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I have heard this many times from managers: “How do I motivate people to get them to do the things I want them to do?”

The answer is: “You don’t!”

It is hard to motivate people because they already are motivated. What we can do is determine what motivates them and use this knowledge to channel their energy toward your organization’s goals.

Some people are like water in a faucet. They have the motivation; all you have to provide is the opportunity. The water is already motivated to flow, but it doesn’t have the opportunity until you open the tap. Others are like mountain streams, which flow swiftly but follow their own channels. People, too, may move energetically, but toward their own goals. We should make it worth their while to channel their motivation toward the results management is seeking.

Also Read: How to Inspire Your Employees with a Vision?

What Motivates People?

To better understand motivation, it’s important to find out what moves a person. What gives a person a reason to take action or behave in a certain way?

From an empirical perspective, having worked with, coached or trained thousands of professionals and managers, I observe two main items or reasons that make an employee satisfied and motivated.

Motivator #1

An employee wants to feel respected, valued, appreciated and recognized. To that point, I love the quote by philosopher Williams James: “The deepest need in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” People have a deep-seated need for feeling important. The best way to get people to pay attention to you is to pay attention to them. That means listening to others, not just hearing them. Listening is active; hearing is passive. Listening is a way to pay attention and respect to a person. If you listen to individuals long enough, they’ll tell you what their concerns and problems are. It’s amazing what you’ll learn.

Motivator #2.

Employees (most of them) love interesting, challenging work or increasing responsibility. Many people I have come across want to do well; they want opportunities for growth and achievement. The challenge about those factors is that they differ for each person. A challenging task or project is totally different for a salesperson, engineer or accountant. The manager’s role is to determine which task is interesting to which person so this person feels a sense of pride or achievement.

Empathy and seeing things from the other person’s point of view is an essential skill for managers to have and develop in order to increase motivation in others.

How Do You Get People to Change?

What we can change – or influence: a person’s behavior, but not their personality. To do that, we must understand them and connect with them. That requires more than training. It requires education. When you train people, you just try to teach them a task; when you educate people, you deal with them at a deeper level relative to behavior, feelings and beliefs. The word education comes from the Latin word educo, which means to change from within.

In behavior change, differentiating motives or intentions from behavior itself is crucial. We all tend to judge ourselves by our motives and intentions; yet we have a tendency to judge others by their actions.

Put another way, we’re inclined to excuse behavior in ourselves that we find unacceptable in others. When our employees are late for work, it’s because they’re irresponsible and have no interest in their jobs. When we’re late for work, it’s because we were attending to necessary details that had to be taken care of. When team members engage in undesirable behavior, we shouldn’t try to assess motives or change them. Just deal with the behavior. We can’t change the motives of our employees, but through positive or negative reinforcement, you can affect their actions.

Remember, people do things for their reasons, not mine nor yours.

Have a motivating day!