Don’t Try to Motivate Employees – Inspire Them to Achieve Greatness at Work

Monday, October 11th, 2010 Mike Kerr

“It is not my job to motivate players. They bring extraordinary motivation to our program. It is my job not to de-motivate them.”  Football coach Lou Holtz

Great words to lead by coach.

If you are trying to motivate your employees, I want to suggest that something has gone horribly wrong.   Most likely, you hired the wrong folks. You hired people that weren’t already motivated or people that weren’t a proper fit for your particular purpose or workplace culture.

It’s brutally hard to “motivate” another human being,  less so to inspire them.

You may think I am splitting hairs here, but I think it’s an important distinction. When we think of terms like “employee motivation” we fall in the trap of focusing too much on external rewards, on developing a system of carrots and sticks (rewards and punishments) or we look to temporary solutions (team building event, anyone?).

To me the word inspire has a much deeper meaning.

Inspiring people suggests that people will become intrinsically motivated to do their best, to develop creative, innovative solutions and provide insanely fabulous customer service because they feel a deeper connection to your organization’s vision and mission (or, in plain English, the reason you exist).

So think of ways you can inspire your people: through a deeper sense of purpose, through stories and especially through inspiring deeds that make employees feel connected to a bigger idea that simply picking up a pay cheque at the end of the week.

Video message:  Inspire or Motivate?

Michael Kerr,  The Way Work Ought to Be!

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