Imagine that a child’s toy car is sat there on a flat piece of floor with no one around. Will it move? Is there any possibility that, without some sort of outside influence or force, that car will go forwards even a centimetre? Hold that thought for a moment.
Now consider the similarity between the words, movement, momentum and motivation. The common theme, of course, is the Latin root word, ‘movere’ meaning ‘to move.’ My point is that to get the toy car to move, you need to give it some motivation – the two ideas are, in principle, the same thing.
Let’s suppose that the car represents a worker in your organisation, someone who comes under your management umbrella – perhaps someone whose performance is your responsibility. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to try and be a positive motivator towards that person? In my mind, there would be two basic way to move the car. Give it a push or place it on an inclined surface.
Pushing your staff…
It’s interesting isn’t it, but even the words themselves ‘pushing’ your staff have an implication of not being very helpful. Using the car analogy, a push would certainly cause movement, but once the push has been applied, natural resistance to the forced behaviour (in this instance air) will soon come into play, and the movement will stop. This is not dissimilar to the result of managers pushing their staff, applying pressure and consistently chasing them along to try and force a destination that is not a shared goal.
This style of management is rarely effective and tends to engender resentment, lack of respect, confrontation and unwillingness to conform. Like the car, pushing may cause short-term movement, but it is rarely enough to generate any momentum or motivation.
It’s all downhill from here on in…
This is one of those phrases that has a dual meaning. In one way it can mean you’ve reached your peak and nothing will ever be as good as that moment again. The more positive version is that you’ve got through the tough part and from here on, it will be much easier. We are going to use the latter…
Simply by giving someone a lift, you will give them the opportunity to move forward. I’m not talking about flattery for praise’s sake, rah-rah chants in the mornings, or pretending that everything is hunky-dory when there are issues to be addressed, but simply sharing positivity. If you can’t motivate your team, there are only two possible conclusions: You are the wrong person for the job, or you have employed the wrong people.
Assuming that you have the right people in place, all you need to do is find the thing that lifts their spirits. What will get them focused on the goal, bring their vision in line with yours, motivate them to work hard, make them feel appreciated, remove their resistance barriers, create a sense of teamwork and compel them to move forward?
If you can’t answer these questions, why not ask them?
Movement causes momentum!
It is often said, and I totally agree, that a bad leader does more harm than having no leader at all. Going downhill (in the positive sense of the word) generates its own momentum, speed and destination. Standing still or pushing uphill against a demotivating force is hard work and will never get you anywhere.
If you can’t be a good influence, wherever you work, why not get out of the way and let the positivity roll on its own?