Need to Know Lessons About Motivation

Back in the early years of my business I was struggling.

Not from a lack of direction, workload or help either. It was all there in abundance. I had a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve. And I had clear goals for my team as well.

But, no matter what I did, these goals were frustratingly not being met by my team.

And according to a recent survey I did, 77% of the respondents are feeling exactly how I did. They’re struggling with the same obstacle. Their teams not taking ownership in their jobs.

They’re trapped feeling like they need to micromanage their staff to get anything done.

This feeling had caused me a great deal of stress over the years, even before I’d started out in my own business. Despite several leadership courses and books I’d digested on the topic.

It was when I was faced with unhappy clients that were about to leave, that I knew I had to do something different. I needed to learn how to motivate my team.

That started me looking to the great thought leaders on the topic of management and leadership. The first few were Michael Gerber and his book The E-Myth, and Dan Pink’s talk on Motivation.

In this post I’m going to share the two key lessons I learned that have been the cornerstone of my own transformation as a manager and leader.

1. Successful Leaders Don’t Micromanage

This was the first realization that transformed how I motivated my team.

In Michael Gerber’s book, which I read several times as I stood face-to-face with the prospect of losing my business, he made a clear distinction that revolutionized how I led my team.

I could no longer be a micromanager for the results my staff were meant to be achieving.

I needed to delegate the business’ workload and know – with confidence – that the work was going to be done. Correctly. Without me having to step in and fix it every single time.

Otherwise there’d be no point in me delegating. And there would be no weight taken off my shoulders. I’d still be working a job, instead of running a business.

Image source: AZ Quotes

So, how did Michael Gerber suggest making this transformation?

By setting staff goals to achieve, rather than tasks to simply do. And as simple as that sounds, it utterly transforms the view of a job that someone has been given.

When implemented, it gives your staff a sense of autonomy and purpose. Rather than simply doing what they’re told and shutting up.

You’re allowing your staff to feel as though they’re achieving something more than just work (because they are). You’re giving them the space to develop and be integral to your business.

Which is crucial, to get people to enjoy and take pride in their work.

Give it a try for yourself. Even if it’s on a small-scale. Tell those that you need the results from the desired outcome, not the process.

At the end of the day, if you’re struggling with this – you’ve got little to lose and a lot to gain.

2. The ‘Carrot-and-Stick’ Method Doesn’t Work

Dan Pink’s talk on motivation really sparked something in me.

If you haven’t already watched it, I highly recommend you spend the 18 minutes and digest what he’s saying. Because it transforms the way businesses should be run.

To oversimplify: the punishment and reward system doesn’t work any more.

In certain areas of accounting, computer programming and manual labor with strict guidelines – it works. However, in the real-world, where the boundaries are more loosely defined, it doesn’t.

And the reason Dan gives us for this no longer working is simple. Rewards narrow our focus. They tunnel us into achieving that one specific thing for the reward, and nothing else.

It sounds great, in theory. But nowadays, that’s not how business works, is it?

There isn’t one specific thing that needs to be done for the reward.

There’s many steps that need to be taken. There’s a lot of creative thought and solutions required to excel in modern business.

Image source: Derek Huether.

So, when you motivate your staff with this carrot-or-stick mentality, you’re stifling their creative thought. You’re making them focus on that one single solution and nothing more.

You’re left with zombie-like staff walking into work and doing their ‘thing’ and leaving.

You don’t have people that care about the future of your business. You don’t have people coming up with ways to improve business. You don’t have allies in making your business a success.

But, as Dan says, science has a solution. With similar principles to that of Gerber’s solution.

You build jobs around 3 core foundations: autonomy, mastery and purpose. You give your staff the ability to take things into their own hands, improve what they do and give them a set purpose to direct these principles towards (as well as a sense of purpose at their job).

Image source: Pinterest.

Many successful businesses are implementing this school of thought now.

But to take one of the biggest examples: Google. They give their staff 20% free time. Meaning 20% of their working time, they can work on whatever they want (autonomy).

You know what happened?

Over half of Google’s new products are birthed in this free time. Employee satisfaction is through the roof. Their turnover is growing at a dramatic rate.

And they’re dominating the industry.

Closing Words

Now, we can’t attribute this all to this new methodology. But if they’re willing to implement it. With their levels of success over the years… It’s probably something to learn from, right?

And with that, we conclude the second and final lesson of motivating your team. Hopefully, armed with what you’ve learnt here, you can now go and get your team in harmony.

Working alongside you, to achieve the results all of you can stand to benefit from.

But, if you’re stuck – I have a course coming out that aims to help you achieve exactly that. Incorporating lessons I’ve outlined here and many more.

You can learn more at the Build Your Dream Team course information page.

And if you have any questions (about the course or what’s written here), please feel free to direct them at me in the best way for you. I’d be happy to help you develop your dream team!

About the author:

Vicki Suiter helps people see their businesses differently, then gives them the tools to do things differently. Since beginning her business in 1990, Vicki has helped hundreds of companies achieve the kind of success they never dreamed possible. Today, in addition to consulting, Vicki is an in-demand speaker at industry conferences nationally and internationally, where her presentations are consistently ranked among their most popular. Vicki’s articles and opinions have been widely shared in print and across the web. She is also the author of forthcoming book “The Profit Bleed” How managing margin can save your contracting business.