Performance: You can’t motivate the unmotivated

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Watching the 2008 Olympics, you would be hard-pressed to find any other group of individuals more motivated to win.

Does that statement also describe your employee team? Is your team the most motivated team in the industry in which you compete? A motivated work force doesn’t just happen.  It starts first with the corporate culture, and then the responsibility moves to the employee.

First, make sure your culture is in order.

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I won’t spend time on corporate culture other than to say it’s important (and obvious) that successful growing companies work hard to build a corporate culture that is supportive, nurturing and focused on performance and continual improvement. If you as a manager and owner have not succeeded in doing this, then please add that to your “to do” list today.

The above is an obvious statement for some, but for others, working on developing a healthy and productive corporate culture isn’t given a second thought. These business leaders simply let culture take care of itself. Please note, the presence of a healthy and productive corporate culture does not happen by accident. That being said, the rest of this article is going to assume that your company has done a great job of creating a corporate culture that is supportive, nurturing and focused on performance and continual improvement.

Be promotable.

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I’ve always said that a person becomes their title before they’re given it. That is to say, you earn greater responsibility by demonstrating the performance that is required of you at the next level. Act the part, and you’ll earn it.  It’s also true that no matter what type of environment you’re in, good or bad, you need to perform as if you care … as if you are a highly motivated team member even if you’re in a poor environment.  If you are in a poor environment, perform well, put your best attitude and performance forward, and then leave when the right opportunity comes around…with your reputation intact.

If on the other hand, you are a business leader in a great corporate environment, and if it’s clear you truly have an unmotivated person on your team, you need to recognize that you can’t motivate the unmotivated. You must replace the unmotivated person, or the rest of your team will suffer. The old saying about the chain only being as strong as its weakest link really is true.

Can’t motivate the unmotivated.

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If you’re a sleepy organization, then unmotivated is fine, but if you’re a high-performing organization, you need highly motivated people on your team. Win or lose, it is always exciting to work with highly motivated people.

Take the Olympics. The energy is palpable. Why is that? Simply put, all of the athletes are highly motivated. The Olympic committee is highly motivated. The advertisers and promoters are all highly motivated. Working with motivated people is fun, and it creates positive energy for the team, department and company.

Assuming you’ve created a culture that is supportive, nurturing and focused on performance and continual improvement, do not keep someone on your team if they don’t share that same passion.

Can’t educate the unmotivated.

If someone is unmotivated to learn, to read, to put in the extra effort to improve themselves, then you can’t educate them. The drive has to come from within them. If it’s not there, there is nothing you can do to put it there for them.

Can’t make the unmotivated care.

Business is competitive and challenging enough, so why complicate things further by having people on your team who are unmotivated and don’t care?

No matter how much mentoring and encouragement you provide to an unmotivated individual, their performance won’t improve if they’re unmotivated. Maybe they think they’re better than the job. Maybe they think the work is boring. Or, maybe they’re in the wrong career. Whatever the reason, if they’re unmotivated and don’t care, you won’t change them.

Do yourself, your team and them a favor, and make them available to others in your industry.

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