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Motivation: An Inside Job

Motivation is often viewed as the great unseen hand of management creeping into a room to propel employees, especially salespeople to greater heights and bigger sales on behalf of the corporate enterprise. But this is becoming a rather outdated way of thinking in the world of modern management. Instead, the experts are now starting to realize that people are motivated from the inside out and not the other way around. The only real motivational techniques that work are ones that people can use to motivate themselves and their colleagues.

The main elements of self-motivation are self-interest which is a combination of a desire to be recognized or to belong and a sense of worth or achievement, and positive energy or enthusiasm that helps propel people towards these goals. These are all internal elements, but the best modern managers know how to help their employees recognize and develop these normal human attributes.

Self-interest is not the same as being selfish but rather an awareness that each of us has needs, wants, and desires that we want to achieve. They may vary from person to person but the basics are that we want to know that our work is useful, valuable, and is contributing to some common good. That might be a share in any profits that accrue from the work or, in the case of not for profit organizations, a sense that the mission of the organization is being accomplished.

Self-interest is a great motivator because it allows an individual to feel that they belong to something greater than themselves while at the same time helping them achieve individual reward, success, or profit. The Japanese figured this system out in the 70ís while most of North America was still trying to get its workers to perform better using a carrot and stick approach. They organized giant pep rallies at the beginning of the work day so that everyone in the company could see that there were bigger goals that they were all a part of achieving.

But the Japanese got a little stuck by over-emphasizing the security of the workers over their individual needs to be acknowledged and rewarded. Thatís where the tech companies of the 90ís got it right. They took the team concept and adapted it through pizza lunches and keg parties and then added individual cappuccino machines and an unimaginable range of fringe and health benefits. This let people know they were valuable cogs in the wheel but stroked them enough with health club memberships to recognize their individuality and self-interest.

Still, nothing beats enthusiasm for achieving success at the workplace and managers who can instill this factor into their employees and maintain it over sustained periods of time will always have an advantage. The good thing is that you donít have to motivate all of your staff to become enthusiastic; you just need a few to become catalysts to release this energy into the organization.

Did you ever wonder why enthusiastic people always seem to get chosen as game show contestants? Thatís because they have great, positive energy that game show hosts and advertisers like to see. They want excited, animated contestants who are actually going to let their enthusiasm show. And itís contagious, for the studio audience and even for the rest of us who are shyly cheering them on at home.

Successful managers are continually looking for new ways to generate this enthusiasm in their staff groups. They also continue to look for ways to be enthusiastic themselves so that they can motivate their workforce to live up to their individual greatness and potential. Even if you donít have a natural enthusiastic personality you can still bring that extra oomph to your working life through a few simple actions.

First, change your thinking and then do something positive. Dale Carnegie, the master American motivator, once said, ďAct enthusiastic and you will be enthusiastic.Ē Sometimes it just takes one person to stand and applaud to create a room full of standing and cheering supporters. Even if you are shy and self-conscious you can still be enthusiastic. If you donít want to be the only person standing up in applause, then wait for someone else to stand and be the second. Itís still showing your enthusiasm.

The more that people are enthusiastic and self-motivated the easier it will be to actually manage them to greater individual and organizational success. The challenge for the modern manager is inspiring their employees to get to that level and modeling behaviours that will encourage them to follow your lead.


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