How Can You Know?

If you’re in a leadership position then one of your core responsibilities is developing the people you are leading. Key to developing your people is understanding what motivates them to accept change in their lives. 

So how can you know what motivates them? Well I have a rather shocking and provocative idea. 

You could ask.

I know that’s not really shocking or provocative. It only seems that way because so few people in positions of leadership flat out ask their people what motivates them. Many of those who do ask only do it within the confines of an annual review process. That is NOT nearly often enough. 

When you ask you should be prepared to receive no answer…at least at first. Your people may initially be surprised by the question since it’s so rarely asked. So give them a day or two and ask again. 

One of the reasons the question is so rarely asked is that many people in leadership positions believe the answer is likely to be “money.” As in, more of it. But Authentic Leaders know that money is seldom the answer because money is actually a very poor motivator. If people have enough money to pay their bills and meet their basic needs then more money isn’t likely to motivate changed behavior. 

Once you know what motivates them then ask a follow up question. Something along the lines of, “how can I help you attain and retain that motivated frame of mind?” 

Those two questions should be asked anytime you see one of your people struggling to keep themselves motivated. Asking shows you care. If you don’t care enough about them to help them remain motivated to reach their potential then you don’t care enough about them to actually lead them. 

So stay close enough to your people to detect reduced motivation in it’s early stages. The sooner you catch it the sooner you, and your people, will overcome it. Never forget, your most expensive employees are not the ones you pay the most. The most expensive people in your entire organization are those who are unmotivated and disengaged. They receive a paycheck and provide little in return. 

These days, no organization can afford that.

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