivate my employees as a manager?” is a misguided one. It implies that motivation is something we give another person. That’s patently false.

Motivation is not a thing we give to people – motivation a thing people already have. Employees inherently have energy, ideas, gifts, and talents that are worth being shared with the world. We, as leaders, simply need to get out of their way and create a space for that energy, ideas, gifts, and talents to thrive.

The question we should ask ourselves isn’t, “How can I motivate my team?” but rather, “How can I create an environment for my team members to motivate themselves?”

I’ve been thinking about the answer to this question for the past almost ten years 

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