Why can not I motivate them?

ESEUNE Business School Weekly Article

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Enrique de la Rica

Enrique de la Rica has a Bachelor degree in Information Science from the University of the Basque Country ( Spain), where he studied the Ph.D. courses in Communication Studies. Enrique got a MBA from Eseune Business School (Bilbao, Spain). He has done postgraduate courses and specialization in different institutions, such as the Executive Business Program at Georgetown University (Washington DC, USA).


According to the Center for Creative Leadership 40% of the managers fails in a period of less than 18 months and that 50% of CEO in less than three years. Because the task of directing is not so simple as many people think. Because a thing is to "manage" and other one is to "lead".The management implies knowledge (finance, managerial control, marketing, contracts, international markets …) that can be studied. The director demands skills that are not taught in any book: the skills are needed to work with people.

An important part of the success (or fail) of a manager is determined by the level of motivation of the people with whom he works. A motivated team has staffs with major satisfaction by their job, with better interpersonal relations, more communicative, innovative and always ready to offer an excellent service to the clients. It is essential for any company to have a motivated team because the motivation level determines the productivity, the sales, the innovation and the results.

In any organization, sooner or later, some of our valuable workers will decrease their motivational level. In that time the person in charge of the team will have to “rescue them”. For it, the manager has to assume five roles: the observer, the investigator, the doctor, the communicator and the psychologist.

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First role: the observer

As an observer who controls a safety area, the first skill that the manager has to promote in his team is the anticipation capacity. In our case, to identify people who could enter lack of motivation phase. What are the symptoms?

A manual does not exist on this matter. Every person is different: some begin for coming late; others make pessimistic comments, others simply demonstrate it with their body language …

The person positively motivated feel enthusiastic, energetic, agile. Their comments focus more on the possibilities than on the limitations. They try to do a little more than it is expected from them.. There are a lot of small things that can alert us of a lack of motivation! The manager has to anticipate before it is too much late.

Second role: the investigator

When the first lack of motivation symptom appears in a person, the manager has to design a “rescue program”. The following step consists of identifying the real reason of the lack of motivation of a person and it is when the manager acts as an “investigator“.

The reasons of a lack of motivation can be external or internal. In the first one, the factor that has decreased the motivation level is out of the company (in his personal life ) so the role of the manager will be the “advisor“ one. But if we determine that the cause is related to the work, the manager has major responsibility, so that “the rescue” becomes effective.

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Third role: the doctor

Every case is unique, but it is always necessary to identify them before initiating a "treatment". Is time of assuming the role of the doctor: auscultate the patient, then express a diagnosis and select the best treatment.

Of course, it is possible to leave that decrease of motivation alone, because later he will be motivated again. But also it is true that when we have determined this lack of motivation and that there is a problem for resolving, it is better not to postpone it.

The fourth role: the communicator

Fortunately, to rescue a demotivated team does not need a complex solution. Sometimes it is enough with one: the communication.

It is necessary to try to remind to the person that he is a big value for the company and, at the same time, tell him that his attitude is different from the usual one. The manager has to appear like open-minded, communicative, and impartial person.

Fifth role: the psychologist

In any case it is very important that, once the worker has been honest and has told the manager the causes of his lack of motivation, it has to be the worker who realize that his attitude damages him and also the team.

And if the worker is so demotivated that he does not want to propose solutions, what can the manager do?

Very simple: the manager has to act in an intuitive way. The manager has to propose him how his lack of motivation state could end, but using intuitive sentences or questions.

An important step is that at the end of the meeting, both have to know clearly what are the actions that are going to take and what have to do each other. Also it is important that both know how is going to evaluate the development of the person (in which parameters). There must be very specific, concrete, measurable and temporary agreements.

Also this is fundamental: feedback. Often, with the only fact of speaking with the manager, if the person feels that the conversation has been sincere and that the manager has focused more on the progress of the person than in the criticism, he will change quickly his attitude.