Motivating People

Every time I talk to leadership the question of motivation comes up. It seems to be a constant challenge to keep the environment motivated. Recently, I had a manager put it this way, “I get so tired trying to keep these people up. It seems like each time something good happens, something else goes wrong. I don’t understand it, they choose to remember the bad and forget the good. I just don’t understand it.”

Human behavior is an interesting thing to study. It seems that no matter how much good is happening in a person’s life, the majority tend to remember the bad that has happened. What one takes from yesterday, creates the emotional pictures they use to define today.

Have you ever had a negative person around your life? When I ask that question, do names come to your mind; do faces appear in your brain? Negative people have a way of playing with our emotional presence. What many fail to understand is that “negative” is a planned behavior. I learned a long time ago all behavior has an agenda. People who are negative have developed that behavior to achieve their plan. For many it is a guaranteed way of getting attention. They discovered at an early age if you are good, no one pays attention to you. BUT, if you are bad, you get all the attention in the world. So, at an early age they started practicing their negative behavior; it got them the attention they wanted, so they just continued it through their life.

Since most get frustrated with negative people and won’t confront their behavior, each time they are negative and no one confronts them, their behavior gets validated.

Think about this! Have you ever had a negative person whose presence really got to you? Now, did you sit down and talk to them OR did you get so frustrated, you just kept your mouth shut and worked as hard as you could to avoid them? Which option did you choose? 99% of people choose to keep their mouth shut and just work to avoid having to face them.

What they fail to understand is by not confronting them, you are empowering them. Every time a negative person can step up their presence through their behavior, the presence of leadership is diminished.

It is critical leadership understands that there is always a leader. It is either the person who has been given the responsibility or one whose presence has become stronger than that of the leader.

The central message is all environments have a leader. That leader establishes the direction of the environment, the energy of the environment, and the spirit of the environment. So, if the one who is leading is negative, what do they do to the direction, the energy and the spirit of the environment? You know that answer, don’t you.

Here is a fact worth learning! You can’t motivate another person. That’s right; you hear me correctly. You can’t motivate another person. Motivation is personal. Motivation is an individual responsibility. The responsibility of leadership is not to motivate people; the responsibility of leadership is to design an environment that is filled with and directed by positive energy. The role of leadership is to keep the environment free of the negative and focus on the positive things that are happening and need to happen to keep the environment healthy and moving forward with productive energy.

So, what can leadership do to keep the company environment filled with and directed by positive energy, to create an environment that MOTIVATES?

Make each day a celebration of something good.

I am a big believer in throwing positive emotional parties. I believe in starting the day by reviewing something good that has happened. I am a big believer in doing walkabouts where the leader pauses and praises people for the good things they are doing.

Open the environment for discussion. 

Make sure each person knows they can discuss all issues with you. The power here is the creation of communication between the people and leadership. This keeps the cliques from forming.

Tackle all issues that can hamper the positive energy. 

You must always deal with issues while they are concerns. As long as an issue is a concern, people will listen. If the issue escalates to a problem, there will not be communication. A concern allows the mind to guide the interaction. A problem is driven by all the emotions that have built up about the issue. Whatever you do, address any issue that can bring a negative picture to the environment.

Invest in training people. 

Too many don’t seem to see the need for continual training.  As the leader, you must understand the critical areas of customer contact and continue to strengthen your presence through training. Training is an investment in keeping the environment filled with positive presence that the customer can feel when they walk in.

Visit the mission of the company daily.

Many don’t seem to understand the need to have a company meeting in the morning. Now, you don’t have it when they first arrive. Give them 30 minutes to get settled in and then bring everyone together for 10-15 minutes. Here, you go over the agenda of the day; here, you get everyone focused on what they need to achieve that day; here, you establish the energy for the day. And always close with a reminder of why you are in business. Don’t assume they share the same customer concern you share.

Adapt the environment. 

For any company to stay with positive energy, they must constantly be seeking ways to improve what they are doing. People must know that nothing is set in stone; that all things are open for discussion and if a better way is found, things will be adapted. Remember, sameness feeds the negative people; improving challenges your quality people.

The pace must be manageable. 

This is critical to designing and maintaining a positive environment. When things are moving faster than they can be managed, the environment becomes filled with confusion. Confusion sucks the positive energy out of the people. Study it! Any day that things can’t be managed, the entire company becomes frustrated and reactive. This drags your quality people down and gives your negative people something to complain about.

Eliminate the negate soothsayers.  

Those who want to pull the environment down, must be confronted. Those who don’t want to help you create a healthy environment must either change their behavior or pack their things and move on. It really is just that simple.

Remember, you can’t motivate another person, but you can design and maintain an environment filled with positive energy.

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