Why Managers Struggle To Keep People Motivated

Every manager knows that when they are managing highly motivated people they are much more likely to achieve better results.  At the same time there is often a huge disconnect between what managers know and what managers do.


One of the things I often ask managers when running workshops is a very simple question.  The simple question is this:


When was the last time you asked someone that you manage what really motivates them at work?


The results are usually astonishing.  If I am lucky 10% of the managers will have asked this question of one or more of their team in the last month.  If I go to the last six months I might get up to 25%.  Most of the time the vast majority have never asked this question or a few might have asked it at a job interview – which is long forgotten by the time they start work.


Now you might think it is not natural to ask the question exactly as I ask it and of course you can modify it.  At the same time I am sure you appreciate that it is going to be much easier to get the best from each member of your team and achieve better results if you are drawing on what fires people up.


If you look at research on motivation, what matters to people is very personal.


Of course money will matter to everyone up to a point.  After all we all need somewhere to live and need to eat.  Yet it is unlikely to be a long term motivator.  It can however be a de-motivator if people feel they are not appropriately rewarded.


Being treated well by their boss is a bigger motivator than most managers think.  A lot of research into why people leave an organisation reveals that it is down to how their boss treats them rather than a dislike for the job itself.


Some like to be praised publicly when they have done a really good piece of work.  Others will want minimum fuss and a very low key acknowledgement of their achievements.


Others will be highly motivated by making progress in their career.  Giving these types of people opportunities to do new things and gain additional experience will really fire them up.


The reality is that if you want to keep people motivated you need to understand others motivations and then try to respond to what motivates them in order to get the best results.


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