Motivation is not something you do to people. People ultimately choose to be motivated, or not. They decide when to give their best, go beyond, and offer ideas.

The role of a leader is to create and shape the environment and conditions, so people choose to stay motivated and do their best work. A lot of managers don't understand this concept and try to 'motivate' people through doing things like 'Drive-by praise' and squeeze recognition into busy schedules through popping by and saying things like 'great job on xyz,' to check the box.

The shortfall with this type of approach is that it serves the leader who’s giving the praise, not the recipient. If you want to show good intentions in a more meaningful way, consider asking people for the story behind how they accomplished something significant, or acknowledge the toll it must have taken on them regarding a substantial contribution.

As a leader, your primary job is to create a recognition-rich environment in which people choose to give their best. And that starts by serving the needs of others, not your own.


Inspired by: Harvard Business Review - What Not to Do When You’re Trying to Motivate Your Team, by Ron Carucci