Oct 11

Motivating People Professionally

Stephan Polomski
Stephan Polomski is director human resources, coach and trainer

Recently, in a coaching session, a junior manager asked me, how he could motivate people? Everything he read about models and methods was so overcharged with details that in the end he was more confused than clear, what to do.

I told him, that – in my experience – motivation of other people (and for myself) is about just two things: first, I try to behave and organize work in a way that others have positive experience during their daily doings just here and now; and second, I secure, that my people know their personal long-term objectives what they would like to achieve in the future. In both dimensions all possible kinds of needs may be fulfilled.

Is that all, was his answer.

I am afraid, yes, I replied, this is enough if you take these two dimensions really seriously.

The first dimension implies that you constantly question and observe yourself if things you say and you do are adapt to create resonance and positive feedback loops among your workforce. It implies that you consciously apply communication methods which establish a partnering, an ok-ok-relationship, and it implies that you are well aware of the process of communication and working you are leading.

The second dimension requires a strategic lay-out for your team and it requires knowing your people, knowing their hard skills, their soft skills, their personality, knowing their strengths and potential and of course, knowing their personal intrinsic and extrinsic drivers, in other words their personal values. And that means, staying in contact with them, communicating with them, showing interest for them.

However, there are only two main dimensions you should focus on, while thinking about how to motivate people: they need meaning and they need positive experience. Once again: that´s all.

Of course, daily situations and people appear very complex sometimes. And it is wise to understand this complexity on the one hand. On the other hand, it is wise to act as simple as possible. And in order to do so, I explained, that I myself, for example do everything that my direct reports learn to take responsibility and organize their working field on their own. And I can enhance them by building up working conditions which enable them to take the lead and by energizing their resources because I build deliverables on their strengths and resources.

And are there never problems, my interlocutor wanted to know.

Of course, I said, problems occur all the time. That is absolutely normal in a system like a company. Problems also occur within the system of the human being. The question simply is how we as leaders, subordinates or teams deal with it.

Therefore in these cases my focus always is to find out who is going for which interests. What do stakeholders want, what do they need? Often by doing so, you find out from where pressure or the problem comes. And with the problem, almost always, opposition and resistance arise. Sometimes the problem is about emotions, somebody was being hurt, sometimes it is about a collision of different objectives, than I intervene more with arguments and analysis, more cognitively. However, I firstly always try, that people find their own solution: because then they are simply clear and motivated how to execute the way out. I ask if they tried to find a solution before, which may be did not work. And I focus, once again, on the individual resources of people and at the same time on the conditions the structural framework offers to be utilized.

Finally, I asked the junior manager how he concretely could motivate people in this setting. And then, we worked on this.

The question and the session showed me, that it might be worth sharing these ideas on how to motivate people professionally.

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 11th, 2012 at 01:00 and is filed under Human Resources, Leadership, Management. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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