The Wrong Question

Felix Thomson

Content Executive

The Financial Services Forum

Motivation is obviously a key factor at work, but Keith Hatter argues that too many companies and managers look at it from the wrong perspective.
How often have you listened to someone explain or offer advice on different ways you can motivate others? Then there are the countless magazine articles offering similar advice, and small armies of motivational speakers who will do the job for you. Not forgetting the in-house versions, doing their passable impressions of David Brent up and down the country.
It has become accepted wisdom that it is the responsibility of some people to motivate others – and that raises a number of questions. As teams grow, how is one manager or leader supposed to motivate everyone? Who motivates the people at the top? What about all those people who work for themselves or are home based – who is to motivate them?
But this assumes that individuals have insufficient internal motivation, and it encourages a lack of responsibility – after all, if it’s someone else’s role to motivate you, if you’re not motivated then surely it’s their fault, not yours. Like Wallace and Gromit’s wrong trousers, “How do I motivate my people” is The Wrong Question. It should surely be “How do I get my people to motivate themselves?”
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