Elizabethkuhnke's Blog

How to Motivate

Posted on: September 21, 2011

The ability to motivate a team as well as yourself is key to achieving good management skills.

 One of the challenges facing CEOs and managing directors is how to keep motivating the people who are supposed to motivate others in the organisation.

 The question has several different dimensions. Too often senior managers – the people whose responsibility is to provide leadership in an organisation – don’t realise the impact (or lack thereof) of what they say. It is this impact that either fires up managers and employees, or sets the stage for indifference and malaise. It does not have to be that way.

 Seldom are senior managers prepared to take the time to find out what managers and employees hear when they are on the receiving end of motivational speeches.

The reality is in most cases, that the recipients of the message are actually hearing something other than what is intended. 

This is not simply because the speaker says the wrong words; it is often because of the way in which the words are said.

Once a CEO is aware of how managers and employees are receiving his messages, he needs to begin to work on building creative tension into his presentations. Creative tension is a way in which you can conv ince people to get together to achieve a goal.

An excellent example is the famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech given by Dr Martin Luther King in l963 in Washington, DC. King’s challenge was to motivate people to change the way some Americans viewed the Civil Rights movement in that country. His speech captured the imagination and commitment of people by using creative tension.

In using this technique to motivate people in an organisation, a speaker first paints a picture of the way things are in the organisation (the current reality), and then paints a picture of what could be (the desired future) for the organisation. By doing this, the speaker established a gap between what is and what could be.

Then, by building the case for changing from the current reality to the desired future and how to get there, listeners are able to clearly understand the challenge they face and why they need to accept the challenge.

By both making the case  for closing the gap and walking the listeners through the steps to get there, the speaker is able to show why it is better to close the gap by moving the current reality closer and closer to be desired future instead of just weakening the desire to achieve something better.

In medieval times, there was a philosopher named William of Occam, who stated: ‘One should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything’.   This belief is known as Occam’s Razor, and it means that there is no value in doing more than needs to be done. This includes talking things over before a decision needs to be made.

Getting things done requires discussion and input but only if the discussion and input are focused on the real issues the company is facing; and only if a decision comes out of them.

Discussion – good discussion that is – requires that you explain the situation you are facing the things that complicate the situation, and then offer an option that will resolve the situation. It doesn’t require ramblings about other issues or other agendas.

Good discussion also requires good listening. And good listening means that you not only hear the words being said, but hear what is behind the words.  

Think of why that person has that view. Talk about which options make the most sense. 

Which options will provide the greatest leverage with the least prolonged effort? Which options will provide the greatest return on investment? And which options will have the least negative unintended consequences? Then make a decision.

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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4 Responses to "How to Motivate"

Hi Elizabeth,

I love this blog!!

Thought you might be interested in this bit.ly/nDBmXj, with which your blog resonates strongly.

Look forward to seeing you again on Friday.

Thanks for your positive feedback. Looking forward to seeing you on Fri, too.

It really motivates met. Thanks

I’m so pleased! What did you find most motivating?

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