Tech Talk Live Blog

Encouraging Self-Motivation and Initiative in Your Department

Jessica Diller

Motivating staff can be difficult and encouraging them to be self-motivated is even harder.  The things that motivate you, might not be the things that motivate others. There are two main types of motivation:

  • Intrinsic – because we want to
  • Extrinsic – because we have to

So how do we motivate staff to “want to” do the things that they “have to” do.  In my opinion the answer is that you will never get 100% of your staff to be 100% motivated all of the time.  The trick is to create an environment to which employees feel a personal commitment and where they experience personal gratification; an environment where your staff will be self-motivated to do what is right for themselves, the customer, your department, and the overall company.

So what are some proactive ideas that you can do as a manager to encourage self-motivation and initiative in your department?

  1. Start with the big picture and create a supportive environment. Have your staff set high, but realistic goals. Allow them to take the right level of risk without punishing failures.  Give constant positive feedback, as well as ways to improve. Inform all your staff of new opportunities, and encourage them to seek advancement.  Help your employees work through obstacles, and let them see your support.  Be transparent, and always keep your employees informed.
  2. Ask your staff what motivates them. Take the time to meet with your staff and ask them what brings them to work every day.  Ask them what parts of their jobs they truly enjoy and what parts they dislike.  Be careful not to make any false promises, but encourage the conversation by finding ways to add more of the things that they enjoy doing to their daily schedule.
  3. Encourage creativity and out of the box thinking. Find out what motivates your staff, and provide incentives for out of the box thinking and innovation.Be sure that the incentives are things that your staff truly values and that all (not just a subgroup) are rewarded.  Set the expectation that not all the innovations must be successful.  The point is to reward and build confidence for your employees so that they bring ideas forward.
  4. Encourage your staff to volunteer in committees within and outside of your organization. Employees who feel supported by their employer are more likely to be motivated to go above and beyond in the workplace. Be sure to set the example.  Volunteer some of your time to a cause near and dear to your heart.  Allow employees to use some of their “work time” to participate in such committees, showing that you back them up completely and share in some of the same values.
  5. Address the things that might be sabotaging self-motivation in the workplace. Do not let, for example, employees with bad attitudes, rumors, or inconsistent policies affect employee morale. Be sure to address these issues quickly and do not let them linger.  For employees to be self-motivated, they must feel like you are on their side and that the company has their best interest at heart. Self-motivation can quickly be hampered when employees feel like their efforts are in vain.

In conclusion, getting your employees to have self-motivation is a work in progress.  It is work that is continuous and as managers requires our constant attention.  Building an environment where employees feel as though they are on the same team as the supervisor and company is key.  It requires changing employee attitude from coming to work because it is something they have to do to work is something they have to do, but they are doing this particular job because they want to do it.  By really taking your time and getting to know your employees, you can encourage them into positions that give them value and a job they love.

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