Whether you’re dealing with a business partner, work team, spouse, or friend, keeping motivation high usually means significantly better morale and productivity. You can use different things for this purpose depending on the circumstances, but generally speaking, most people will feel pretty fired up if they have these three basic elements.
1. Proof of Past Success To Build On
When any good businessperson looks to invest their time and energy, their biggest concern is whether there is proof that the investment is going to produce a return and that they can mitigate the risks associated with that investment. Individuals tend to look at themselves in very much the same way. If someone doesn’t have some evidence that they can reach the finish line, then it’s all too easy to let their imagination run unchecked with all the things that could go wrong and bail. They then worry not just about their abilities or competencies but also about whether they are impactful to someone else.
So if you want to motivate someone, don’t just tell them you believe in them. Be specific about why. Give examples of projects or behaviors that let them outdo their competition in the past, identify what they’ve learned or become able to do that’s going to benefit them in their future work, and connect the dots between all their successes so they can see they have a consistent, reliable pattern going, rather than a one-off.
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2. Evidence That Adequate Support and Mentoring Will Be Available in the Future
Even if you convince a person that they have the skills and knowledge necessary to do something well, they might hesitate because they don’t trust that they’ll have the resources that support what they want to do. These resources can be everything from mentors to loan programs and testing equipment.
The key here is to make the support feel close and real. To do this,
• have others verbalize their commitments or roles to the person you want to motivate in person or in writing,
• provide a reasonable amount of data that projects what will happen with programs, assets, or goods,
• openly discuss potential hurdles and what to do, step by step, if and when those hurdles occur,
• let the person talk to others who have had success under similar circumstances,
• allow the person to physically see, touch, and test what they have to work with, and
• develop multiple contingency plans so that the person you want to motivate knows they have alternatives to turn to.
These strategies can help a person to feel much more confident that their support is sufficient or that that support won’t disappear when they need it most.
3. Clarity Regarding the Person’s Goal, “Why,” and the Steps Necessary To Get There
When a goal is ambiguous or hard to define, it’s much harder for a person to feel confident about moving forward, because they’re not sure if they are applying their skills and knowledge most effectively. Nailing down a specific “why” behind the goal will help the person focus on the benefits reaching the goal will bring. It also helps center them around a larger sense of purpose. By outlining the series of steps necessary to reach the goal, it’s easier for them to know what resources to obtain and what the appropriate pace is. It’s also easier for them to hone in on some milestones they can reward themselves for and monitor and share progress for accountability.
Motivation is rarely constant. But you can encourage others to keep going and work hard by hitting on the three points above as consistently as possible. And if your own motivation wanes a bit, take a moment to see if you’re lacking in any of these areas. If you are, don’t hesitate to communicate your needs to others.