Motivation – The First Principles A Manager Should Never Forget

Being a poor motivator is something no manager will admit to, so why is it when we survey participants on our training courses the poor quality of their managers motivation techniques is always in the top three of ‘my manger’s weaknesses’’?

What is also interesting, most experienced managers say they know about some theory around motivation, but what seems to be lacking is any practical application (assuming the basic understanding has been achieved).

Below we have pulled together what we consider to be the key principles that a manager needs to really understand and be able to apply in their interactions if they want to win the label of being a good motivator.

  • Motivation is achieved by the promise of satisfaction of individual Needs, Wants and Desires (NWD).
  • Everybody is motivated differently (because of their unique NWD profile).
  • Each persons’ NWD is made up of a unique blend of Intrinsic motivators (things that satisfy an internal requirement like job satisfaction) and Extrinsic motivators (things that satisfy an external requirement like having a big boat). These two types of motivation can act on each other in dynamic ways. A large Extrinsic reward can displace an Intrinsic motivation.
  • Each individual will demonstrate different levels of drive depending on their NWD profile.
  • To be a motivator it must relate to the acquiring of something in the future.
  • To motivate someone you must first remove any causes of demotivation. If someone is frustrated and angry with the poor work tools they have they are not going to be motivated to take part in winning a top prize in any incentive scheme.
  • Removing the causes of demotivation does not motivate someone. When you have achieved an unmotivated state, a person becomes suggestible to being motivated.
  • When someone’s NWD is satisfied their motivation will decrease.
  • Money itself is rarely a motivator, think of it as mechanism for satisfying a person’s particular NWD. Someone with a highly aspirational or expensive lifestyle will be more money motivated than someone who has enough money to meet all their present and future lifestyle requirements.
  • There is a level beyond which any further motivation won’t work.

You will notice a key underlying requirement. Knowledge and empathy of, and for, the people you are looking to motivate. The key to effective motivation is about understanding a person’s NWD profile. Without this you will see ‘one size fits all’ motivation attempts and money being used in very clunky (and expensive) ways. What is the key attribute of manager’s who can do that? – a high level of self awareness and insight into their own NWD. You cannot sensibly and sustainably motivate others if you don’t understand what motivates yourself.