Cherwell IT Service Management Blog
Resources, Best Practices, and Solutions for ITSM Pros

Motivation Made Simple

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If you’re a manager, then you’ve been told at least once that you have to “motivate your people.” But how do you do that? Start by making a change in your head. Forget about “motivating” people. Motivation isn’t something you do to someone else. It’s something we each do for ourselves.

You can’t see motivation. Motivation is inside another person’s head and heart. You can’t touch it. You can’t measure it. And, therefore you can’t manage it. Instead, focus on managing the things you CAN see and measure. Focus on behavior and performance. The things people say and do are behavior. The results of their efforts are performance. Use the things you say and do to influence the behavior and performance of the people who work for you.

Talk your talk. Walk your walk. Your people will pay attention to what you say and do. If you’re consistent, over time, they will even try to do what you want them to do.

Be clear on what you expect. If your team doesn’t know what you want them to do, they’ll guess. And you won’t get the behavior or performance you want, not on purpose, and not consistently.

Learn to give good directions. Constantly check for understanding. Give frequent and usable feedback. If you’re the boss, your job is to help your people succeed and remove any excuses for failing.

Make sure that behavior and performance have consequences. Consequences are the result of behavior and performance. If you touch a hot stove, the pain you feel is a consequence of your behavior. If you make a great sports play or cook a great meal, the joy you feel is a consequence of your performance.

Employ positive consequences. Always tie them to your business’ objectives. Share the connection each time a positive thing is done. Positive consequences include praise, a better assignment, time off and cash. Positive consequences are things people want. They get people to continue what they’re doing or try something new. Reward good behavior and performance. Catch people doing things right.

Bad things should happen when behavior and performance are bad. We call those bad things negative consequences. Negative consequences that you might deliver include discipline, more work, and penalties. They get people to stop what they’re doing. Make bad behavior and performance something that has a consequence every time. And remember that lots of small corrections are better than fewer, bigger corrections.

Keep doing it. This is work that is never done, and it’s the core of your work as a boss. Great bosses do the little things over and over, day after day, consistently, with each person on their team. Simple — but not easy. You can do it!

What motivates you?