An easy, simple, and effective way to motivate employees

When you help others find time to do their favorite things, it helps them and it shows you care.

When you help others find time to do their favorite things, there are many positive ripple effects, and the impact is more motivating and lasting than you might think.

There is an easy, simple, and effective way to motivate employees. It works like a charm, and better yet, the real benefits are lasting and deep.

Here’s the tip: Have employees do what they love and then encourage them to do it more.

Maybe that sounds just too crazy. I imagine you reading this and thinking to yourself: “Of course it’s easy to motivate someone to do something they already like!” You probably are more interested to learn how to motivate someone to do something they don’t want to do!

Well, now I think we’re at the root of the problem. If you’re consistently trying to get someone to do something distasteful, or even just uninteresting, you need to re-evaluate the assignment. But if you’re looking for long-lasting and exceptional performance from an employee, you need to make sure they like the task! People gravitate to the things they find satisfying, and the odds are they will do quality work, too. They will be curious, want to expand their skills, and stretch to new opportunities. If someone is routinely struggling in an area, or lacks any desire to improve, then you are wasting your time to force it.

Grace offered an example of this now that the temperatures have finally warmed up in New Hampshire. She adores chasing frogs at the water’s edge. Her every fiber displays how much this is enjoyable, but also stimulating for her. She becomes intent on her mission, with all senses alert and ready; the typical distractions that cause her fear or concern fall far away from her awareness. In fact, she readily moves beyond her self-imposed boundaries, such as wading in deeper water than she would ever consider in normal circumstances. Her eagerness in this activity comes purely from within; my husband and I just make sure she has the opportunity to do it as much as possible. That aspect of the equation is key; don’t overlook your part in ensuring time is allocated.

Are you thinking that this is easier to make happen for a dog than an employee? It might be, but don’t ignore the obvious. If an employee on your staff is in a job that he hates, you can tell. And you’re not doing anyone any favors but not addressing the situation. Work to achieve a fit of the person’s style, traits, and interests to the job, and your motivation issues will be solved. Create a strong sense that the overall purpose and objectives are aligned with the individual’s enthusiasm and even tasks she considers tedious will become bearable.

There are many benefits to ensuring that people are engaged in activities that they love. For the employees, they enjoy a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. But there are critical benefits to you as the manager, too, including the following:

  • It shows you have spent time understanding what is important to your employee.
  • It illustrates you care about the person when you encourage them to focus on those activities.
  • Offers some leverage on the occasions when you do need to ask a person to do something that don’t want to do.
  • Builds loyalty and trust, creating strong relationships.

What are other benefits can you think of? What is a favorite activity that your employees enjoy? What will you do to ensure they spend plenty of time doing it?

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  1. Jane on May 29, 2015 at 8:21 am

    Robin — I’m just struck by the common sense and humanity of the observations and advice you and Grace provide. I’m remembering the experience with managers whose choices were informed by a lot of unexamined “shoulds” and the relief they felt when ask to consider how they would like to be treated/managed if they were in the situation of their employee.

    Enjoy this summer’s exploring with Grace

    Thank you,

    • Robin on May 29, 2015 at 8:29 am

      Jane, what a big smile you brought to my face. Thank you for your observation as well. That’s a powerful way to suggest that managers think about their choices: “how would I want to be treated?” Appreciate your ongoing support in so many ways, including the Walk donation!

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