For many employees, motivation comes from an outside source. It could be the fact that their job is a great resume builder and a stepping stone to a new position. Or, they might put in that extra effort to get overtime pay. They may just work hard to provide for loved ones.
But you want your team motivated by something more — an intrinsic desire to succeed. They’ll work just as hard as they do when an outside force inspires them, but they’ll do it because they feel accomplished and proud of themselves when they finish something. They’ll feel challenged, but they’ll know they’re capable. With that type of environment, they’ll love their jobs, and everyone on the team, including you, will be pleased.
The only thing left to do is learn how to stoke your staff’s internal motivation. Here are some simple ways to do it:
Make Your Purpose Clear
There’s perhaps nothing worse than having a job that feels pointless. You’re not giving back to the community. You’re not helping others, and you’re not contributing creatively, so, what’s the point?
The truth is, most positions do have some higher purpose, and it’s up to you in your leadership role to make that clear. You might also want to work with your colleagues and bosses to hone in on your company mission, write it down and share it with every one of your employees. It may not feel like it every day, but you’re working toward something, which makes it all worthwhile.
Give Vacation Where Vacation Is Due
Team members who take vacations will return to the office feeling energized and creatively rejuvenated. With clear minds and rested brains, imagine just how motivated employees will be when it’s time to get back to work. Plus, your team will feel valued when you encourage them to take the breaks they deserve, thus motivating them to work hard until their next breather.
Challenge Them and Let Them Chart Their Course
Easy projects seem like the ideal, but it turns out your team will eventually crave work that challenges them. Top leaders and speakers know that and increase their confidence is key to fostering intrinsic motivation. Otherwise, their jobs will quickly become tedious, and they’ll stick with it for external reasons — or seek out another job that pushes them to be their best.
While a demanding schedule is enough to keep everyone on top of their game, you can take that motivation one step further by giving your team ownership over the tough projects at hand. Allowing them to contribute ideas and guide a task from start to finish will motivate them even further. Your team and company may supersede its goals with that type of hard work.
Show Mutual Respect
In movies and on TV, we see workplaces depicted in the same way as managers exert their superiority over newbies and everyone fears the wrath of a money-hungry CEO. While your workplace may not be this extreme, there still might be a lack of mutual respect between every single employee, which puts some higher-up staffers on a pedestal. This is no way to create intrinsic motivation.
You can’t get rid of managerial roles or executive positions that keep the company and employees on track — but you can ensure that everyone treats each other with kindness and respect. There’s nothing worse than a dismissive, mean or otherwise unreachable boss. Making yourself someone approachable and amenable to your team’s requests will make them so much more excited about working for you and working toward a shared goal.
Educate and Mentor Your Staff
Continuing education and workplace seminars allow your team to hone their pre-existing skills and add even more knowledge to their arsenals. As such, opportunities for workplace training has been shown to increase an employee’s sense of worth, and that a feeling of value helps inspire intrinsic motivation.
Mentorships can cultivate the same vibes. Plus, that can better your company, including reduced turnover rates and an improvement in everyone’s leadership skills. Investing brain power and personal time into your team will instantly create that sense of value that will inspire them to work harder and to stick with a company that cares for them.
As an employee, there’s nothing worse than a once-a-year feedback session. The formality and rarity of it all can make participants feel nervous and dread this type of one-on-one. Plus, without any guidance throughout the year, they won’t know how to improve and work toward potential bonuses or raises until it’s too late.
So, give your team feedback throughout the year — this will make your one-on-ones less tense, less formal and much more motivational. Everyone likes to hear what they’re doing well, of course. But constructive notes will also be appreciated and give actionable tips as to how to improve before the next meeting. That will undoubtedly inspire your team to do better for themselves and the company.
Watch What Happens Next
Challenging your team, giving them control, investing in them, valuing them and giving them the tools to succeed are all ways to foster the intrinsic motivation your team needs. And, with a tuned-in leader like you at the helm, they’re sure to feel spurred to work hard day in and day out. All you have left to do is watch what happens next and see just how far a little bit of motivation can go.
About the Author
Sarah Landrum is the founder of , a career and happiness blog. As a freelance writer, Sarah enjoys writing about a variety of topics from career and business to healthy living. Catch her on Twitter for more great advice.
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