Stop Reaching for the Battery Cables to Motivate Employees!
How many times have you looked forward to a vacation only to feel depressed and de-energized as you head back to work? Or maybe you thought that graduation from college, a new job, a promotion, or reaching a certain age was all you needed to turn on the success “switch” and feel real purpose and joy in your life. In many situations the “blahs” soon return after you reached the milestone or the event is over.
Some people might even feel guilty and remorse about taking the time off. You might even know some people who forego doing fun things and even vacations to avoid the malaise later – “If I take time off, the work only piles up” or “If I go on vacation, I won’t have anything to look forward to later.”
The same thing happens when managers try to jumpstart employees. To energize workers, management and managers grab the proverbial battery cables and strap them on to the ankles of employers. The emotional charge is exhilarating. It’s also exhausting for those who can’t seem to get motivated using their own internal resources and skills and for the managers doing the jumpstart.
What happens is that many employees just sit and lie in wait for the manager to slap those battery cables back on. The bonus, pat-on-the-back, and gift card feels good for a moment but then the employee heads back to his desk and the motivational boost is gone. Without this outside help, discouragement, malaise, and even despair are all that seems to motivate many employees day-to-day. These employees extract a heavy toll on any one they contact.
Yes, that’s correct. Some people look to other sources, other people, and external resources to find their purpose, pride, and passion. Just as they drive up to the gas pump and fill up their automobile, many people pull up alongside managers, co-workers, friends, and family to draw their energy. Life is good when the energy is cheap and plentiful; when others provide opportunity and solutions. It’s full of discouragement and disillusionment when personal effort and accountability is required.
Individuals who lack the motivational skills to be ambitious, accountable, aware, and agile siphon off the energy of others in order to survive. These relationships aren’t symbiotic (mutually beneficial) but parasitic.
As difficult a concept as this is to grasp, motivation is not about how much energy an individual has in his tank. That’s only part of it. Motivation, including self-motivation, has an indisputable and intense quality component to it.
Some people are intense, active, and even passionate but their mindset is motivated by physical and personal sacrifice, hopelessness, and sabotage. On any given day they may walk 10,000 steps. Unfortunately they take 5,000 forward and 5,000 back. They are exhausted but went nowhere.
The same thing happens on the job. Employees expend a lot of energy but often waste as much as they produced. Companies and managers for years have rewarded employees on effort, not productivity and outcomes. They still do.
And there lies the paradigm shift in understanding employee motivation.
Motivation is not some immeasurable force that drives some of us to achieve and others to languish. Motivation is a quantifiable skill that every one of us has. Some of us are just better at moving forward and minimizing steps back. The motivation paradigm shifts when the conversation isn’t just about the quantity of emotion invested but the quality of the behaviors prompted by that motivation.
To experience personal prosperity – purpose, pride, passion, and positivity, all workers from CEO down to the custodian need the motivational skills of ambition, accountability, awareness, agility. Of course the amount needed in the boardroom may be higher than that needed in the boiler room. But the requirement to have these basic life skills is non-negotiable. These four skills – ambition, accountability, awareness, agility – have been isolated by Quality of Motivation research to be the essential catalyst that connects human potential to peak performance.
How are you selecting future employees who are ambitious, accountable, aware, and agile? How you developing employees to be more ambitious, more accountable, more aware, and more agile? The Quality of Motivation is unique in its ability to assess and quantify these skills. Call us today to learn more.