An unmotivated team member is usually also a team member that has lost sight of the bigger picture and has been ground down by constant pressure to the point where they no longer enjoy their work.
Focus on the big picture with stories, ideas and actions
A demotivated team member has usually lost the urge to care about the company’s overall position and is wondering ‘what’s in it for me?’ By reinforcing the bigger picture you offer a point of context for where the team member’s contribution fits in. It also helps in other working environments – when pitching an idea to a client, or when presenting an idea to managers.
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The bigger picture is usually thought of as the overall company direction, and while this is only one version of the way a story can be used to get others enthused, using this as a starting point you can start to present a personalised story to enthuse.
Beginning, middle and end
An interesting technique that can create massive buy-in from employees is to paint the picture of a story in progress. You can highlight their current position, work output, and level of skill as the beginning of a story. Talk to them about how they see themselves and where they want to get to (the end) and you can have a very engaging discussion about what it takes to fill that gap in the middle. This is the kind of bigger picture that can give people a real boost from a rut.
Removing enthusiasm blocks
There’s a view of motivation that is less about building up the individual and more about removing the things that stand in their way. Sometimes those blockages are attitudes; sometimes it’s a poorly designed workflow or a colleague that is difficult to work with. This approach to motivation assumes that everyone is inherently motivated and ‘learns’ not to be when that motivation is not rewarded, or worse still, punished over time. Using the power of story and context you can start to reveal what these blocks are and you can work with someone to help them achieve their maximum.
Action comes before confidence and motivation
The common thought and attitude of people who are lacking motivation is that one day they’ll be struck by that lightning moment that then gives them the energy and enthusiasm to turn it all around. Confidence makes everything seem more possible, and easier – but waiting for it can be really dangerous. Taking action now is a much more effective way of building confidence. Change the way you think, change the way you act and don’t leave confidence to chance. This is something you need to master yourself – to be able to help others.
The feeling of no control is really disempowering to people. By continually highlighting where people can have control and influence the outcomes of their working life, you give them confidence and a clear path to action. That is a very powerful, motivating thing to do for those around you. Those that are really disenfranchised will resist and argue against ideas you present for them to take control, such is their learned helplessness, but keep at it and you will have a motivated colleague and a more productive team.
Eve Ash, psychologist and CEO of Seven Dimensions, has produced over 500 business films, including some hilarious comedy films (www.7d-tv.com) and is a widely acclaimed public speaker (www.eveash.com).