Monday, June 16, 2014

Motivation, You're Doing it Wrong

Have you seen the demotivational posters?  I love them.  I had one in my office once that fit Southern Baptists.  I have posted it below, and trust me, it's pretty accurate.
There, you get the point, right?

These posters are funny, but it seems that sometimes they have better motivation than many leaders.  In church work and in the market place, there are many leaders who lack this most basic of leadership.  Motivation.  They have taken the cue from Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi.  They are looking for "new ways to motivate them" by using the Dark Side of the force.  Ladies and Gentlemen, force choke is not an effective motivation long term.

Many leaders make some basic assumptions about motivation that are wrong, wrong, wrong.  We tend to think what motivates us also motivates others.  If you are highly competitive, you may use competition as a motivation.  I am not highly competitive, so it doesn't work on me.  There is the popular motivator of telling someone they are inferior or they are failing.  That works on some people, and leaves others feeling defeated.  The reality is, if you tell someone they stink, eventually they will stink.  Most people don't get motivated by spite.  The reality is that insults only work on spiteful people.  If you are motivated by insults, time to check your heart.

Threats, fear and guilt seem like a good idea and they work for a while.  The problem is they are short term motivators, and they only work until the guilt of fear wears off.  They don't motivate long term.  Threats are even worse, because you have to make good on them.  I don't threaten well, I usually call the person out and say "ok, let's do this".  You will motivate me to do the wrong thing with anger, which is also a poor motivator.

So, in review, fear, anger, guilt, insults and put downs are bad motivators.  Don't use them.  Don't threaten to fire, don't tell people they stink and don't tell them they are bad at their job or task.  It doesn't help.  If someone is struggling, they need help, and those things are not helping.  There is nothing that makes me more angry and upset than a supervisor, boss or leader that insults, is rude and condescending to those they manage.  If you work under me and you pull that stuff, I will make sure you get serious training on true leadership, people management and motivation.

What does motivate people?  There are some things that work well, and really help people long term.  The first is trust and loyalty.  I would follow Don Brackbill to the ends of the earth because I completely trust him.  I have worked with guys I didn't trust any farther than I could throw them.  Doesn't work well.  If you build trust, relationship and respect with those you lead, they will follow you anywhere.  My current supervisor is good at this, and he is very encouraging.  My buddy told me about a sergeant he served with in the Army, he said if he walked in and handed him a gun and said "let's go to war" he wouldn't bat or eye.  Respect, trust and dependability.

Communication of passion is a great motivator.  When you work in a place and others work for you, they are not as motivated as you are, and you are less motivated than the guy you work for (probably).  The higher in a company you are, the more you want it too succeed.  The reality is, if that is for selfish reasons (you want to look good) you won't motivate anyone.  Pastors who just want a big church, a nice office and a solid resume won't get much response.  If you are passionate, however, you can share that.  If you are passionate about how your company is a great company, how there is benefit and it's a great place and it should succeed, share that.  If you think your job is important, that it's worth investment and energy, tell others.  Get excited and celebrate victories.

Passion has to be given away and others will catch it.  They need to know they are valuable, they have purpose and are important.  If those things happen, they will get excited.  If they believe in what they are doing, they will work hard and long.  If they see through a leader, see that they are selfish, egotistical, shallow and self centered and arrogant, motivation will be very low.  If a leader wants to share passion, share credit and give recognition, is excited and is part of the team and not just above it, motivation will go up.

Remember. moral and motivation are connected.  Connections, relationship, trust and value are all important in motivation.  If you can give people a sense of purpose, a sense of importance in their job or task, they will work hard and be happy.  If you tear them down and destroy their passions, they will be unhappy, unproductive and will often quit.  Don't loose good people to bad motivation.  Motivate, share passion and build trust and your workers will follow you to the ends of the earth.

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