Why is motivation important?
Whether you are trying to achieve something yourself or lead others towards an achievement, the ability to be self-motivated or to motivate is crucial. When we meet people who are regarded as successful or high achievers, it is tempting to assume that they are innately self-driven, or are natural leaders with high levels of motivational ability. This may well be the case, but it is just as likely that they have learned and used some effective techniques for either motivating themselves or to motivate others.
The benefits of motivation to an individual are fairly obvious - people who are motivated tend to be more successful in achieving their personal and professional goals, which in turn has benefits in terms of their self-esteem and confidence. Given that people are usually the most important asset of any organization, motivation is also a critical factor in the overall success of a team or business.
Three golden rules of motivation
Motivation does not take place on its own. In order to be motivated or to motivate others, it is important to remember three golden rules of motivation before considering any specific techniques.
1 Motivation is impossible without clear achievable goals
Motivation and goal setting are inextricably linked. Without a goal or purpose, motivation is meaningless, whilst motivation is a vital part of intentionally achieving any goal. Two of the most basic motivators are to know exactly what you are trying to achieve, and to then go out and achieve it. Not having a clear idea of your goal or not believing that a goal is attainable will severely dent your motivation.
2 Motivation and goals need to be in alignment at every level
How often have you felt that you have been performing well or doing a good job, only to be told by your manager or colleagues that you have been focusing on the wrong thing, that priorities have changed or that you have simply been underperforming? For example, imagine an experienced sales person who has an excellent track record of retaining business with their established customers, but is heavily criticized by their manager for failing to develop as much new business as their less experienced colleague. As a result, the sales person feels alienated, undervalued and ultimately de-motivated. Their performance and results are likely to suffer. The chances are that there has been a lack of dialogue between the manager and the sales person over how individual goals need to fit with the overall goals of the company. If the emphasis is on generating new business, has this been communicated effectively to each sales person, and in a manner which will motivate each of them to succeed?
Every business needs motivated employees in order to be successful and achieve its goals. If employee motivation is not closely matched to these business goals, the chances of success are diminished.
3 Motivation is neither fixed nor infinite
Motivation is not a one-off event. Something which provides motivation at one particular time may not be as effective in the future, due to changes in environment and circumstances. If someone is driven to become the best in their field, how do they maintain their motivation to perform once they reach the pinnacle of their profession? Even if circumstances remain constant, the most powerful motivational factors will lose impact over the course of time. For instance, you may attend a conference and feel energized by a particular speaker or meeting, and leave the event highly motivated to put what you have heard into action. How long will the impact of what you heard last before you slip back into old ways of doing things?
Motivation is a constant process and constantly changes. As an individual or as a leader trying to motivate others, it is vital to remember this.
Jason De Boer is the author of the Personal Development eBook published by my-skills, from which this article is an abridged extract. Further details are available at www.my-skills.co.uk.