Internal Combustion – How to Keep Employees and Associates Motivated

Today begins a new series, one prompted by two things. First, how to keep employees and associates motivated is a question I am often asked. Second, I’ve been working with a company in the recent past where the use of practical techniques to motivate the workforce radically turned around the company in a short period of time. So, it is fresh on my mind.

But even that description implies something that is a bit misleading. Let me explain

The motivational seminar business has pretty much run its course. There are pockets left but most everyone has discovered that motivation is not something that can be transplanted. Motivation, like a fire, needs certain components to thrive.

In an internal combustion engine, there must be fuel, a container (like the cylinder), a spark, and timing. All must meet at precisely the right time…and continue to function in sync…if movement is to occur.

Motivation should be defined in our setting.  I explain it as

“a desire within someone to do the right things at the right time with the intent of producing the right result.”

But I want to really emphasize that motivation and motivational skills are not applied as much as they are gathered and made to be integral components of the work environment.  They are not one and done tasks (too gimmicky) nor is it the result of one, two or three things done at one time or another (too haphazard).

An atmosphere of motivation is far more effective than anything gimmicky and far, far more enduring.

How you motivate, the things you do to motivate others, and the expectations you have about those things you do definitively reveal your values and those of your company or organization. What you believe about others will absolutely be seen in what you do, when you do it, and how you carry it out.

So, let’s settle it now. Motivation is not merely something you do. It originates from the core of your character and is a manifestation of your value system. It is almost certain that we’ve all been subjected to clumsy attempts by bosses to appear motivational. Here is just a few of the things covered in this series:

  • I’ll detail some of the clumsy attempts and what should have been done instead.
  • I will also explain the things you can do to create and sustain an atmosphere of growth, inspiration, and motivation.
  • I’ll also explore some mistakes commonly made and how small changes can make huge differences.
  • I’ll talk about the four levels of development in subordinates and associates and what effective motivational leaders have to do at each level.
  • Finally, I’ll explore some simple techniques for building a fire in others and keeping it burning.

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