Executives and managers often ask me how to
motivate employees, especially in these tough
times. They may be considering crazy and
gimmicky approaches that others are trying.
To shift their thinking, I recommend they
consider times when they have lacked motivation.
I'll start with an example of my own.
Running up Red Oak Hill, I find myself
turning inward, mentally and physically. My
shoulders hunch, chest caves, and feet barely
clear the ground as tired thoughts and
notions of walking invade.
Suddenly, I think of the frequently heard
coyotes known for stalking the ill, the old,
and the wounded. Do I resemble their prey?
In a blink, I am the young athlete, well, at
least comparatively speaking. My shoulders
rise, my chin leads, and my knees find a bit
of spring. I am no longer the ill, the old,
or the wounded! It never fails.
So you want me to motivate my employees
No. That doesn't work. People adjust to fear,
otherwise we would all be moving all the time
to get away from crime, floods, earthquakes,
pollution, wild fires, etc. No, threats don't
work. As a matter of fact, sustainable,
resourceful motivation can only come from
within. However, as a manager, you can
enlighten employees so their own
self-interest kicks in. It is easy for people
to turn inward, think only of themselves and
their immediate wants and needs, as I am wont
to do running up a steep hill.
What the coyotes did for me was to break
through my self-absorption and make me aware
of my surroundings. They made me think about
what I needed to do to ensure my own survival.
Managers can do the same thing:
Most employees want to do their best to help the
company, but the objectives, the specific
steps needed to succeed, and the evidence of
progress are often lost in the daily chaos. They
find themselves running up a steep hill.
They turn inward, forget the bigger picture,
and think about walking. Worse, they might
even turn around and head
back down the hill instead. Can you blame them?
- Be sure employees are aware of their
- Be sure they know what they need to do to
contribute, survive and succeed.
Keep in touch with your employees. Be sure
they are aware of the current state of
affairs, the priorities, and why it matters.
Be sure they understand how they can make a
difference. Last, but not least, be sure they
can see signs of progress or evidence of
No, you can't motivate others from the
outside, but you can tell them about the
coyotes and how to differentiate themselves
from coyote prey.
If you would like to discuss motivation
further and how to use these ideas in your
business, please call 413-527-3737.