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The Secret Of Motivation

by Miki Saxon

great-motivationHow do you lead/influence/motivate/cajole/force others to move in the direction you choose or achieve a necessary goal, large or small?

That question is the basis for yards of books and megabytes of content, but in spite of all that I thought I’d add my 2 bits to the total.

My 2 bits is found in 2 words: vested self-interest (VSI).

Over the years, I’ve found vested self-interest to be not only the most powerful people motivator around, but also one of the least expensive, since the cost is mainly from the effort to learn what it is for each person.

Contrary to what a lot of people think money isn’t always in first place. If it were, then companies wouldn’t lose talent to other companies offering the same or even lower pay.

Just as it’s an error to always assume that dollars will do it, you can’t assume that what turns on one turns on all. Hot buttons are as individual as your people are and don’t always involve tangibles.

As a manager, it’s up to you to discover each of your people’s hot buttons, i.e., what really turns them on, and then find a way to satisfy it in return for what you want in performance, innovation, etc.

Taking the time to learn what the buttons are allows you to power your team as never before, which, in turn, gives you the ability to satisfy your own.

Remembering that generalities are always dangerous, here are some of the most common hot buttons

  • public recognition – not just for big things, but for the small—it is the everyday wins that power most people’s working lives;
  • strokes – a few words here, a compliment there, doesn’t take much time, but be warned, people aren’t stupid, if your comments are lip-service only they will know and respond accordingly;
  • giving back – supported or encouraged volunteer programs, leave day banks, etc.;
  • making a difference – internally and/or externally; and
  • growing/stretching – the opportunity to do something new, learn new skills, etc.

Obviously, money is still a motivator, but it’s not always big bucks, it’s more that the amount is relevant to the accomplishment and logical relative to the company’s circumstances.

And it doesn’t need to be “new” money; it can be a different way to cut a current pie. For example, I get many queries from senior execs asking for exotic approaches and detailed how-to’s for implementing cultural and other intangible changes that often require encouraging (and at times, coercing) their managerial staff into actually doing them.

The most successful method I’ve found is as simple as one, two, three.

  1. Carefully define, in a quantifiable manner, what you want done (not “increase retention,” but “reduce turnover by X%”).
  2. Include these well-quantified goals in the managers’ annual objectives. (This is not a variation of MBO.)
  3. Make it clear to your managers that they will be evaluated on these goals and that the evaluation will impact their annual reviews and compensation.

Vested self-interest will do the rest.

Please join me Thursday to see VSI in action.

Image credit: steve heath on flickr

One Response to “The Secret Of Motivation”
  1. Inflexion Point » Blog Archive » The December Leadership Development Carnival Says:

    […] Miki Saxon of MAPping Company Success shares The Secret of Motivation. […]

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