Self Motivation & Self Drive, that Fighting Spirit

Its already July, as our company follows the calendar year as our financial year, using a soccer analogy, it means its HALF TIME.

It is a perfect opportunity to analyse our performance and check the score. Just as in a competitive sports at half time, a coach gives instructions, making sure its understood and agreed by the players, picks up the mood in the dressing room, with some rah..rah…sends the team out to play for glory in the 2nd half. For the last few weeks, I was doing just that, going thru performance reviews with every staff member of Firebrand in Asia.

Once play starts in the game, its down to the quality, commitment, motivation and drive of the individuals and the team to make it happen.

A  successful entrepreneur I know, once told me “…. growing a business and managing people is easy if you hire smart, self driven, self motivated people ……”. Sounds like common sense.

Assuming we hire smart people (or smart enough at least, we can’t all be rocket scientists or be the guys in the Big Bang Theory), which is easier to assess, then the secret sauce here is motivation, which is harder to identify. Using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a basic theory, how do we constantly and consistently get our staff to do what is required to perform above expectations?

In my experience in leading and managing people and self reflection on my own motivations, I realize we are all wired differently, here are some of my observations:

Some are highly self-disciplined, clear & focused minded, self-driven individuals that have their own inner source of motivation. They just power thru and soldier on regardless of what happens around them. They know what they want and they go and take what they believe is theirs, in some cases to the point of blind ambition. It could be any or all of these things – MONEY (how much is enough? answer: more!) and the nice things that come with it (branded things, swanky enviable lifestyle, financial freedom), climbing UP THE CORPORATE LADDER (the power, respect and the prestige of having the title and responsibility) or JUST NATURALLY COMPETITIVE (the need to be the winner, the alpha male/tigress).

Some need external inspiration. A Director of a recruitment company I used to work for, encouraged us to get in debt…”yeah go buy that apartment/house…that new BMW 3 series looks good…” and to BUILD THE DREAM he would offer his brand new Porsche as a prize for a weekend for the top performer of the quarter. The idea is, if an individual is in a comfort zone and not goal driven then he/she will just auto-cruise. Just going thru the motions day after day and relying on their wits, skills and talents to deliver mediocre work. So, give them a reason (in this case, debt!) to get out of bed with a zing! Sometimes, IMPLANTING A DREAM (…sounds like the movie Inception, doesn’t it?) works 🙂

Some need external motivation from the environment around them (group goals, a condusive TEAM ENVIRONMENT). These team players need to feel the love around them and all striving together for a higher mission.

Some just need a sobering WAKE UP CALL and hard kick in the pants! Get your act together, this is the last chance saloon, the last ride in this rodeo….etc

The trick to motivate someone is to know who needs what when. However, if the motivation is gone, it’s a case of the lights are on but no one is home, then its time to look for something else to re-ignite that fire. Zombies are no fun to work with, you can bring a zombie to flesh but you can’t make him eat (a macabre version of bringing a horse to water…..).

So, bring on the 2nd half of 2011, game on!

Picture courtesy of Maslow for his triangle.