3 Ways to Motivate the Unmotivated

Motivating the UnmotivatedLet’s face it, there are people who just don’t seem to care about giving their best at work. This is one of the biggest frustrations of managers. It’s easy for us to believe these people lack a work ethic or have a significant character flaw. This kind of thinking often leads to a negative relationship between employee and manager and leads to long-term employee disengagement.


Managers can reverse this cycle and help employees improve their level of motivation with intentional action. This is the ultimate challenge for managers, but those who can successfully help each employee connect work goals with value goals can establish an engaged and highly motivated team.


Here are 3 ways to make this happen.


1. Coach the Connection – Get serious about your role as a coach to help the person make the connection between work goals and their desires. You can find some great ideas on coaching here. Good coaches balance driving results with caring for people. Lead with questions and work with each employee to help them establish work goals. They should be able to see the connection between their goals, your goals, and the organization’s goals.


The person’s work goals are not the only things that needs to be established. You also have to help the person understand their own desires and values. In my post The 16 Drivers of Meaning and Motivation, I wrote about the latest research on motivation that relates to intrinsic motivation and work. The bottom line is that managers, through conversation, can help employees better understand the desires and values that most drive their motivation and life satisfaction.


2. Give Them Ownership – When we feel someone is not motivated, we can easily have the belief that they don’t care. This leads us to believe that they are irresponsible and hinder us from giving them more responsibility. Resist the urge to “bench” the person. What he or she needs is to be put in the game and given ownership of outcomes. Give them a significant responsibility and let the person know you are counting on them to succeed and perform highly. Let them own it, communicate the impact it will make, and voice your confidence in them.


3. Recognize Positive Behaviors – Look for any and every opportunity to recognize and praise the person for good behavior, good attitude, and even the smallest of accomplishments. You won’t want to continue this indefinitely, but to jump-start motivation you have to recognize the behaviors you want to see continue.


Among the many skills a manager needs to be successful, fostering motivation is one of the most important. Helping people ignite their motivational fire creates a culture of energy, positivity, engagement, and high performance. And that’s leadership at it’s finest!