Finding a way to motivate someone, whether it is a friend, co-worker, family member, or someone whom you have been asked to lead as their manager/supervisor can be one of the hardest things to do. We live in a world that is constantly changing. Changes in an individual’s personal and/or professional environment will affect their morale, especially changes viewed as being negative. Low morale destroys motivation resulting in unhappiness, dissatisfaction, bad decisions, frustration, conflict, and poor performance.
The number one key to being a successful motivator is putting others first. While one’s ultimate goal for motivating others may be to increase results, improve their own situation, or make themselves feel more motivated, if your primary focus is on you, then you will not succeed. When you focus on the individual(s) you are trying to motivate and their motivation increases, you will achieve your goal.
Successful motivators understand that building morale begins with them. They understand that to be an effective motivator requires setting the example. They understand that their behavior and attitude affects the individuals with whom they interact and sets the tone for the environment in which they operate. Successful motivators also understand that motivating others requires time and commitment in order to achieve it’s intended results.
Another key to successful motivation is acknowledging personal and professional events in an individual’s life. For example, congratulating someone when they win an award, graduate from school, or their team wins the big game. Other examples include expressing sympathy at the loss of a loved one or when a friend or family member is ill. One of the best ways to show acknowledgement is to simply ask someone how he or she is doing. In a professional or work related environment acknowledging an employee may also include rewards, incentives, or a positive note in their personnel file. One of the most powerful ways to motivate an employee is by simply acknowledging the work the good job they have done by simply saying “Thank you”. In essence, acknowledging is demonstrating to others that you care. This reminds of a little acronym a friend of mine once shared with me: People Receiving Acknowledgement and Incentive Shall Excel.
Successful motivation also involves listening. The three “A’s” of listening are:
First, be available. When a friend, co-worker, or family member comes to you with information needing to be shared or they come seeking your counsel and advice, make yourself available, even if this means scheduling a later time to meet with them and listen. During my career I have learned that this is especially important if you serve in a management or supervisory position. Being willingly to listen to an employee’s questions, issues or concerns will have a greater impact on the manager/subordinate relationship. As manager/supervisor, being available also means having a presence amongst your employees. A manager who is rarely seen or heard by his or her employees will be a less successful motivator.
Second, listening means acknowledging that you have a sincere desire to understand what is being shared. This is done by keeping an open and objective mind, displaying proper body language, and by asking questions to clarify the information being shared. Listening does not mean you have to agree with the individual.
Third, listening means, when necessary, acting upon the information being shared in an appropriate and timely manner.
Sometimes your friends, family or co-workers come to you needing help. Perhaps they are faced with a tough situation and they lack the knowledge, skills, or resources to fix the situation, and due to this situation their desire and motivation has plummeted. Many times we can simply fix it for them or give them the things they are in need of. However, in the end this is not helping them. It may motivate them for a short time, but eventually they will probably be faced with a similar situation again and will lose that motivation. When problems arise and motivation deteriorates, the best thing we can do to help others is to empower them to resolve the problem themselves. The dictionary defines the word Empower as “to give ability to; enable or permit.” To empower or give the ability to others may mean teaching or training them so that they have the necessary knowledge and skills. It may mean helping them understand what they need to do in order to obtain the resources they need. Empowering also means recognizing the knowledge, skills, talents, and abilities and individual already has and giving them the opportunity to utilize their knowledge, skills, talents, and abilities. When people feel empowered they are more likely to take responsibility to do the things they need to do and the things others require them to do, because they want to do it.