Motivational quotes and a motivational video

It’s the beginning of the year, so I’ve been writing about motivation. I want to encourage folks to get enthusiastic and get moving on making their new year a great one. I’ve already written about not making resolutions, but developing new ways of thinking and planning. I’ve written about motivation by incentives for performance management. And yesterday, I wrote about using motivational quotes to make positive changes.

In the article “Use Motivational Quotes To Make Positive Changes,” I suggest that the thoughts you dwell upon become beliefs and beliefs can become self-fulfilling prophesies. That is, your thoughts and beliefs affect your behavior and choices. They influence the behavior of people around you. What you focus on comes true.

That’s why Henry Ford said, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

While I was doing some research for motivational quotes, I came across a motivational presentation on YouTube. It shows very clearly how your thoughts, beliefs, feelings and attitudes shape your life and make either your dreams or your nightmares turn into reality.

Here is a glimpse of a man born without limbs — severely handicapped, you’d think — turned his life into a joyous and inspiring one. He went from, as his website subtitle says, from no limbs to no limits. His name is Nick Vujicic. When you’ve finished the video, you’ll want to know more. For that, go to his site: You will be amazed, inspired, motivated.

And remember to read my article “Use Motivational Quotes To Make Positive Changes,” which I described earlier.

Performance Management Issues: Motivation By Incentives

herding catsSometimes I get a little tired of listening to the latest management consultant fads. One that annoys me considerably is the idea that motivating behavior by incentives is somehow grubby and meant only for lower level workers. That more sophisticated employees need to have more trust, freedom, flexibility and recognition. That motivating them is much more complicated.

Oh bosh. First of all, trust, freedom, flexibility and recognition are incentives. And they’re given to employees who’ve shown they deserve them. And they’re not necessarily the highest level employees. Sometimes they’re the janitors.

Motivation by incentive (reward) — is the most common form of motivation in history. No matter how many motivation theories we try to wrap our brains around, the fact remains that rewards get people to do things. And always have.

The right rewards at the right times even get people to do things they’d prefer not to do.

You’ve probably read about how complicated motivation can be. About how rewards stop working after a certain point. And that’s true. Every individual has an “enough” line. A point where no practical reward is enough to get him to do what you want him to do.

But for most practical purposes, for most tasks, for most people, you will do quite well in finding incentives that get folks to do what you want. Or to get yourself to do what you want, need or should.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory is often cited as a reason that the old carrot and stick system doesn’t work once someone achieves a certain level of development. We’re often told that incentives are good when we’re focused on basic needs at the bottom of the hierarchy but that motivation becomes more complicated as lower needs are satisfied. Supposedly we won’t work for the same incentives, but require more freedom of choice in tasks for self-actualization.

That is a misunderstanding of Maslow’s very helpful instrument. We don’t stop having to satisfy our basic needs — ever. And even when we are working hard to survive, we still want to be moral beings leading lives of meaning and purpose. For adults, all the needs in Maslow’s hierarchy are in play, to different degrees, all the time.

That means that no matter how sophisticated you are, no matter how much money you have, no matter how many friends, family members or supporters you have, no matter how creative and accomplished you are — you still have plenty of needs to be met and you still respond to incentives and disincentives. (Rewards and punishments.)

So, while — as the latest tribe of management consultants tell you — money isn’t the only incentive that people need to work well, it’s still right up there at the top level. As are recognition, freedom, flexibility and creativity.

Also remember, when employees are failing in their work performance, there are numberless possible outside causes. Like family relationships or personal health.

Continue to think in terms of incentives. Continue to call them incentives or rewards. You don’t have to learn motivational psychology. All the old stuff still works. And when any particular incentive isn’t working for an employee you want to keep, you might just want to actually ask what’s going on. Maybe it’s something you can help with by giving different rewards. Maybe it’s something you can’t help with because it has nothing to do with you or his work.

Investigate, discuss, determine the problem. Just like you do with other management problems. And then, if it’s something in your power to deal with, create the proper incentive.

Musketeers, Baby Steps and Employee Motivation

Over the last week, I’ve published some guest articles I’d like to bring to your attention, out of the daily additions I do to the site:

In “Winning at Working: The Musketeer Approach,” you learn why it is necessary to build a support network of trusted colleagues to get you through the hard times at work.  This is a different consideration from a career-building network, although the networks may overlap.  And how important it is for all in the group to “be there” for one another.  It’s not enough to acquire casual friends in the workplace.  You need folks who can really back you up.

“Behold — The Mighty Baby Step!” is a reminder of how powerful you become when you step out of “overwhelm” by breaking down big jobs into easier-to-handle pieces (or smaller chunks of time) and then persisting at the small stuff until it’s done.

“Motivating Employees: You’re Kidding, Right” is one coach’s response to the idea of employee motivation.  Much depends upon what you mean by “motivating,” but more often than not, when management wants motivation, they mean a system or set of practical techniques that will apply in general.  The consideration of individual differences in motivation makes generalizations very difficult.  While there are some “universal” motivators, it is challenging to make practical tools and methods from them that apply to any particular workplace.  The best that psychologists,  coaches and consultants can really do is teach the principles of motivation and self-motivation, give some typical examples, and let folks try to figure out for themselves what applies to each individual worker.  If it were easy to break down motivations into techniques, I’d be making millions using “motivation” to get customers to buy whatever I wanted to market.