Managers As Motivators
Motivation is a complex issue. What we see is mostly driven by what we don’t see. Freud likened the personality to an iceberg. What we see is the above-the-surface behavior. The really interesting stuff happens beneath the surface. To influence someone’s behavior, it’s important to know what’s going on inside the person.
Managers, as motivators, deal with above-the-surface behavior and beneath-the-surface motivation. Above-the-surface behavior includes: selling technique, time management habits, and people skills. It’s the what people do.
Beneath-the-surface motivation is the why behind the what. Attitudes, beliefs, and values are these beneath-the-surface issues that drive behavior.
At the very core of motivated behavior are values. Managers often confuse motivation with values. This is especially true when you say things like, “They ought to or should be motivated by this.” You’re projecting your values on the employees. Everyone is motivated — they’re just motivated by what they value. We behave as we believe. Understanding this and accepting it helps you become a more powerful motivator.
Effective managers shape environments so that an employee’s internal motivation to succeed takes over. These questions help focus your efforts:
Do I have the right person in this job?
How many times as a manager have you tried to put a square peg in a round hole? It doesn’t work. Everyone brings strengths, skills, and attitudes to a job. That’s the given. The challenge is to match the person to the task or vice versa. You can have very good people in the wrong job and that benefits no one, not you and certainly not the employee.
Can this person do the job?
Intellectual ability and previous job experiences may tell you something about their raw ability to do the job. In-depth interviews and pre-employment screening gives you objective data to work with. Training helps you fill the knowledge gap once you’re convinced the individual can do the job. Knowledge builds confidence, and confidence begets competence.
How do I motivate this person?
You’ve identified the skills needed for success in the job. You’ve provided training for proper execution of the job. Now, you’re scratching your head for answers on how to keep this person excited about doing the job. This is where understanding motivation coupled with your ability to identify an employee’s motivational profile comes into play.
What does this person value?
Since values fuel attitudes and attitudes drive behavior, understanding this aspect about your employees will help you shape your management approach. Determining these values is at times difficult. Paying close attention to what they say, how they spend off-time, and how they talk about life are a few ways to determine this. Testing is another. It provides you objective, in-depth insight into this person’s motivation. Why they do what they do when they do it.
As a manager, the more you know the more you grow. As a leader, the more you know the more you help others grow.