Motivation is something we all want and need. We understand ‘what is motivation’, yet many of us find it lacking, especially when we work in teams. Why? Performance management looks at increasing the motivation of people and teams to get more from them, yet it often seems like pushing a boulder up a mountain.
Looking at the dictionary we can see two meanings to the word motivation.
1. The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.
2. The general desire or willingness of someone to do something.
The first definition of motivation shows us that it is very logical and rational. We are motivated when we are given a reason to be motivated. This definition also seems to talk about motivation in the past as in “what motivated you?”
The second definition seems to contradict the first. A desire to do something is emotional rather than rational. We are motivated because we want to do something. This definition also seems to talk about motivation in the future as in “what will motivate you?”
So motivation is both rational and emotional, facts and feelings. Motivation also seems to sit between the past and the future, very much in the ‘now’.
Why Do We Need Motivation?
Without something to drive us forward, whether they be facts or feelings, we wouldn’t do anything. When we weren’t hungry we wouldn’t eat. When we didn’t know something we wouldn’t learn. Nothing would move forward. Everything would be stuck in a rut.
People and teams can get stuck in a rut. It can happen very easily. A person or team could be happy at home, paid well and have plenty of holidays yet still they seem stuck.
Who Has Motivation?
‘Ah ha’, you might say, ‘the boss or team leader isn’t giving them enough motivation!’
Really? Whether it is facts or feelings, motivation comes from within. In this case, how can you give motivation? It isn’t some kind of magical power up or chemical energy drink. The person or team member needs to ‘own’ their own motivation.
For the person this can be quite simple, do what you love. If you let your passions fuel you as an individual then you’ll be motivated to continue. If you concentrate on what you are good at, more will be done in less time.
This is flow. The path of least resistance or the ‘thing’ that motivates you from within.
Yet everyone has strengths and challenges. If everyone only did what they were good at certain things would be done well and quickly while other things would be ignored.
This is one of the reasons why we naturally form groups and teams. We can do more, with less.
Where Is The Motivation In A Team?
We’ve established everyone has a way to motivate themselves, or ‘get into flow’. What is the best way to motivate a team? With a mix of different motivations the team can be pulled left and right as it chases the motivations of the individual members.
The team needs to understand its own shared purpose. Why they have come together in the first place. Once they all agree and understand their primary purpose, or team motivation, they can look at who will be good at what , motivating individuals to move forward towards their goal. It won’t matter how close or far away it is, how simple or difficult it will be. This is because the team understands why.
How To Motivate A Team?
So motivation or flow comes from within. Its a personal thing but how can a group keep up the motivation? Talent Dynamics looks at this question and gives a simple answer. You cannot get yourself fully into flow, you can only get others into flow.
It is the team that motivates the team. With one success, the team wins. With one problem, the team solves it. Each member covers the challenges of the other while using their particular strengths to make progress for the shared purpose.
In this way, the cycle of motivation can close on itself becoming truly sustainable.