Motivating others L051

Whether you are leading an SME, a departmental team, a project, a missional community, or a small group bible study, the issue of motivating others is always a challenge. It’s easy to think that in paid employment it’s easier, as there are real sanctions of pay and contracts that can be used to extract the required response from people. In reality this is an illusion as gaining cooperation and engagement from people can never be demanded, only won.

To win people over to your agenda and set of ideas, to gain their best contribution and on-going support will always require more than the threat of sanctions. That approach is generally the last resort of the failing leader. It does have to be there as a back stop, eg ‘ if you’re not going to turn up to football practice, then you can’t play on the team’. But these are more to do with using consequences to help people learn and grow, and only occasionally need to be deployed to remove someone from your sphere of leadership.

The truth is that we all respond massively better to positive motivation. In fact the thought of trying to motivate people by negative tactics is almost an oxymoron. Sadly some parts of ‘the church’ in the past has used tactics such as fear and guilt to get people to conform, to behave and to contribute. As far as I recall Jesus only used threats of dire consequences on the hypocritical religious leaders of his day. Others were always motivated by his love, compassion, miracles, teaching, and the chance to be with him in his world-changing agenda.

So how does this transfer into a work or church situation? Well people always respond to praise better than the threat of punishment. So why not look for something to praise, especially the kind of behaviour you are trying to encourage – if you see two colleagues cooperating on a project, praise then for that behaviour. If you see them filing a report on time, praise them for it. If you hear of two church members praying together, praise them for it. If they have taken some initiative in your community, praise them for it. They say of raising children, instead of trying to catch them doing something naughty, catch them doing something good!

People are motivated by being entrusted with responsibility. So risk it. Give them a go. Tell them you are there to support them, but let then off the leash and see what they can do. Praise their efforts, even if it turns out to be more of a learning experience than a great success! To be given responsibility says ‘I believe in you, I see your potential, I trust you, I want to work with you.’ These are hugely motivating subliminal messages.

People are motivated by learning and growing in skills and knowledge. Give them opportunities to get extra training. Or just get them to read a relevant book and discuss it with them afterwards, helping them to learn. Let them work with others who are further ahead in their area of work or volunteering. They will learn from watching others and without realising it will raise their game. Their effectiveness will increase and so will their satisfaction. To succeed is to be motivated.

Finally, invite people to be part of your mission. Whether it’s to make the best widgets in the world, provide exceptional customer service, run a great department, or grow a community that touches the lives of many others, that sense of mission will draw out the best in others. Most people want to feel that their lives are counting towards something. They want to be part of a group that are working towards some worthwhile and worthy goals. They want to see a result from their labour, which gives a sense of personal satisfaction. At the end of the day, it has to be more than the pay packet, or just having turned up.

Go motivate.

This entry was posted by nic on Friday, December 16th, 2011 at 10:47 am and is filed under Leadership. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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