Motivation cannot be mandated! I often bring a magic wand to my face-to-face seminars and university classes. The audience usually emits a loud chuckle when I ask for a volunteer and proceed to wave my magic wand over their head and declare them “motivated.” While this approach is conceivably absurd, many motivation books and speakers imply that by simply following the author’s guidance you will instantly become motivated. Authors of these books declare
By Richard Feenstra
You don’t want to be that leader, the one that kills motivation. You also don’t want to be that employee, feeling trapped in an organization where motivation is an afterthought. Motivational Murder is a short book, written by my colleague and friend Dr. Hoffman, a professor and business consultant that has spent decades studying the science of motivation.
Whether you are currently in a leadership role or your professional goals would benefit from working with a motivated team, Motivational Murder discusses 7 motivational red flags you need to look for and how to avoid them. In this article, I’m going to share a brief review of these 7 motivational killers:
#1 Mandated Motivation: This is a common error where you pick up a best selling
This motivation hack teaches you how to prosper from adversity and pain.
How can you lose $20,000 in five minutes and be happy about it? People think this is a trick question. No one likes to lose money. But with the right approach and by using the Water-to-Wine Hack, any situation, however awful it seems, can become a positive motivational experience. This hack teaches us how to manage the emotions sparked by
Companies often devote massive resources toward employee education under the assumption that enhancing employee skill sets is beneficial for both the individual and the organization. The corporate investment in employee development is based on the company’s expectation of enhanced skill sets, increased productivity, and a positive relationship between training hours and profitability.
However, training employees comes with a price. One intangible cost is worker negativity and lack of enthusiasm toward training participation. Post-training repercussions include complaints about time away from work and the perception that little personal gain resulted from the developmental experience.
Here are four research-supported strategies that enhance training motivation:
1. Provide a compelling reason to participate.
Participating in a training session usually means that going forward, individuals must use different methods to meet job expectations. Resistance to change often ensues, leading to decreased productivity and personal frustration. Frontline employees often perceive “improvements” as justification for staff positions or believe that the organization is conducting training just for the sake of conducting training.
Overcome this motivational hurdle by communicating the consequences of not adopting new methods or procedures. Create a psychological dilemma and convince users that current methods have limitations. Keep in mind that unless they are dissatisfied with current procedures, employees will not be motivated to change, thereby negating the purpose of new and better methods.
2. Every initiative is evaluated based on value perceptions.
All individuals have a unique set of motivational beliefs that often operate unconsciously. Exposure to new ideas, goals or suggested process improvements triggers a cost/value appraisal. We evaluate the importance placed on achieving outcomes, the extent of satisfaction or enjoyment gained from the activity, the perceived utility of mastering or implementing the new knowledge, and the costs associated with participation. Costs are the consequences associated with engagement, including the inability to perform other, more desirable, tasks; effort investments; or the social aspects of participation.
Positive evaluations result in engagement, while negative assessments almost guarantee psychological withdrawal. For employees to assess training as valuable, articulate from their perspective how they will benefit from the training. Absent clear, plausible and relevant benefits, passionate engagement is unlikely.
3. Eliminate fear of failure.
For many, learning new skills is an anxiety-provoking experience. The employee may fear that acquiring new skills means additional responsibility or greater accountability following training. The context of learning can also be intimidating, as individuals often assess their self-confidence not by reaching specific competencies but by how they appear compared to others. If an individual harbors any self-doubt, psychological withdrawal may strike, especially in high-visibility situations.
To counteract the fear of failure, help employees understand that narrowing skill gaps is a sign of strength that demonstrates a high degree of self-awareness and willingness to improve. Instead of positioning training as eliminating knowledge deficits, create a culture where skill-building signifies initiative, humility, commitment and becoming a role model for others.
4. Avoid offering incentives.
Some organizations use carrots and sticks to motivate training participation. Incentives take the form of goals in the employees’ yearly performance plan, gifts, public recognition or monetary bonuses triggered when skill thresholds are reached. While these programs seem motivating at face value, a dilemma develops, because incentives encourage a focus on ending the training. When performance is exclusively motivated by incentives, individuals perceive the value or utility of achieving the task outcome as functionally meaningless except to earn the anticipated incentive. Instead of concentrating on what needs to be mastered, attention shifts toward gaining the reward.
If your company is committed to offering incentives, consider changing the program to equate earning the incentive with demonstrating job competency, not finishing a program. Consider on-the-spot or unexpected incentives, which are motivating because they do not diminish a skill focus or reward someone who completes the training as soon as possible.
While there is no guarantee that incorporating these strategies into a corporate training agenda will instantly revitalize employees, they eliminate many of the fundamental issues associated with reluctance to participate in personal development. Infusing these ideas into a training strategy is a boon for positive publicity. Feeling competent is a basic human need that, when satisfied by the organization, encourages sharing of the positive experience with others. Arguably, the best recruiting tool in the world is a motivated and satisfied employee.
When I ask people to explain the difference between knowledge and beliefs, I usually receive a confused stare like the head tilt a dog gives you when they don’t understand your commands. There is, however, a huge difference between the two concepts: Knowledge is information that can be tested and falsified by scientific inquiry and includes interpretations that can be replicated across different people and similar contexts. Beliefs, on the other hand, are personal understandings and ways of thinking that are experienced-based and unique.
Many beliefs, but not all, are based on phenomena that defy scientific clarification. By example, most people agree and scientific evidence supports the interpretation that life has both a beginning (birth) and end (death). However, despite this knowledge, 61 percent of Americans embrace the existence of vampires, werewolves, and zombies, or hold similar paranormal beliefs that lack evidentiary support. Herein lies the problem: People routinely embrace fiction, a dilemma that is quite troublesome when it comes to understanding the motivational beliefs about the self and others.
The school year has started once again. Summer vacations are winding down and the “work” season is upon us. Regardless if you are a parent, student, or teacher or anyone else, you are probably setting goals for the months ahead that likely include some type of performance targets. Maybe you want to get to work on time every day, perhaps you committed to earning higher grades than last year, or you strive to be crowned “Employee of the Month.” If you have health and fitness priorities, you may want to exercise more, run a faster mile, or drop some weight. When it comes to setting goals, your actual objectives can be anything you choose. However, what often matters just as much as the goal you set is how you determine the goal targets and what factors you consider when determining your performance standards. In other words, how do you define “success” in goal achievement?
Bias is a reality of the human spirit. We exhibit bias in many ways, such as when personal experience works to our advantage and helps us make a correct decision or choice. Bias can also result in flawed evaluations, which may contribute to errors of reasoning and undesired performance outcomes. Self-evaluation bias, sometimes called “myside bias” (Stanovich, 2009), is the tendency to believe that your way of thinking and reasoning is superior to the methods used by someone else in an identical or highly similar situation. Perhaps the best example of self-evaluation bias is the highway dilemma.
Bobby Hoffman, Ph.D., author of Motivation for Learning and Performance, is an Associate Professor at the University of Central Florida.