Why you can’t motivate your employees

Wait, what!?  Yes you read it correctly.  Motivational actions from employers in the workplace is not as effective as we may think.  This reality crashed down on me like a ton of bricks and looking back to many years of employee management, I wish I knew this.

We are exposed to many amazing therapists and many amazing business owners- each with a lot to offer and a real passion for what they do.  But somehow we all still face the ongoing challenge of staff retention in our industry.  This drove me to analyse and research the topic of motivation and self-drive.  I love watching TED talks and came across an amazing presentation from Kerry Goyette covering this topic. Here is what I learned and it makes so much sense!

Most people are motivated by something, in some way already.  We all get up every day, we all go to work and look after our families.  As working women/mothers/entrepreneurs, we take on each day sometimes because we HAVE to and other times because we WANT to.  So the problem is not whether a person is motivated or not, it’s about finding out what ignites your motivation.  Motivation is a human behavior that needs to constantly be nurtured and fueled.  Some of this is our own responsibility and some of the responsibility lies with the employer.  So what I learned is that the occasional motivational talk or action is not enough to motivate your staff.  You have to identify WHAT fuels a person’s existing motivation.  For some its money, for some time off, for others its reaching sales targets or getting amazing results with their clients.  The motivation is already there, you just need to figure out how to fuel it.

Motivation is also not always positive – it can be negative and destructive.  Examples are actors like Charlie Sheen or artists like Britney Spears.  They are great at what they do but when they channel the energy in the wrong direction it becomes destructive.  This often happens in our businesses and it’s challenging to deal with.  Always remember that all human beings are wired to connect with other people and desire a sense of belonging.  Our brains do not function to full capacity if we are not part of a group.  Even for introverts – they may just need it on a smaller scale than an extrovert.  The working environment has to provide that for all employees.

A lack of performance is not necessarily a lack of motivation.  Most of the time motivation is never there when you really need it!  Motivation makes you action the tasks you know you need to do.  It’s called idea to action and your brain is wired to always stop you from doing anything that potentially may hurt you. This hesitation and fear of the unknown often holds people back and prevent them from growing and pushing their own limits.  This is normal human behavior – so employers are not always at fault when there is a lack of motivation with employees.

So how do we force ourselves to do what we know we are supposed to do?  The secret is to act quickly – within 5 seconds actually.  If you hesitate to make a decision for longer than 5 seconds, you are very likely to change your mind.  So next time you are lying in bed wondering whether to go for that run or not- don’t think about it for longer than 5 seconds!  Mel robins explains that our brains are wired to resist challenge and changed, and all it takes it counting backward from 5 to reset normal thought patters. You can watch her video on the subject here

The message is stop being so hard on yourself.  Understand that the reason people often act a certain way is because our minds are trained that way.  We have to challenge ourselves to change our habits of always taking the safe and familiar route and grow from that.

We have to figure out what it is that fuels our employee’s motivation and we need treat them accordingly on a daily basis.  Fuel the fire and provide an environment where employees feel they belong.

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