Academic journal article College and University

Motivation-On the Ground

Academic journal article College and University

Motivation-On the Ground

Article excerpt

"Motivation-On the Ground" is more practical, applied and "how to" than theoretical discussion. In this article, we consider actions you can take right now to help get your people fired up and moving along a successful project completion trajectory. Recall that we are primarily about work, not thinking about and planning work. We need to motivate our people to accomplish objectives and complete projects using the tools we have described in our previous articles. Motivation requires spirit and fire and a love of people. When done properly, it is a gateway to good work.

Motivation can be a difficult and finicky practice; it is often talked about at seminars, but rarely is it executed well. As with management and leadership, there is no shortage of literature, discussion, or opinion about motivation. It is everywhere: Google "motivational quotes" and you will have a quote to read every day for the next decade. Zig Ziglar said that motivation, like bathing, should be done regularly. We suggest that it should be a daily point of focus as it tends to be a highly temporal asset. Employees need to know that they are appreciated every day (or so) of the week. It is also worth noting that motivation can be even more fleeting unless some permanent changes results. As humans, we find it quite difficult to change permanently; very few managers know how to effect permanent change via motivation; and we all find it difficult to self-motivate day in and day out, year in and year out.

That said, motivation can open peoples minds and hearts to permanent change and spur them to action. Keep this in mind as you manage by walking around: Not only should you encourage and cajole, but you also should use these interactions to teach, to imprint a positive attitude in your people, and to instill in them a desire to deliver and accomplish great things. Remove their limits. You should almost always be the one to go and visit your people; always making them come to you stifles their selfworth. You need to see where they work and what their working conditions are like in order to be able to better motivate them. Napoleon and Mother Teresa always worked and ate alongside their people.

A note of caution: Be careful not to pile on the work and expect to accomplish it purely through motivation. You must clear a place for the new in order to affect sustainability. Effective motivation requires prioritization of work. So dig a bit, get organized, get prioritized, and then help motivate your staff to do the important work every day. We all need to be motivated at some time or another. And as managers, we need to make clear that a good attitude is simply the beginning of greatness, not greatness itself.

What follow are our "first ten" motivational practices. Why not our top ten? Because we do not pretend to know the thousands of things that might motivate your staff. Human beings are complex, and there is no one size fits all. Nevertheless, our "first ten" list is a good place to start. Do these, and attitudes will improve, the machine will hum, and you increase your chances for promotion. This is hard to undertake every day, thus takes considerable practice and energy.

The "first ten":

* Sit with people. Do not look at your watch. Turn off your phone! Time is of the essence. "In Time" is a Sei Fi movie about time as currency (very well done actually in our opinions.) The film provides a nice example about just how precious our time is, particularly as we get in situations in which there is less of it. You should give it a look... Time also has been likened to a roll of toilet paper: The closer you get to the finish, the faster it swings around. Spend quality time with your people. Remove distractions and do not look at your watch. During our work days, the only time we ever schedule back-to-back meetings is when we need an excuse to get out the door because we think something is unproductive. Instead, we budget time for a meeting and then add a little time-an extra half hour or so-to review the one and to prepare for the next. …

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