Now you know: motivation is really only about having people take action and produce results, with a commitment to honoring their word to you. It’s not about getting people to “feel” a certain way so they’ll like you enough to do something. And it’s not about your own personality or charisma somehow inspiring them to do it. Motivation is about communicating effectively: using the two conversations proven to work well to get people into action.
The best way you learn to get better at this is to practice having conversations that include:
- Having a personalized dialogue about the actions and results you would like to see in some particular area,
- Listening – and using – their input regarding any concerns or questions they have regarding your ideas,
- PLUS making a clear request for them to take specific actions and/or produce specific results by a certain time, and
- Supporting them in agreeing to make that happen.
Practice will let you see just how specific you need to be with some people, and how much understanding dialogue is needed for them to get into action. Here are five guidelines to support you in successfully moving people to action in your work situation (although it works at home too).
- Be clear about what you want done, and by when it should be complete. This is the single greatest lever for successful “motivation”.
- Make a clear and specific request – ask them to do this for you. You may want or need to add something about why you are asking them and not somebody else, or why it matters to have this particular thing done. Those ingredients are usually helpful but not always necessary.
- Stay with the interaction long enough for them to either accept, decline, or counteroffer your request.
- Let them know you take their promise seriously, e.g., tell them if, at any point, they discover they cannot deliver, that you want to know as soon as possible so that you can make adjustments.
- If the request is large, complex, or otherwise challenging, make it clear you are willing to work with them to find a way for them to honor your request. If your request is likely to get buried in the stack of things already in front of them, or is postponed until the result you want is compromised, you have failed. You may need to make the promises that will support them in accepting and satisfying your request.
Motivating people to take actions and produce results is a matter of mastering Understanding and Performance conversations. It does not require “getting inside their heads” but rather getting clear on what you want, and getting into communication about it. You can strengthen your own capacity to make requests and promises, which is definitely something that will make your managerial life easier and more enjoyable.