10. looking serious w both hands up

How To Motivate People Without The Jedi Mind Tricks

“The key to getting your employees to give high performance is to understand what motivates them.”

Do you agree with Chris Roebuck on this?

It is one of the main ideas in his very popular business book Lead to Succeed…

Regardless of where you stand, consider these 3 observable facts on motivation and decide for yourself –

  1. There’s a strong and clear link between motivation and performance (see any Employee Engagement survey for evidence).
  2. Intrinsic motivation is stronger than external motivation (compare motivation for self-chosen goal vs. goal that was given to you).
  3. Direct manager plays a large role in employee’s motivation (80% of the emotional factor in the decision, according to Roebuck’s best-seller).

As every people manager knows, what motivates one person can differ greatly from what motivates another – if one of your reports dreams of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, another may not be interested in mountains at all.

For those who need more science-backed evidence, Roebuck tells Fast Company that the secret to understanding what motivates someone is asking them questions to uncover their truth.

Is it that simple?

Yes, I think so. But how you ask the question holds the key to success.

This article offers 5 strategies + 5 actionable tips to get to access someone’s truth.

5 Ways To Uncover The Truth

“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.” – Albert Einstein

It’s no different for motivation. If you’re not motivated to create an open feedback culture in your team, for example, don’t expect a direct report to create one in theirs’.

Taking the science into consideration, here are 5 easy (& smart like Albert!) ways to motivate others:

  1. Listen first, talk second.
    As we know from Dr. Stephen Covey’s Habit #5 (from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), if you wish to be understood, you have to “seek first to understand”. Didn’t Yoda say this, too?

Actionable tip –

Before you give a direct report feedback on their performance, give them a chance to give you feedback on yours’.

2. Pay attention to what they say (words & body!).

Non-verbal communication often speaks louder than the verbal kind.

Actionable tip –

If someone with closed body posture tells you they feel good about a decision, don’t believe them. Dig deeper.

3. Ask a question at the right time. 

To get to the real, underlying issue, the timing has to be right.

Actionable tip –

Building on #2, when someone shows a lack of motivation about a decision, press in to their thoughts and feelings to “uncover” what they would need to be motivated about it.

4. Get to know their goals & aspirations (as people, not just employees).

To uncover and harness hidden motivators, ask about things beyond work.

Actionable tip –

If one of your direct reports is socially active outside of work, co-create a social initiative for them to lead in your team/group/organization.

5. Find out what inspires them and tailor your words and actions, accordingly.

Even if a message is high impact, it still needs to be tailored to the receiver – if you want it to stick, that is.

Actionable tip –

Building on #4, if someone is motivated by socially active leaders, talk about Jane Godall instead of Jeff Bezos.

What is the the best part of each of these ways?

No training or external expertise required. Zero cost involved.

All that is required is a commitment to pay attention to the people around you.

Simply ask smart questions and listen to what they say.

Take Action Now

The next time you’d like to motivate someone to bring their best performance to a task, remember these 3 things – 

  1. If people feel you value their goals, they’ll be motivated to help you with yours.
  2. Asking questions is the key to understanding someone’s needs and goals.
  3. The more you tailor your words and actions to their needs and goals, the more influence you have.

    Bottom line – it doesn’t matter if you didn’t do these things before with your work relationships. Start doing them now!

    If you’d like some actionable advice on how to develop this skill further, let me help you create a strategy for this or another must-have skill (click to schedule Free Strategy Call).