Whose Responsible for Motivating Employees?

We all want more motivated, engaged & productive employees. My friends at BesslingWhite recently published 4 Requirements for Solving the Development Puzzle, and in it they list Motivation as their 4th point. “Motivation; Organizations can provide development resources and managers can coach, but without personal commitment, employees’ development efforts may amount to “going through the motions.” All employees come to work each day with a unique blend of personal values and goals (although they are not always cognizant of these drivers). Employees who are clear on what matters most to them are better able to manage their professional growth and maintain momentum when new skills aren’t easy to apply or obstacles arise. This is often the forgotten ingredient in development initiatives.”


In order to get people to be motivated to do anything, especially employees in a professional context, you’ve got to inspire them to want to achieve something of more significance than their current state. Ideally, to borrow from the phrase above, you’re working with employees who “are clear on what matters most to them”, because only then are they better able to manage their professional growth and maintain momentum when new skills aren’t easy to apply or obstacles arise. Unless someone is clear on what matters most to them, it will be impossible to inspire them to motivate themselves. Yes, you read right, it is NOT an external forces’ responsibility to motivate someone, but rather to inspire someone. Motivation is an internal attribute that is present when someone is inspired, and it’s extremely powerful when that inspiration is relevant to where that person wants to get to, and or is directly linked to what matters most to them.


All 4 requirements listing in the article are indeed important, and in my work I’ve found that the most difficult is always that last one. Training, feedback & coaching are all a process that you (an external resource to the employee) can control. However, while you are a catalyst in an employee’s motivation, you are definitely NOT in control of it. I felt this needed to be highlighted as too often it is overlooked.

The Learning Pyramid

To compliment the 4 requirements of development, and if you want to super accelerate employee development, than once you’ve nailed the 4 basic requirements, instill a practice whereby employees teach others & you will see motivation exponentially increase, as well as development, engagement and commitment across the board.


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