Many leaders struggle with finding ways to motivate people to higher level performance.
I have already written that you cannot motivate another person. So, let's set aside the idea that the leader provides the motivation and move on to the idea that a leader can learn to identify the things that do motivate the people on his or her team.
In previous posts, I wrote about Three Clues You Can Use to Find What Motivates Another Person and A Simple Model for Understanding What Drives Behavior. In this post, I'm offering a thought to expand the idea that you can look at a person's hobbies and interests to find clues about what motivates him and then apply that insight as you assign and delegate tasks.
Current motivation research, like the research Daniel Pink shares in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, indicates that excessive reliance on extrinsic motivators — rewards, praise and prizes — can eventually have a negative impact on overall motivation.
A quick look at the model I shared previously could lead to the conclusion that the consequences referenced in that model refer only to externally applied rewards, prizes, bonuses, recognition, etc.
A deeper look reveals that a consequence is anything a person experiences as a result of her behavior. So, the emotions and personal satisfaction that people experience from their behaviors can be consequences that drive behavior. These emotions fall into the category of intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivators, and it is these emotions that people's hobbies often reveal.
For example, I like woodworking, writing, building websites, working on my house, landscaping, and cooking. These activities show that part of what motivates me is analyzing and solving problems. When I do things that give me that opportunity, the work itself becomes a motivator because it gives me the emotional satisfaction of analyzing and solving a problem.
These hobbies also reveal that I tend to like working alone. I can (and do) call on customers and socialize with people. However, these activities are work to me.
My hobbies are play to me.
Work tires and play energizes.
A wise leader hoping to “motivate” me to higher performance would, as much as possible within the confines of the business need, give me assignments that maximized my ability to analyze and solve problems.
As you look for what motivates your team members, remember to look at their hobbies and interests for clues you can use to work with them in a way that taps their intrinsic motivation as much as possible.
Side note – Parents can use this idea with their children as well. What activities energize your kids and which ones drain them?
This article is from the Motivation series. Use the links below to read more from this series.
- The 5 Be's of Motivation
- The Positive Runs Out
- A Simple Model for Understanding What Drives Behavior
- You Cannot Punish People into Good Behavior
- Three Clues You Can Use to Find What Motivates Another Person
- Employee Motivation Tips: Their Personal Life
- Employee Motivation Tips: Their DISC Behavior Style