Best Advice: Motivating People


Motivating people in a leadership setting can be one of the hardest things to do. It seems like some people just have the talent to get anyone to do anything while others can’t convince the sandwich maker at Subway not to put too much lettuce on their sandwish. So what is the secret to motivating people? How can you become better at motivating people?

Surround Yourself with People who are Ready to Work

I know this seems rather obvious but it bears repeating. Motivating people who can’t at some level motivate themselves is very difficult. If there are people who are waiting for direction and are ready to put their energy towards that then those are the people to surround yourself. Stay away from lazy people or people who just don’t seem to want to do anything. You will waste time and energy on trying to motivate them. However, if you can match your motivational prowess with their own motivations, it is like a fine food/wine pairing, exquisite.

Understand What Motivates People

The best way to motivate someone is to play into their own motivations. You have to understand what makes people tick and what makes them feel empowered and able to do things. There are several ways to do this. The Meyers-Briggs test is quite popular but you have to know what they tested out as in order to understand their motivations. Personally, I use the Enneagram as my way of finding out what motivates people. Once you have understood the 9 points on the Enneagram you can understand how to play into those motivations to get the best results. The best part is that once you know the Enneagram you can simply observe the behavior of someone you want to work with and then deduce what number they are and begin working with them in a new way that corresponds to their motivations.

Have a Plan, Know What to Say

This final point is really the key. When you are ready to announce your plan and a new course of action, the key is to prepare what you are going to say, how you are going to say it, and how to tailor your message to the people hearing it in order to touch into their motivations for working with you. If your message comes across as not well planned, confused, or not finished then people will be skeptical and will not want to follow you. No one wants to follow a leader who doesn’t know where they are going. You have to have a clear vision of where you’re going and what you’re doing and how you think you are going to do it. Once you have that in place you can take it to the people you need to convince them to believe in your vision and your pathway to get there. Don’t think of motivation as a kind of exhortation to get people to do something, view it as a way to empower people to create amazing results. Your job is to channel those results into success for yourself or your organization.

The Bottom Line

Motivating people can be hard but if you can identify what motivates people, get your message clear, and be around people who are ready to make things happen, you are well on your way to success.