If motivating others were easy, everyone would do it. You can’t just read about a few techniques and implement them, expecting major changes to happen. It takes practice like anything else worthwhile.
Motivating others requires them to be willing. If someone is hard-set in not doing something, there will be little you can do to change that. You may be able to force someone, i.e., if you are a manager, etc. However, that is not the same as motivating them. If you were to leave the company, they would revert to their previous behavior.
Realize that trying a technique only when the mood strikes is not going to produce results. You must be dedicated to trying them out and continue doing so until you see results. You also need to determine when something isn’t working after several tries and seek an alternative approach. Unfortunately, there is no magic number as to when to make that determination.
Motivating others is about aligning their goals with yours. This alignment could require some compromises in the process. For instance, if you are trying to get one of your workers to do something, you need to listen to them if they legitimately say they have too much other work. You can offer to have someone else on your team take up some of the extra work, or you could even do it yourself under certain circumstances.
You can’t approach motivation as entirely academic. In other words, if you read about something and try to implement it, you think it should work. If it doesn’t, you may blame the people you are trying to motivate and believe there is something wrong with them. However, some people may be going through stressful situations and so are not able to focus on their jobs or even their personal life. You need to have compassion for them and factor in human emotions that may be at play.
If motivating others isn’t working, you should try to find out why. It may be something you are doing that needs change. For instance, are you practicing what you preach? If you are telling everyone that they must work on weekends but are unwilling to work yourself, then you will experience resistance from your team. You will have much better results if you are on the front lines with your troops.
Motivation is more about communication than barking orders. It is about getting people to recognize the importance of the work or task at hand. You must allow them to take the initiative and own the problem and their solution.
If you don’t get to know the people you are trying to motivate, you won’t motivate them. It is that simple. You can’t apply motivational techniques as if they are a recipe for cooking stew. Besides, even when you cook stew, you often deviate from the recipe.
You need to get at the heart of who each person is when motivating them. People are different, and you need to consider those differences. Some people are driven using high energy techniques whereas others like a laid-back and subtle approach.
To learn about others, you need to learn more about what they are like on a personal level. If you have been avoiding participation in after work activities, you may want to start. This doesn’t mean you need to do it every time. Your employees need to have time away from the boss on occasion. However, you do want to get to know your workers in a more relaxed and social environment.
It’s not likely that your workers will open up completely when you are attending a social event with them. They will still have their guards up. You are the boss after all, and this makes trying to learn about them more challenging. However, as you continue to interact with them outside of the work setting, they will naturally open up more.
If you negatively use information about your employees, it is going to backfire on you. If your workers confide in you and then you turn it against them, you can forget about getting them to open up to you. News will quickly spread that you are not to be trusted. Therefore, you need to be careful what you do with this information. Sometimes, you will have no choice but to use the information against them.
However, don’t take that decision lightly.
Motivating others is about formulating a plan that aligns their needs with yours. When you learn what others are about, you can customize each plan accordingly. Discussing these plans with your coworkers is okay. In fact, it’s great to get their feedback as part of the process. It affects them so they should know.
You can change plans when you find out about new information or circumstances. Be willing to make those changes, especially if they are in the best interests of your workers. Listen to what they say and offer to adjust the plans if it makes sense to do so. They will appreciate you, and you'll find motivating them will take care of itself.