Staff mojo… how to plant the seeds of motivation

Inspiration: My daughter Charlie

Inspiration: My daughter Charlie

This week one of my top performers was having a downday….she’d lost her mojo, was feeling ‘flat’ and told me she was struggling with motivation. “How do you keep motivated and inspired?” she asked me. As a leader, my stomach sank.  There is nothing scarier than a top performer who is feeling worn out…..as Leaders we get scared that if we don’t quickly ‘motivate’ them, they might drop their performance, burn out or dare I say it….leave. The pressure! I wanted to give her an answer, not any answer, a great answer that would make her feel valued, inspired,motivated and happy.  But the fact is there isn’t just ‘an answer’.

Can you really motivate someone? Especially in a 30 minute weekly meeting! Truth is it can’t be done. You can’t physically motivate another person. It is not something I can give to someone else to make them feel good again to conquer the world.  However, I can certainly influence them, share my experiences and ask them questions that may help them find their own internal motivation.

Firstly, what’s not working? What is it specifically that is making them feel disheartened, disinterested or demotivated? Is it just a once-off incident of something going wrong with a client, an internal disagreement or something bigger? Or is it an accumulation of things that have been niggling at them, with something that has made them snap that perhaps in isolation would not have been a big deal but now seems huge. Getting to the crux of their de-motivation is really important because once this is solved; that can often be the end of their bad patch and they return to a positive frame of mind.

In this circumstance, nothing was specifically going wrong with my Consultant. There wasn’t anything in particular that she was unhappy about. So it comes down to desire…..

Whatever job you do, you need to be clear on why you are doing it. What’s in it for you? What are the goals you are aiming for and the benefits you receive from doing what you do? I’ve always been a visual person and it might sound corny, but really having something in front of me to focus on gives me inspiration on days that perhaps aren’t perfect or going 100% my way.  Early in my career, working as a Recruitment Consultant, I had picture of a convertible at my desk – I was determined to have a sports car.  Those days when I didn’t want to pick up the phone and make a cold call or tell a candidate they didn’t get the job or it was 7pm at night and I was screening even more CV’s, I would look at that picture and find my inspiration and that extra mojo I needed to achieve success. As years went on the visuals changed – but there has always been pictures of something (holidays, houses, travel) or someone (family) to inspire me. And it works. I got that silver MG convertible at age 21 – the insurance was a killer! The moment you take your eyes off the goal, you can lose focus, ambition and drive.

So with a demotivated staff member – be clear on what their goals are. What is this person motivated by? Do they have visuals around them? Everybody aspires to something – as the leader we need to show the connection between what they do and how they can go about achieving it in their day to day work.

If this doesn’t work, the flip side is cost. I don’t like to use this method as much – it doesn’t have a nice warm and fuzzy attached to it like the benefit method does.  For example, I have had Consultants tell me in the past they aren’t motivated by money or they don’t aspire to a new house or an overseas holiday. They are happy as they are. Great. Really, that is great.  But you’re telling me you’re de-motivated, you have lost inspiration and are feeling flat – what is the cost to you, your career and your results if you continue this way? Perhaps things won’t be that great anymore.  It is getting them very clear that if they don’t make the calls, see the clients, fill the jobs, generate the results, then actually you won’t be in top performance and then they may not be in such a great place. The ultimate cost here is their job.  This can be the make or break conversation that either gets them back on track or a realisation that change is on the horizon.

Day to day, I have found several things that work as quick “motivation injections”:

  1. Have a conversation with someone who makes you feel good
  2. Read an inspiring article, quote or surf social media for new ideas and excitement
  3. Write down at least 1 new quantifiable goal that you really want to achieve
  4. Take 30 minutes to write a dream list – anything you ever wanted to achieve/have/own and there is no restrictions (dream big!)
  5. Put up a new visual for inspiration – photo/screen saver/picture
  6. Take action – do something that makes you feel uncomfortable (as this often generates big results eg: a new client)
  7. Write a love & loathe list (to re-focus on what you are good at)
  8. Plan a holiday & enjoy the research
  9. Buy a new book on-line
  10. Have a coffee, go shopping or plan a day off to “re-charge”

So for me – how do I keep motivated and inspired? My husband laughs as I’m telling him what I’m writing about – he says it’s the mortgage and my love for shopping that keeps me motivated! There is of course some truth to this – visual goals remember! But I do believe inspiration comes from around us as well as finding inspiration from within ourselves – it is not something someone else can give us or make us feel. I am certainly inspired by other people’s success or by a conversation or a presentation, movie or book.  But real inspiration, the type of inspiration that drives me to succeed and achieve, comes from within.

What tips and tricks do you use to stay motivated and re-focus when feeling flat?