Video: Profiles in Motivation - What Motivation Looks Like in Real Life
What You Will Learn In This Article
What is Motivation
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.