How to master the art of employee motivation

Award-winning motivational speaker and founder of Mind Games Management Training Malcolm Smith shares his tips on how to develop genuine focus in a professional environment and master the art of employee motivation.

1. Make one common goal the fuel

Motivation is having a connection to a sense of direction and a connection to a vision. In a business context that means clearly identifying what that business does, what its purpose is and where it’s trying to get to. Passion and fulfilment are really by-products of having that vision or goal. If you employees “get” that then they are more likely to be on board. If they don’t then you just become transactional and not truly invested.

2. Step back in order to move forward

Motivation isn’t linear, it naturally ebbs and flows within all of us, but there are ways to maintain a high level in a working environment. One is to be consistently and frequently reconnect with the end goal. At the start of a project you’re excited because you can visualise the future which is going to be a better place, but then half-way through you forget all of that because you’re deep in it trying to find solutions. So always try to make time to take a step back and reassess where you’re going and where you’ve come from. The more you keep identifying with the end goal the better.

3.  Set achievable short term wins

The other thing that’s important is to always give yourself some short-term wins so be sure to set regular and achievable milestones. When the end goal seems so far away, it can de-motivating because people can easily lose sight of it or forget what it actually is. By celebrating shorter term wins, you’ll be better able to focus your motivation and not have it waver.

4. Focus on the task at hand

Distractions are a motivational drain. You’ve got to give yourself ‘real time’ to lock yourself away in an environment where you can focus 100% on the task at hand. Maybe it’s something simple like hanging a sign that says you can’t be interrupted like they do at IBM. It’s critical because interruptions are said to take up 65% of our working week. When that person asks if they can have just a minute of your time, research shows that it takes you an additional 35 minutes to ask yourself the question “Now where was I?”

[Dr. Gloria Mark, associate professor at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California, found that average information workers are interrupted every three minutes, nearly twenty times per hour.]

5. Inspire people to follow your lead

To motivate a team, you first need to motivate yourself. If you’re motivated and energised about whatever it is that you’re all working towards, then everyone else will get on board too. They will get that energy. If you’re disenfranchised, unmotivated, switched off or bored, then everyone working for you will feed off that. So team out-performance requires you to be genuinely interested in whatever it is. There’s no big skill or technique, you simply have to be passionate about what you’re doing. You can model successful people but you can’t fake motivation. You simply can’t inspire others if you’re not inspired yourself.

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