Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Few days back I was attending a Effective Leadership training, in my organization and I had an opportunity to address the group for ten minutes. I had to explain the nuances of "Motivation". Here's what I had to say.

"Motivation" may be a word that's widely used in the "Knowledge Workers" society, along with Innovation, Creativity, Sustainability, Synergy, Integrity and so on. Most of them are Buzz words, and don't mean anything at most circumstances. But they are good catchy words, and good to have in an intelligent lecture, like having Item numbers in a Action Thriller.

But "Motivation" is one living / experienced word, that I have been associated with both on the receiving end, and the giving end. So, talking about it was a good thought process. Here, I would like to dis-engage the association of the word "Motivation" from work alone, and would like to generalize it across every aspect of life, inclusive of everyone.

People revolving around you, people who need you, people whom you need, your family, your play-mates, your team-members, your boss, your teacher, your regular van-driver, your milk man and many many more are people who constitute your life. Their happiness and sadness affects you. You need them and they need you. It is a very very close inter knitted life we lead. We are not disjoint at any point in time.

So, the way we react on anything might affect someone else. Mature reactions are a totally different ball-game. Lets skip that out, and come to "Motivating" people around you. Motivation - is helping someone get out of a discomfort zone and/or pushing them towards a more comfort zone. That's my way of defining it.

Now there are two categories of people who are to be motivated, in two different ways. People who are demotivated and people who are not demotivated. Who you attend first might predict your character. But in my perspective both are equally important categories of people who need motivation.

Lets look at how we motivate Demotivated people. First Question - why are they demotivated ?

a. Lack of interest or deterioration of interest in what they do
b. Monotonous nature of the things they do
c. Turbulence with peers / family members / team mates
d. Consecutive Failures
e. Subject to repeated disappointments

There could be many more. But these are major reasons people get demotivated, I have seen and experienced myself. Because of one or many of these reasons, people loose it in them and step down from what they excel in doing. The beauty is, it is well within our scope to help these people get out of their discomfort or disinterest.

How do we do that ?

The first and foremost gesture you initiate should be of Supportive nature. Anybody loves a listening ear, and most of all, people who are down on energy levels need a very concerned listener. People around you are your people, and who best can listen to them than you yourself. 'Listening' as most of you know is different from 'hearing'. Hearing happens whether or not you like to.. but listening is choosing to understand what you hear. Give the person a listening ear, and I bet you have motivated him already.

Next step is to choose directions of motivation. Either the person has been wrong on his thoughts or has been making a mistake in understanding the reality. Or probably he is correct in his reasons. Depending on the circumstances, we need to motivate people accordingly. Increase the Energy levels of the person, and add enthusiasm in him. This is where you have to be careful in setting the right directions and limitations of motivations. It is not necessary for you to solve their problems, in the name of motivation.. but if it doesn't harm you to solve, you should attempt to.

More often than not, people who are demotivated are close to insecure and unwilling to perform. You will have to sell your ideas or participate in discussions with them to bring them out to a conclusion. The person's readiness levels plays a part here... not just your intention of motivating the person.

Offer deserving Awards and Recognitions, showing and convincing him about the Future opportunities, moving him to the secure zone, adding him with more responsibilities (if that's asked for) are proven ways of motivating people. If you are capable of doing that and if the demotivated deserves, nothing should stop you from doing that.

What about people who are not demotivated ?

Another Question here ? Why motivate them ? Well, if you dont, they are next people to get demotivated.

Simple, motivation here helps them do things better or excel in what they do.

Whenever my lunch is good, I call my mom and say "Im calling from the canteen. I just had food, and the potato curry is awesome !". This is not being artificial, but this is being completely honest.. and more than that being expressive. Pat on the back, then and there.

When someone does something good, expose that to other people. If my mom had not shown my pencil sketches to my neighbors, I could have lost interest in that totally. When you receive mails appreciating your subordinates, expose them to your boss. Send them signals that his good work is being observed higher. Highlight them, at right times.

You know one reason, i need people to be motivated around me ? I just need honestly smiling faces wishing me "good morning". That will take care of the rest of my day.


Rajeev said...

நீண்ட நாட்களுக்கு பிறகு மனதை தொட்ட blogpost.
It's very true, Keerthi!
Motivation keeps the motivator and motivated fresh.
Hats off!

Keerthi said...

Rajeev, thanks :)