Telling an employee to do something is not very motivating
Grace doesn’t like to get her feet wet. She will dip a toe into a shallow puddle if she’s thirsty, but I’ve never seen her immerse completely to go swimming, though she’s had plenty of opportunity. It’s a big deal when she steps into water.
Unless there is a frog out there tempting her. That changes everything.
A frog is something that she wants, and it’s something more compelling to her than her aversion (and perhaps fear) of deep water. Her motivation comes from within, not from an outside source that doesn’t appreciate her needs.
When we want to get someone to do something, it’s not enough to just tell a person to do it. That is not motivating at all, in fact, it can be demotivating and backfire on you. If you push someone into a corner too quickly, and without any support, they almost always dig their heels in deeper.
You have to think of the situation from their point of view, not your own. And we often forget that because we’re so sure that whatever we’re asking is the right thing for them. If it’s that simple or clear-cut to us, it seems like it would be that apparent to the other party. But it’s not that easy. Each of us has our reasons for why we do something and we have to respect that another person has to make their own choices, even if we disagree with them.
Here are some of my suggestions to help motivate a person to do something:
- Keep the end goal in mind. Don’t get too caught up in the exact method or process a person uses to get there, but focus on the results. Many times we concentrate on how something is done (because we’d do it differently), but it’s usually ok to let go as long as the end result occurs.
- If you catch yourself thinking or saying this: “Why hasn’t she done that yet? I TOLD her that she should do it right away!!”, then chances are good that you should re-evaluate your approach. Even if you have compelling reasons, making a demand (such ‘I told you to do it’) isn’t enough to motivate. You need to find their motivation instead of yours.
- Understand their point of view. You don’t have to agree with someone else, but you’ll be more effective if you can work to understand where they are coming from. What do they need or want from the situation? Ask their perspective; inquire about roadblocks or concerns they have in moving forward. Help them remove the obstacles and they can accomplish what you need them to do.
I love watching Grace splash through the water. But it’s only fun for us both when it’s on her terms. If you want to motivate someone, don’t bark out any orders if you expect positive results.
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