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Stop trying to motivate your people. Instead ask this one simple question.

by Tony Boatman, on Nov 19, 2018 6:33:42 AM

Last week I spoke to an audience of Health Care professionals in Singapore on the topic of ‘What Motivates me’. The inspiration for the topic came from my good friend Chester Elton and the book he and his co-author Adrian Gostick had written a few years back titled What Motivates Me, Putting your passions to work.

The objective of the session was to correlate an understanding of individual motivators as a conduit to delivering a better patient experience. The SingHealth Leadership rightfully believe that great patient experience is one of the outcomes of a better employee experience. Seems logical.

So I spoke for around 40 minutes, which is about 30 minutes beyond my personal attention span. The audience seemed to be engaged, perhaps because we were able to confirm early on that I was the only person in the auditorium to have milked a cow before school! That was my before-school job on the farm from the age of 11-17.

I shared my journey from rural faming community in Australia to senior marketing roles with two of the worlds largest tech companies, Nokia and Microsoft. Then in later life becoming an entrepreneur. It was not meant to be a motivational speech. I have not climbed Mount Everest, overcome extreme poverty or flown the Space Shuttle, as one of the earlier speakers had! 

I believe authenticity counts in a world where every one with a Twitter account can make claim to being a ‘thought-leader’. As I state on Twitter, I have thoughts, but make no claim to thought leadership!

Back to the speech. The majority of the audience were managers of people. So when asked to provide some key ‘takeaways’ for me this was simple. I had a list of four and right at the top was one simple truth I have discovered through the business of ‘doing’, managing teams.

Stop trying to motivate your people. Ditch the team building sessions, drunken Karaoke parties and Motivational speakers. Replace all with this one simple question: 

What motivates you? What truly excites you?

Now, if someone says drunken Karaoke parties, fare enough! But the mere act of inquiring is the main point here.

As a manger the best thing you can do is help your people work in alignment with the things that instinctively motivate. As Gostick and Elton point out, this does not require quitting your job to become a Yoga instructor! Instead, they recommend small ‘course corrections’. We can all find joy in what we do if we stop trying to motivate and instead understand what motivates.

Gostick and Elton have designed a brilliant tool, to help you discover your individual ‘motivators’. I highly recommend taking the assessment. For the record, here are my top 7 ‘motivators’.

1. Family

2. Social Responsibility

3. Impact

4. Creativity

5. Excitement

6. Autonomy

7. Variety

I would be happy to speak to your team and share my 'thoughts' on Motivation. You can book me to speak here.