“Of course motivation is not permanent. But then, neither is bathing; but it is something you should do on a regular basis.” – Zig Ziglar

Positive Quote: “Of course motivation is not permanent. But then, neither is bathing; but it is something you should do on a regular basis.” – Zig Ziglar


Motivation is such a broad topic. There are oodles of books, seminars, and what not on the market touting simple, quick, step driven or other types of ways to motivate others, yourself, your pets… you name it.


When I was new to the management role, I can remember trying so hard and so many different things in the hopes of being ‘motivational’. Offset that with the, sometimes, harsh directness I had when talking to my team. It was a recipe for failure and definitely for coming across as insincere. For example: the company I worked for many years ago would give out tickets to nascar races and such to managers to use or giveaway. I can vividly remember getting a pair of box seat tickets and selecting a top performer and presenting them with the tickets as a way to say that I thought they were doing a good job. Little did I know they hated, yes hated racing and it was actually a demotivater. I made the rookie mistake of thinking that it was the thought that counts.  


Over the years I got better at being genuine and knowing a one size fits all approach did not work. Giving tickets to a race to someone who loves races was better than someone who didn’t. What it also took was getting to know my people. I had to know who loved racing, who loved movies, who loved reading, what their hobbies were and know them as people. In other words, I had to value them and treat them as people not bodies in seats. During this time in my later years as a manager, trying to motivate continued to feel forced and not always successful.


It wasn’t until 2009 that I started really coming up with my own personal belief and thoughts around motivation. It all started when I read Daniel Pink’s book Drive. He talks about intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation and why one is better than the other and how you can use one method to lead to the other and so much more. It was like a light turned on in my head and I could now see more clearly. It made sense to me, it clicked. As a leader I have the responsibility of creating an environment where people can be able to motivate themselves. It also took away the carrot and the stick from my repertoire. I had to accept that not everyone wants to motivate themselves; that they are content being and doing what they do. I have to be ok with that. Yet, I also have to know that I have the responsibility of fostering the environment to be conducive to intrinsic motivation.


For instance, in a Help Desk environment, I should never assign a performance goal of average talk time. As a leader, that may scream out that I care more about quick turnaround on calls versus customer service; which may not be the message I was going for. In the case of the Help Desk, the metric I could use could be occupancy rate, which is a metric that reflects the availability of a person to be take calls and not be in a mode where they are not taking calls. Or even a metric around resolution rate, that the person should be resolving x percent of all calls without having to transfer to level 2 or level 3 support. In both of those cases it reflects a different standard, one being available to help callers and two to help them right the first time, which could lead to additional training, documentation, etc…


You may ask, how does one create an environment for self-motivation? Well, it depends on the team, the culture of the company, and what drives the people on your team to succeed. There is not a one size fits all approach and it is not easy. I continue to be a student and open to learn more and more. I make mistakes and work to rectify them. It all boils down to the people.


What do you think of when you read this quote?


How do you motivate others or even yourself?


Have a fabulous Friday and enjoy the upcoming Memorial Day.




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