People honestly believe they have the ability to motivate others. That’s always sounded pretentious to me. But, successful training firms have thrived on this belief and have sold training to many employers to teach their supervisors the motivational techniques that employers think their supervisors need to succeed. Employers have also spent hundreds of thousands of training dollars on this notion but, ironically, aren’t these training firms actually inspiring employers to spend by using their fears of supervisory failure to motivate them into action?
Humans are motivated in two ways, extrinsically and intrinsically. For example, paychecks are a great extrinsic method to “motivate” employees to come to work but even paychecks don’t always get people to work nor do they work for every other behavior desired by the employer! Employers have been notorious over the years for using money as an extrinsic way to inspire employees. But, truth-be-told, money can only go so far to inspire people who want things like time with their families, recognition for their contributions in the workplace, professional growth, and the like.
How can anyone honestly believe they’re able to teach people to motivate others? Motivation is more about learning what inspires our own selves. Intrinsic motivation comes from within and is often quite different for each of us.
Intrinsic methods require one to accept that humans are internally driven by their needs, wants and desires. For those who understand this, you will also agree that motivation comes from within each employee and that it’s really up to the supervisor to create opportunities that inspire employees to discover aspects of their work that satisfy their own intrinsic needs, wants and desires. And, that means that employees motivate themselves.
Being an effective supervisor takes a lot of hard work! Many people mistakenly believe they are responsible for motivating employees, organizations, or any group of people with whom they work. In actuality, what they have actually done is figured out what inspires the people they hope to engage, and then they use their positions to create the opportunities that will best offer them a chance to trigger the desired behaviors they seek. If those opportunities inspire employees to act, it’s because they see that they can satisfy their intrinsic needs, wants, or desires by taking such actions.
One must be intrinsically motivated to be a good supervisor. Otherwise, the extrinsic reasons for pursuing this role will not return value to the employer. A leadership motivation assessment can help people find out if they have the natural skills or the ability to learn what it takes to be good. Wouldn’t you agree that good supervisors actually “inspire” employees to act rather than “motivate” them to perform?