There are always times we feel energised and motivated.
But what are your triggers?
Is the glow from your summer break fading? Are you on your morning commute, in traffic or on transport, smartphone and cooling coffee in hand, pressed up against your fellow travelers? It’s another new day in another new year and it is far too soon to be feeling already a little jaded.
Let’s focus on what makes us feel the spark. Consider these motivators that help you and others work more effectively.
Achievement and completion
You arrive at work and are instantly confronted by all the tasks that need doing. It’s useful to simply write down the tasks that must be done by the end of the week, and those that you can prioritise for today. Then start with the smallest, easiest task. Knock it over and you’ll begin to sense your brain motor revving. Of course you can get things done — you just needed to start somewhere. Then tackle another. Make a call you’ve been putting off. Don’t watch the clock too much. Don’t whip yourself if everything wasn’t completed by the end of the first day. The aim is to complete each task and feel a sense of achievement as you do.
Those big tasks need milestones so everyone can feel good when they are achieved. We humans thrive on completing tasks, especially getting through the challenges.
Acknowledgement and recognition
If you lead others, remind yourself every day to acknowledge people’s efforts, initiative and goals achieved. Make a point of recognising when things have been tough and congratulate them on what has been achieved. Sincerely expressed, spontaneous praise is more cheering than pro forma recognition.
Don’t always glance hopefully at your boss for verbal acknowledgement that you’ve done well — they may be preoccupied or (worse) indifferent. Get on with what you have to do. Acknowledgement might instead emanate from a grateful client or another staff member whose load became easier because of what you did. These special boosters can emerge from surprising quarters.
In busy, frequently poorly-managed workplaces, the distribution of workload is sometimes quite uneven. Don’t pretend you haven’t noticed if someone is struggling. Go and offer to help or finish off what you promised to do. It will make a difference to them and yourself.
You might have offered to help someone and later wished you hadn’t because you already have enough on your plate. Don’t bite off an unrealistic offering that impacts your performance. The reality is helping someone is very rewarding and makes you feel good. It may be coaching, sharing tasks or completing something they struggled with. Maybe it is helping them to get organised, because you are a good organiser. Work out what you can realistically do, don’t do it like a martyr. Make this a part of your style.
Having some in the room to be creative is very important. What do you do with your team to encourage people to think laterally, make suggestions and initiate? You need strategies to build this special side of people’s performance. This can lead to great job satisfaction.
When a manager is breathing down someone’s neck, it’s hard to feel motivated, especially if you’re the bringer of brilliant ideas. Raise this as constructively as possible at the next team meeting, and request the opportunity (and resources where possible) to come up with some solutions of your own, provided you can prove you also complete tasks that need doing in a timely fashion.
Ah, clear, concise, competent direction — this makes a huge difference at work! Make sure you are not moving in a haze because your directions lack clarity. Consider what the team needs as a whole and what each individual needs. Some of us respond to an idea and can create the direction and strategies. Others need the path laid out with markers. Over directing and being over directed can be as frustrating as little or no direction. Know who responds best to what.
What if you’re not getting any quality direction? One tip that might help: write down what it is you would like from a manager. Write it up objectively and don’t resort to personalising or blame, even if your manager is demonstrably doing little about their office behaviour. Share it with your team at the next meeting, under the agenda item of ‘group performance motivators’. This might achieve the desired effect.
Goals help you to visualise results, stretch yourself and develop. They help motivate and remind you to stay on track. These can be small goals each day or week, or big picture goals, where you feel the big glow of reaching those targets.
Goals may change, depending on your circumstances, but it’s valuable to note these down when possible. Keeping a journal, even bullet-journalling, is therapeutic. Your goals can be as varied as you like — spread them across your job, career, vocation, personal life, savings and so on. When you’re feeling ground down in one area of your life, you can remind yourself that you’re kicking goals elsewhere. That is tremendously uplifting.
Attention and being liked
Most people feel better when they get positive attention, respect and when they are liked. Nothing is worse at work than conflicts and being ignored. That kind of negative attention makes people hate coming to work and they are certainly not working productively. Get through these barriers.
Yes, there’s a lot of attention-seeking and quests for affirmation out there. The best thing to do is start by liking and valuing yourself (and being honest). Be ready to stand on your own where need be. Treat others as you’d like to be treated. Notice and praise (truthfully) what people are doing. Be the role model that you admire. Don’t let a stupid issue get in the way of a relationship at work and start disliking those you work with. Get through it. That’s all that’s really necessary in this department.
Humanity has always thrived on challenges. Despite our collective wish for smooth sailing and peaceful lives, some of us become bored. The most constructive way to deal with this is to set yourself challenges — daily, weekly, monthly — whichever approach works best for you. Choose an annoying or tough task and get started, challenge yourself! It’s like personal training for your emotional and mental muscles. A little gruelling and painful to begin with, but the results and sensation are superlative.
What can you do to boost your own level of energy? When you are the master of your own motivation, you are in a good position to motivate others. Make sure you deliver on these simply strategies if you expect the best performance from your team.
This is an edited version of story that first appeared in SmartCompany.