How Does Motivation Really Work?

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How Does Motivation Really Work? It’s always the first thing we look for in business, our Motivation. We try and inspire it in those that work for us and we try to inspire it in ourselves. But what motivates us, may not be what works for others. Why Not?

Simply put, we’re all built differently and we all have individual motivators that inevitably drive us in our everyday lives. For you, the success of your business is the motivator, that’s why you put your effort, heart and passion into it. But what about your employees or sub-contractors, shouldn’t they also be motivated by the success of the business? I mean, it does pay their wages so the viability and longevity of the business should be top of their list as well.

Your business is just one of many life factors that are important to your employees. So, what type of motivators work and what doesn’t?

This is the part where you, as the business owner, must do some personal one on one work with your team. You need to spend the time to understand what is happening in their lives right now and how YOU can best use that information to provide valuable and meaningful motivation for them.

There are two main types of motivators:

  1. Intrinsic – motivators originate inside the individual driven by internal or personal rewards
  2. Extrinsic – driven by external rewards such as money, fame, grades, and praise.

Have a think about what really motivates you. If it is the business, what is it about the business. Think in terms of the intrinsic / extrinsic motivators. Make a list detailing both forms. What you will discover is that the motivation drivers may at time vary depending on where you are currently in your life. The same factor applies to your team or employees.

I’ll share a story on what I mean.

I was working with a company who had a lead salesperson who was known for their steady sales record for the last 4 years. They were always within 10% of their average each month and this was around 30% higher than the rest of the team. But something had changed, the last six months had seen that person’s sales fluctuate in a major way. In some months the sales dropped by 80%.

The business owner responded by giving the salesperson a written warning with a verbal butt kicking threatening to reduce or remove his annual bonus after which saw the sales pick up again, but only for a short time. After two months, it dropped again. Another written warning was issued but this time it didn’t work, the sales stayed below the average. Where the owner failed (that’s right, there’s some responsibility on the business owner here) was that they didn’t ask ‘Why?’.

When we sat down with the salesperson and asked why, we began to learn that his daughter had been very sick, and the doctors were finding it difficult to diagnose her. Not only that, it also meant a strain on his relationship with his wife as he was unable to be available when they needed him and this was causing arguments at home. He was feeling lost, depressed and burdened with a feeling that he was letting his family down.

With an understanding of what was now important to him, it was clearly evident that the extrinsic motivator of a bonus and money just wasn’t enough to keep him motivated anymore.

The outcome: We established a more flexible working schedule and gave him more autonomy over this so he could spend time with his family at doctors’ appointments and work at home if needed.

The result: Sales were back on target in the first month, yep, the very first month. Signs are coming in that he we will back at full capacity of his top averages in the coming months.

Why did this work? Simply because we listened to what was important to him in his life situation right NOW and we ACTED on it. This approach made him feel as though he was important to the business and that the business owner really did care, he wasn’t just a salesperson anymore, he was a part of something bigger.

Motivators aren’t always about money. Take the time to know your team and make it a point to do regular check ins. If you see something changing, ask them why and then work with them to make it better.

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