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The Importance of Tapping into Intrinsic Motivation

Tap into Intrinsic Motivation to Make Everything Else Easier


Have you ever put any time or thought into the individual needs of every member of your team? Oftentimes we don't do that. We tend to think about blanket needs or we assume that people are motivated by and need the same things that we do. And that's just not true. Every individual on your team has something unique that motivates them. And you can do all you want, extrinsically or externally using good old fashioned carrot and stick methodologies to try to motivate people.

But that's never going to do the work that truly knowing someone, knowing what their individual needs are, and then leveraging that knowledge to help them get what they want as a motivator. Here's a classic example, I often hear sales managers say, "Oh, they're salespeople, so of course they're money motivated" And those same sales managers then throw incentives and bonuses and extra commissions out there in an attempt to motivate those sellers to sell more.

And then they wonder why that doesn't work for everybody. Often it's the misperception, but more often, is that the sales manager herself or himself would be motivated by extra money. Salespeople are people first, before they're ever salespeople and they are intrinsically motivated the same way that all of us are by individual needs and interests. As a professional H.R. staff person, manager, leader in your organization, it's your responsibility, your obligation to give individuals what they need so that they can flourish and grow and so that they can be motivated to give you back what you need and what you expect from them.

And it isn't all that hard to do. It starts with simply getting to know the people on your team, paying attention to them, seeing what they respond to, noticing when they're struggling and taking action to help them move through that period. This is about putting people first, and it's something that will make an incredible difference in your workplace culture and in the engagement of your employees.

When you're growing plants in bales of straw, just like when you're interacting with people, it's really important to consider the individual needs. The individual needs of every single type of crop, in fact, every single plant or every single person. And I realized this extended metaphor may take a moment to wrap your head around, but bear with me here because I want to fully explain it all the way through.

See, in my straw bale garden, I have positioned bales of straw in different places.

Some closer to the building are going to get a little bit of shade, and those plants need that shade. Some plants and big long rows are all the same, not the very same plant, but they have the very same kinds of needs, and these are the ones that are going to get bigger soaker hoses that provide more water. And I've grouped them accordingly, so that their individual needs can be met. I plan ahead for this, it's not accidental and I watch and I learn about those plants, so that I can improve each year how I position them and what I do for them.

And it's the very same thing when it comes to the medium I used to plant them in. I do some experimenting last year, I put tomatoes in dirt and I put tomatoes in straw bales. I wanted to see which ones would produce the most and it turns out the ones in straw bales did. So this year. All of my tomato plants are in bales of straw. You don't know what the individual needs might be until you learn and experiment.

Even all the research that you can do might not be exactly on target in my case with straw bales that such a new hobby for people that I don't think there's all that much research out there, especially from my particular climate and conditions that are available. You do this already. If you do any kind of gardening, you know that some flowers require sun, some flowers require shade. This hanging basket hangs in the sunniest part of my yard, because these beautiful flowers, they close up at night and they only open up on the days when it's sunny, and since they're so beautiful and I like to see them first thing when I wake up in the morning, I have them positioned strategically so they get what they need and they give back to me what I'm looking for.

When you think about the individual needs of a plant or a person, it also includes things like: How much space do you give them? How do you group them? What other types of people or plants are nearby? And are you looking closely at each and every plant to see early on if they're experience any sort of difficulty?

When I see little holes in the leaves of some of my plants, I know that that might mean some kind of bug is coming around. And I've got to sprinkle just a little bit of powder on there, organic, to make sure those bugs don't find this to be a friendly environment. I try to stave that off ahead of time. I plant onions around the edges of the straw bales on top because many bugs, Japanese beetles included, don't like onions.

And so even the small green onions that won't take up a lot of space can help me to prevent bugs from coming in. But I can't assume that that will do all the work. My individual inspection, my attention to the individual needs of every plant gives me the best opportunity to make sure that those needs are always being met. It doesn't make me someone who's a crutch to other people, it makes me someone who shows concern and care. And when I've invested in them, they also are going to do their very best to take care of their own needs.

Ultimately, when you take care of your crops, when you take care of people the same way, you're going to get more out of them because you put more into them and you'll be able to do all sorts of things that would never be possible. You won't have the volume of output, you won't have the quality, if you aren't investing time and effort into people the very same way that you have to invest time and effort into anything that you ever want to grow.