Inspiring And Enabling People
To Make A Difference
My favourite definition of Motivation is that it is the “motive for action”. So, when we seek to motivate our teams or our colleagues we should be thinking constantly “what’s in it for them?” This is particularly true if we are seeking to motivate people over whom we have little or no formal authority.
Strategic Professionals today must work closely with more people than ever before. In this article, I’ll explain how you can help others develop commitment and motivation by utilising the Theory of Expectancy created by Victor Vroom, the Canadian Psychology Professor who teaches at the Yale School of Management.
To get commitment from others, you must first understand what people want to get out of their work and their association with you. So, let’s talk about the Expectancy Theory. Victor Vroom first discussed this theory in his 1964 book, “Work and Motivation” and it is still referenced and used today because it is simple and practical and, more importantly, it works! The Expectancy Theory is the universal key to what motivates people to be productive. It explains that people, given choices, choose the option that promises to give them the greatest reward. So, to find people to do a particular job, all we have to do is find out what motivates them best. Sounds easy, but sometimes it is more difficult in practice. The following are six simple steps to achieving greater motivation based on the Expectancy Theory:
1. Tell people what you expect them to do on a regular basis. Be as specific as possible, share your goals, and explain the standards of performance you expect.
2. Make the work valuable. When possible, assign work that they like to do. Give them work they can do well—work that helps them achieve their goals.
3. Make the work achievable! This helps increase confidence that they can do what you expect. Give them training, coaching, and really listen to what they say when they tell you what they need. You must also provide the resources they need to do the work.
4. Assign tasks that will stretch their capability, most of the time. People neglect to delegate difficult tasks because they fear that it will be beyond the capabilities of the person being delegated to. However, by giving people challenges that stretch them leads to growth of the individual and often new and improved approaches to the work.
5. Provide feedback. Remember to let them know how they are doing. Positive feedback means they should continue what they are doing. Negative feedback, of course, means they should correct mistakes. You may have to help them discover their mistakes before they can fix them.
6. Reward successful performance. Remember that rewards can be different for each person because after all we are all unique individuals. Rewards can be money, recognition, a heartfelt thank you, more responsibility, or even some kind of award or certificate.
A Further Note on Motivating Peers
You may have heard it said that you can’t motivate anyone else, that motivation comes from within. I agree with that, but I also firmly believe you can inspire someone to do better. So, being enthusiastic is like the icing on the cake when it comes to motivating others. To utilise a well-known phrase, “Motivating others is 95% perspiration and 5% inspiration.”
Motivating your peers, more than any other group, will draw on your powers of inspiration significantly. The key is to switch your focus from “selling” them on your ideas to stirring their emotions. What excites them as individuals? Think about their learning and behavioural styles and build empathy. Then, with all of this intelligence planted firmly in your subconscious, communicate your passion for the project or task at hand. To return to the cake analogy, we now have layers of challenge, clarity, space to succeed and personal benefits topped with an icing of pure passion – who could resist that sort of motivation?