The #1 way to motivate people

Photo courtesy of Flickr user TEDxSomerville

Photo courtesy of Flickr user TEDxSomerville

It is so simple, but so often overlooked by executive management: Explain why an outcome matters.

Of course, your opinion isn’t always going to guarantee commitment from your audience, so before you — as manager or team leader — move forward with directives regarding who’s going to do what and by when, you’ll want to stop and check your oil – which is your team’s ability to buy-in to the project as outlined.

Can you listen as well as you can plan? If you can guarantee to hear concerns without getting defensive (or offensive), privately poll each person potentially involved in the project. On a scale of one to five, how important do they view the project? A score of four or five means they will at least engage with an initiative and try to move it forward. Anything lower means there is a hurdle to their enthusiasm, and until you understand the height and depth of that brick wall, you can’t knock it down or help them over.

Another benefit of a private meeting(s) is that it allows you to consider different points of view and, from that, to consider multiple ways of achieving the same goal. When you hear an objection, ask for a suggestion from the person as to how they imagine the team could get around it or how they could best neutralize a challenge. Bingo — they are planning with you to improve the initiative instead of pushing against the project.

Five reasons employees resist new initiatives:

  1. It doesn’t matter in the long run. The boss’ flavor-of- the-day project is more busywork than it is an initiative. With work already waiting, it’s hard to enthusiastically embrace something that feels like a whim instead of an improvement.

  3. There is no inherent reward demonstrated for the team members who contribute to the project’s success. This means you haven’t tied the company’s overall success to their success in a meaningful way and perhaps it’s time to revisit the organization’s compensation structure.

  5. They cannot decipher a straight line from Point A to Point Z. The project seems too general or muddled, without clear delineation of who should be involved and what the completion date and end result would look like. Either flesh it out or (better yet) enlist their help in committing to clearly defining who, what, where, when and how.

  7. They lack confidence that they will be given the resources needed to see the project through to completion – executive commitment, staff, budget, IT support, product knowledge or time.

  9. They fear the outcome the initiative would bear, whether it’s collateral damage or the targeted change. Would staff lose sales territories, colleagues, or job security? Listening to understand what is in their hearts and minds, and then offering realistic support during and after the change will build trust and help allay fears.

While some people are motivated by change, others need a leader’s encouragement and support to engage mentally and emotionally in a new direction. WHY IT MATTERS is where to begin.

About Jody Glynn Patrick

Jody is President of Glynn Patrick & Associates, which provides management consulting, executive coaching and strategic planning services. She is Publisher Emeritus of In Business magazine, which she published for 17 years. Selected as the “U.S. Business Journalist of the Year” in 2007 in Washington, DC, by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Jody has been a business reporter, editor, radio talk show host , and has won other state and national journalism awards. At the same time, she has helped corporate clients grow their businesses -- the basis for her practical coaching advice here. She also was the 2005 Athena Award recipient for her leadership role in mentoring other professional women. Jody will be talking with you weekly on TDS’ blog to share her insights and tips from the C-Suite perspective. Follow on G+.

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