Is Your Way of Motivating People Doing More Harm?

The Motivation Myth

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How do you motivate people? They say, being generous in compliments goes a long way. They say praises can motivate people right?

However, is this really true? Do people perform better when showered with appreciation? Today, we look at a different angle.

Does being generous in praises really boost up performance? Actually, when you closely look at it, there is a difference.

Try to imagine this scenario at work: Picture a team member who finished his task on time and did it well to boot. What do you say to keep up the good work?

  • Great work!
  • Thank you for doing this!
  • Wait ‘til the boss hears about this!
  • You were amazing in this!
  •  You’re really good!

At first glance, you may see nothing wrong about these compliments. They are after all positive right? And they are directed towards a job well done.

But what is missing really? All of those above looks like positive reinforcements, but do they do the job? Does it really bring out the best in the person?

When you look at it closely, all of these exclamations are quite vague.

  • Great work! – What was great about it?
  • Thank you for doing this! – You are appreciating what?
  • Wait ‘til the boss hears about this! – What will you tell the boss?
  • You were amazing in this! – How is the person amazing in this?
  • You’re really good! – Again, good in what?

It doesn’t reinforce the positive action done. It may even sound too generic. There’s no acknowledgement of what was done. Although seemingly, these are good praises, it lacks a motivational direction. So how do you put it?

“You completed your tasks before the deadline”.

Why is this better?

Recognition – It is a statement that is specific. The exact deed was identified.  It’s not just an empty sentence. It is acknowledged that there were tasks to be done and it was done before the deadline. What message does this send off?

To the recipient of the statement – the individual recognizes that his work does not go unnoticed. It’s not just an empty praise. They know what’s the nature of the task and what the deadline is.

Acknowledging what the individual did implies that they are recognized. Their contributions are verified. They will feel that people are paying attention to them.

It was clear why they were acknowledged, so they know what to work on. Since they understand that they are being watched, this is a good motivation for them to do better.

Delivering Acknowledgement –  One may argue that “You completed your tasks before the deadline”, lacks impact. While it does the job, it may not send the correct message.

When delivering acknowledgment, the tone you use also matters. Deliver it with a bit of energy. Deliver it with a positive tone.

The acknowledgement defeats its purpose when you say it passively. While the intentions are good, the recipient might just be confused because of the passive tone.

Also avoid using words that will make the acknowledgement about you such as “I”. For illustration, “I am amazed with you finishing the job!”. Do not direct the attention to you. Remember, this shouldn’t be about you or the others not involved.

Direct it to the individual. “You completed your tasks before the deadline”.  It is direct to the point who is concerned, “you” as the person who needs to be acknowledged.

Beware also of descriptions that could make or break the acknowledgement. “Your presented your ideas during the meeting clearly”. What’s wrong with this?

There is the presence of judging in this statement. It’s not just plain acknowledgement – there is a judgement call on how the presentation was done.

It was done ‘clearly”. This opens the floodgates of doubt. This can be a possible train of thought – “Prior to this event, have I been doing it wrong? Wasn’t I doing it clearly before that, that they had to take note of it now?”

Feedback System – An acknowledgement executed well serves as an effective feedback system also.  The acknowledgement has all the components needed – definitive and clear.

And most of all free of judgement. And as a recipient of the acknowledgement, this is an indication that your work is recognized and doesn’t go unnoticed.

Acknowledging yourself – Just the same, you should also acknowledge your contributions. Say the acknowledgement to yourself – clearly, as a fact, and no added extras.

This is a great way of reinforcing yourself as well. This way you can also be more motivated and confident in doing your task.

Importance of Acknowledgement

Leadership – A leadership that understands the role of acknowledgement is something to aspire for. Be the leader who understand his role in motivating his team.

Some leaders, though their heart is in the right place, may misguide the team with their way of motivation. They push people to do better and being quite vague with what they want to accomplish.

They may be guilty of using the sample motivational praises mentioned earlier in this article.

Doing the correct way of acknowledgement encourages the team to work better. It is established that the role of each person is understood and recognized.

With this kind of understanding, the team atmosphere will be more open. Because of the transparency and understanding of the work that need to be done – it creates a venue of openness.

With this kind of work atmosphere, the team members are most likely to work better. The tasks are clear, and understood by all. Understand how to do correct acknowledgement and see how things will unfold!

Doing Your Business – You also want a profitable business, of course. Do you know how acknowledgement can come into play in all of these?

Acknowledgement can also play a role in improving your sales. What do customers want? Being given attention to. Being listened to.

Positive acknowledgement makes your customer stop and listen to you. Aside from courtesy, you extend to them a feeling of positivity. You make them feel good about themselves.

Acknowledgement can also turn around a situation that has gone awry. A customer may feel upset over some detail, it happens. What can you do? Give the customer your undivided attention.

Upset customers want to be listened to. The moment you acknowledge the customer’s presence – that’s a milestone already. They will feel that you are not ignoring their concerns.

They want to be heard and giving them the right acknowledgement will surely be appreciated. They will feel prioritized and valued.

Acknowledgement done right goes a long way. It motivates your team to work better, even YOU can work better with it. It works well with how you conduct your business also and on how you interact with your customers.

Do motivation the right way and see amazing results!



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