How do I motivate my employees as a Manager?

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Motivation persuades us out of our beds, propels us into workplaces, and encourages us to enthusiastically do our work within a somewhat stringent workplace framework. Many factors contribute to our motivation – the excitement of a new job, strong and supportive team, understanding boss, and passion for the work, among others. On the other hand, the daily rigours of doing the same thing, external uncertainties like COVID 19 and consequent lockdowns, economic downturn, and consistent personal problems can just as quickly erase our motivation. 

A demotivated staff does not bode well for a business; therefore, it seems logical for managers to give either a motivational speech or have a one-on-one discussion with a non-participative employee. But, these tactics help only fleetingly, and don’t adequately counter the persistent underlying problems that lead to demotivation in the first place. Also, continuous conversations without trying to comprehend the reasons behind a demotivated behaviour can only lead to further irritation and is like applying a bandage to a sore throat.  

Let’s turn to popular media for an example. ‘Don’t be a minimum guy’, said Manoj Bajpayee’s manager to him in the second season of The Family Man, along with an array of other Internet made famous positive affirmations and quotes. They did nothing to bolster the spirit of a deeply demotivated Manoj. Because spouting motivational dialogues is a vacuous attempt at solving a layered, complex problem. The dialogue resonated deeply with the viewers as exemplified by its popularity, reflecting the sheer inadequacy of such statements.  

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So as a manager, how can you motivate your team? SoME Founder & CEO Rakesh Godhwani offers some solutions in the latest edition of Conversations with Rakesh. These include reimagining your work and reward structures to make it more challenging and meaningful and being kind and empathetic. 

Watch the video to learn more:

The following is an edited transcript of the video. 

“I am a manager, and I feel my teammates usually stay quiet and are not motivated enough. How do I motivate them?” This question came at the right time. Just yesterday a funny incident happened in my home. My 18-year-old son said he was feeling low as he was missing his friends and couldn’t meet with them because of the lockdowns. So I offered to take him out for a walk. He immediately refused, saying he doesn’t want to hear another one of my motivational speeches. I looked at him with mock anger and told him that people pay me for my speeches. And he quipped that he would pay me double to keep quiet!  

I learnt something interesting from this incident. My son at that time didn’t need my motivational talk. So, managers, please realise that the last thing your employee needs from you is motivation.

Many managers come to me because they want to become motivational. But I think there is a time, pace and track record that has to be achieved before you become a manager who motivates people.  

I have two more data points for you.  

Recently I binge-watched the second season of Manoj Bajpayee’s The Family Man. In this series, Bajpayee has left his Government job as a spy and has found a 9 to 5 corporate job. And his boss is super irritating.  

He breaths down Bajpayee’s neck and says this hilarious statement – Don’t be a minimum guy! My request to you is, please avoid these motivational statements. They are unproductive. 

I also saw a stand-up routine by comedian Anirban Dasgupta on HR and Motivation. He asked why does HR feel the need to motivate us on Sundays? And made this amazing comment that when employees get motivated, they quit!  

Motivating your employees can be done differently. I teach communication oratory and have done a considerable amount of research on TED talks and motivation. So let’s look at some suggestions that you can incorporate as manager.  

  1. If you are employees or team members are quiet and non-participative, they are definitely demotivated. You must understand there might be many reasons for this – COVID 19, economic downtown, confusion, problems at home, or issues with customers. Something must be bothering them. Your job is to be compassionate, kind and empathetic. Listen to their issues before spouting motivational quotes. When they see their boss trying to make an effort to understand their problems, they will feel more valued.  
  2. Employees will be charged if they find the work challenging and rewarding. So, if they are demotivated, maybe they are not challenged enough, or the reward structures are not strong. It would help if you rethought the work you are doing, making it more meaningful. Secondly, give your employees a chance to prove themselves, trust their decisions, and help them become as autonomous as possible. When you create an environment where employees feel free, rewarded and challenged, motivations go up.   
  3. Avoid breathing down their necks. Don’t be the person who constantly asks for status updates; it doesn’t work. Employees – anyone, for that matter – would hate it. You would get irritated if your own manager came up to you and told you a random story of an ant and a spider to motivate you. 

For motivation to come, as a manager, try to understand what’s the root cause of your employees’ demotivation, be kind and compassionate, and create an environment of challenging, meaningful and rewarding work.  

Watch the video on YouTube. 



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