Motivation – Techniques for Self Motivation

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Individuals are motivated when they are working towards personally meaningful goals. Attainment of those goals must require activity that is increasingly difficult, but attainable. In other words, people like to be challenged, but they must feel their goals are achievable to stay motivated.

Motivational Techniques

Motivation through Challenges

Individuals are motivated when they are working towards personally meaningful goals.  Attainment of those goals must require activity that is increasingly difficult, but attainable.  In other words, people like to be challenged, but they must feel their goals are achievable to stay motivated.  This can be accomplished by:

  • Establishing goals that are personally meaningful
  • Making those goals possible
  • Providing feedback on performance
  • Aligning goals with the individual’s self esteem

Motivation through Curiosity

In this concept of self motivation we are talking about providing something in the individual’s environment that arouses their curiosity.  This can be accomplished by presenting the individual with something that connects their present knowledge or skills with a more desirable level – if the person were to engage in a certain activity.  So to motivate someone through curiosity, the environment must stimulate their interest to learn more.

Motivation through Control

Most people like to feel they are in control of their destiny.  They want to feel in control of what happens to them.  To stay motivated, individuals must understand the cause and effect relationship between an action they will take and the result.  To motivate individuals through the use of control you can:

  • Make the cause and effect relationship clear by establishing a goal and its reward.
  • Allow individuals to believe that the work they do does make a difference.
  • Allow individuals to choose what they want to learn and how to go about learning it.

Motivation through Fantasy

Another intrinsic motivating factor comes via fantasy.  That is individuals can use mental images of things and / or situations that are not actually present to motivate themselves.  You can foster motivation through fantasy by helping individuals imagine themselves in situations that are motivating.

For example, if you know that someone is highly motivated by the thought of being in control, then you can talk to them about a future point in time when they might be in charge of a large and important business operation.

Motivation through Competition

Individuals can also be motivated by competition.  That’s because we gain a certain amount of satisfaction by comparing our performance to that of others.  This type of competition can occur naturally as well as artificially.

When using competition to foster motivation, keep in mind the following:

  • Competition is more motivating to some than others
  • Losing in a competition de-motivates more than winning motivates
  • Competitive spirits can sometimes reduce the likelihood of being helpful to competitors

Motivation through Cooperation

Cooperating with others or the feeling that you can help others is very motivating.  Most individuals feel quite satisfied by helping others achieve their goals.  As was the case with competition, motivation through cooperation can occur naturally or artificially.

When attempting to use cooperating to motivate, keep in mind:

  • Cooperation is more important to some individuals than others
  • Cooperation is a valuable skill that can be used in many different situations
  • Interpersonal skills are important for cooperation

Motivation through Recognition

Finally, individuals are motivated through recognition.  When their accomplishments are recognized by others, then they feel motivated.  You need to make sure that recognition is distinguished from competition.  With recognition you do not compare their achievements to those of others as you might with a competition.

Extrinsic or External Motivation

As previously mentioned, extrinsic or external motivation is the term used to describe external factors that stimulate our internal motivation. The concept of externally motivating someone is not at odds with the fact that motivation comes from within.  The point here is that it is possible to provide others with situations or an external environment that is motivating.

Perhaps the most useful lesson for the leader then becomes how to motivate employees that report directly or indirectly to the leader.  If you understand the intrinsic motivational factors previously described, then a game plan can be developed to foster motivation among employees.

Employee Motivation

Some of the most effective ways for managers and leaders to motivate their staff includes recognition, providing positive performance feedback and by challenging employees to learn new things.  Many new managers make the mistake of introducing de-motivating factors into the workplace such as punishment for mistakes or frequent criticisms.

When followers feel they are being supported and they have the ability to remain in control of their workplace they stay motivated.  Leaders can foster this feeling by allowing employees to take on added responsibility and accountability for making decisions.

But the important thing to keep in mind is that motivation is individual and the degree of motivation achieved through one single strategy will not be the most effective way to motivate all employees.  The most effective way to determine what motivates others is through carefully planned trial and error.

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