We all have our triggers. The things that motivate us, and the things that do the opposite. Where we cross our arms, put our heels down and refuse to take another step in that direction.
Motivation as a teenager
One day in high school, I stayed after class.
“I’d like to talk to you about the way you teach”, I said to the teacher. I was not her favorite before, and with those words, I earned myself a permanent seat to her F category.
To give an example of a typical class, we would get a book to read as our homework. Later, in the classroom, we got a questionnaire to fill out - while she wrote down the answers on the whiteboard. Our job as students was to copy her words.
This would, of course, make it easy for anyone looking to make the least amount of effort. For someone looking to learn, and actually enjoyed reflecting on what I was reading, it did not resonate.
I told the teacher that we needed to be challenged and asked her to at least let us write in our own words. Her reply was to give me an F for the whole course. (Though to be fair that also included me refusing to do to any assignment consisting of mindless copy-pasting. I was not an easy teenager to deal with.)
In this episode of Marie TV, she talks about motivating employees. One thing that particularly struck a chord with me was the part about challenging your employees to grow. It’s one thing to letting them do a course every year, but another to challenge them on a daily basis.
I’ve noticed it’s not uncommon to present a task or a project to an employee with the description “this will be super easy, you barely have to do anything”. The intention is good, of course, but for a lot of us, it has the opposite effect. Instead of feeling “great, I can do this easily”, I'm left with a feeling that I want to look for a job where they believe in me enough to push me forward.
If it’s not challenging, and I don’t have room to make it challenging, it’s not likely to motivate me.
And let’s be honest, not everything can - and should - be challenging at work. Sometimes you do things because it has to be done. But if you want excited employees, you better make sure you have enough challenges in their daily lives to keep them growing. Otherwise, they will get bored. And bored people will a) do a shitty job, and 2) leave - or worse, stay.