Management is a Journey®

Helping You With the People Side of the Business™

What is Motivation?

In This Article

(Click the links below to move easily to sections of this article)

What is Motivation
How Motivation Works
How Motivation Affects You and Your Team
Why Motivation is Important
Conclusion
Video 1: What is Motivation?
Video 2: What Motivation in the Real World Looks Like!
Survey: Employee Motivation
Motivation in the Workplace Article Series
Member Content: Additional Resources


Back to Top

What is Motivation

Motivation Puzzle PieceMotivation is critical to effective management and leadership. Organizational productivity declines when employees are not motivated to fulfill the organization’s objectives.

But, what exactly is motivation, and how does it relate to you as you manage and lead your team? Understanding the history of the word motivation can help us apply it to the business world.

Motivation comes from the word “motive.” The original meaning of the word motive deals with movement. Movement is central to motivation.

What is it that then that causes any of us to move from where we are currently to another place?

Consider the following:

Whether we are leaving the house to do a simple task (like grocery shopping) or making a major life change (like moving to another state or country), we make these movements for a reason. We do this because these actions allow us to fulfill something that is important to us (something that we value).

This idea of movement in the words “motive” and “motivation” is all about taking action.

Motivation is all about our internal desire to accomplish something that is important to us. This motivation (desire) makes us take action. Motivation is about an unmet need that we want to satisfy; it’s about a goal that we want to fulfill.

*Webster defines “motive” as follows:

Something within a person (as need, idea, . . . or emotion) that incites him to act.

Motivation then is a strong desire to act — to achieve something that has valence for us (something we want).  As Psychology Today states, motivation is literally the desire to do things. It comes from our needs, values, and goals.

You cannot force motivation on anyone. Motivation is a strong desire to accomplish something and it is both personal and internal. Click To Tweet

Back to Top

How Motivation Works

The interesting thing about motivation is that it is largely internal.

If someone wants us to be motivated to take some action, the most that they can do is influence us — appeal to us.  They have to key in to our needs, emotions, and goals. Marketers, sales professionals, and politicians understand this well.

Let’s apply this concept to you. It makes sense that no one can force you to want do something. They cannot tell you what your needs are nor can they insist that what they value is what you should value. Finally, they cannot give you a strong desire to fulfill certain goals. Your motivation (needs, values, and goals) come from you.

When someone, like your boss, wants you to do something, you may comply because he or she has power over you. The fact that you did what they want does not mean you were happy about doing it — nor, does it mean that you even wanted to do it.

Your motivation to do something must come from within you! It has to be something that you want to do. The same is true for your team of employees.

Force someone against their will and they are of the same opinion still. They may obey you but it does not mean they were motivated to do so. Click To Tweet

Back to Top

How Motivation Affects You And Your Team

Since motivation is individual, you cannot have a one-approach-fits-all attitude about motivation.

The truth is that the goals that you want to fulfill in the workplace and in your career may be of little interest to others working with you. They simply may not have the same motivations as you do.

This understanding of the origin of the word motivation and its internal focus has special meaning for you as a manager as you seek to get your team to follow your lead. Technically, you cannot “motivate your team.”  Your team has to want to fulfill your organization’s objectives for themselves.

Your power as a manager to motivate your employees comes through your ability to create the working environment in which they work. The working environment that you create will either appeal positively to their internal motivation or it will be viewed negatively as something that de-motivates them.

Motivation is individual. What motivates you in the workplace may have little value to your team members. Click To Tweet

Back to Top

Why Motivation is Important

Motivation is not only important to your team members, it is critically important to your own success as a manager.

(In my early days as a manager, I learned this the hard way when I was continually passed over for promotion to a higher level management job.)

As a manager, if you can gain real commitment from your team members to fulfill your organization’s objectives, you will succeed in your own career.

First, senior leaders will take notice of your ability to effectively work with your team. (Being thought of highly by senior leadership, can accelerate your upward career growth.)

Second, your team will be more productive because they actually want to meet workplace goal themselves.

In the end, having team members that feel motivated to do their work may be more important to you than it is to them.

When employees are motivated they perform better and they make their managers look effective. Click To Tweet

Back to Top

Conclusion

Despite significant odds, why do some managers succeed where other managers have failed?

It’s because these managers know how to promote workplace motivation. These managers know how to influence their team of employees to work with them instead of against them.

As a leader, one of your most effective ways to gain your team members’ cooperation is by positively influencing their motivational needs. The key to this activity is  to align your organizational objectives with the individual needs, emotions, and goals of your individual team members. You have to create a working environment that fosters their different internal motivations.

When you learn how to match what you want done in the workplace with your employees’ internal motivators, you will create a high performing team who takes ownership of their work duties.

You’ll create partners to help you with your difficult job of being a manager!


Back to Top

Video 1: What is Motivation?

*Music for this video is courtesy of Bensound.com (https://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music.)

Back to Top

Video 2: What Motivation in the Real World Looks Like!

*Music for this video is courtesy of www.musicrevolution.com.

Back to Top

Survey: Employee Motivation


Back to Top

Motivation in the Workplace Article Series


Back to Top

Member Content: Additional Resources

  • 4 Ways To Send Employees Running For the Door!
  • Why Some Employee Motivation Efforts Fail

  • Some managers create work environments where their employees are enthusiastic about giving their best. Other managers create work environments where their team members just struggle to make it through the day. Click To Tweet

    *Webster’s Third International Dictionary. (1986). Chicago, IL: Merriam-Webster.

    Written by Robert Tanner | Copyrighted Material | All Rights Reserved Worldwide

    Robert Tanner, MBA

    Welcome to my leadership blog. I'm the Founder & Principal Consultant of Business Consulting Solutions LLC, a certified practitioner of psychometric assessments, and a former Adjunct Professor of Management. As a leadership professional, I bring 20+ years of real world experience at all levels of management.

    Expert Interview

    Wall Street Journal

    Expert Presenter

    Association of Talent Development

    Expert Interview

    Society for Human Resource Management

    MANAGEMENT DEVELOPMENT

    READY to take the next step in your success as a manager?

    Become a Management is a Journey® Patron and gain access to premium membership content to help you succeed with the people side of the business.

    (NEW content added monthly)

    Bronze Tier Membership

    $5.00 monthly (17¢ per day)

    BENEFITS

    • Patron-only articles
    • Patron-only audio
    • Patron-only videos

    BONUS

    • Special Report: Managing Generation Y (Millennials)
    • Access to premium leadership blog content

    Silver Tier Membership

    $10.00 monthly (33¢ per day)

    BENEFITS

    • Minibooks
    • Tools
    • Patron-only articles
    • Patron-only audio
    • Patron-only videos

    BONUSES

    • Special Report: 9 Steps to a Motivated Workforce
    • Infographic Cheatsheet Questionnaire: Is Your Organization Ready for Change?
    • Special Report: Managing Generation Y (Millennials)
    • Access to premium leadership blog content

    Gold Tier Membership

    $15.00 monthly (50¢ per day)

    BENEFITS

    • Lessons
    • Minibooks
    • Tools
    • Patron-only articles
    • Patron-only audio
    • Patron-only videos

    BONUSES

    • Special Report: 30 Low & No Cost Ways to Reward Your Employees
    • Special Report: 5 Strategies to Build Support for Organizational Change
    • Special Report: 9 Steps to a Motivated Workforce
    • Infographic Cheatsheet Questionnaire: Is Your Organization Ready for Change?
    • Special Report: Managing Generation Y (Millennials)
    • Access to premium leadership blog content