How To Keep Your Team Motivated

I remember taking a motivational interview training a few years ago and our trainer said something during one of our classes that has always stuck with me:

“You can’t manufacture motivation.”

This is a powerful statement. I naively thought that I could motivate someone to do something given a lot of perseverance and persuasion, but the truth is, that person needs to produce their own motivation. Once that motivation is started, however, you can act as fuel to develop and ignite that flame for your team member. Until that motivation exists, an uphill battle will persist.

What types of motivation exist?

Two types of motivation can drive employees: intrinsic (internal) or extrinsic (external).

Internal motivators are things like inner drive, purpose, feelings of accomplishment, or anything that the employee identifies as something that produces a sense of fulfillment.  External motivators are things such as increases in salary, bonuses, or any rewards identified from the employers’ perspective.

Dan Pink’s TED talk on “The Puzzle of Motivation” argues that extrinsic motivators are only effective in the case that there is a clear path or if technical/mechanical skills are only needed. Extrinsic motivators lose value when creativity and uncertainty come into play.

Can extrinsic motivation have a limiting effect or even diminishing returns towards the outcome?  Pink argues that intrinsic motivation is much more powerful – doing things because they are meaningful, we feel like we are making a difference, and we feel that the work we are doing is important.

There are many ways to build intrinsic motivation within your team, including:

  • Have your team design their rewards. By creating their own reward for a job well done, the team will be internally motivated to work towards that goal.
  • Encourage your team. Having the team identify issues and helping them break down or overcome barriers may lead to greater success.
  • Challenge your team. Push the team members outside of their comfort zone so that they can grow personally and professionally.

For more on this topic, Pink addresses motivation in his book, Drive.

Jackie is a full-time pharmacist and career coach at TheHappyPharmD, where she helps pharmacists live life by design. She loves her family, changing the world and the profession of pharmacy.

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