Four critical skills to advance your environmental leadership – Part II: Motivation Matters

Jennifer Schultz | August-26-14

In this post, you’ll learn how effective motivation skills can advance your environmental leadership.

Why does motivation matter?

Organizations are more efficient than ever before. You are expected to do more with less, and get it done faster.
But you cannot achieve success on your own. 
You’ll need to know how to work with others and motivate them to do their best work. This means:
  • sometimes giving up control and trusting others to accomplish an important task
  • understanding what motivates those you are working with
  • building relationships and fostering trust in the workplace 



Are you a good motivator?

Your may think you can bring out the best in others, but how do you know if you’re a good motivator?  
Ask yourself the following questions:
  • Do you try to understand what motivates those around you?
  • Do you involve others in how work will get done?
  • Do you provide opportunities for others to use a variety of skills?
  • Do you find it easy to recognize others when they perform well?
  • When you recognize someone for their efforts, do you make sure it’s a reward that the recipient values?


If you’ve said no to any of the above, you may need to brush up on your motivation skills. 

3 Ways to Improve How you Motivate Others

1. Understand Intrinsic Motivators

Yes, people work to earn a pay cheque, but they are also motivated by a number of internal factors. Knowing how to intrinsically motivate others is an effective way to do more with less.
So what motivates people? People are intrinsically motivated by enhancing their mastery, their autonomy and their purpose
People want to get better at things.
Enhance their mastery by supporting them when they are undertaking a difficult task. Provide direction and encouragement and listen to their concerns. If it’s a task they are confident in, encourage them to take a lead role and focus on removing obstacles and barriers to their success.
People want to control what they want to do and how they want to do it.
The first step to enhance autonomy is involvement. Involve them in the decision-making process, for example, if they need to do a task by a given time, involve in them in how that task will get done.  The second step is to empower. Encourage them to try new things and contribute their ideas, rather than passively take orders. 
People want to feel important and that their work has meaning.
Enhance their purpose by connecting their work to the big picture. Explain why they are doing it. Too often, we tell others what they need to do, without taking the time to explain why it’s important. 

2. Positive Reinforcement

People love to feel good about what they do. So don’t forget to tell them! And do it often.   
Recognizing good performance is one of the simplest and easiest ways to encourage people to do their best work.
It provides three major benefits:
  1. It lets people know that their performance is valued, and increases the likelihood that they will continue to perform well.
  2. It builds confidence so that people are willing to try new things, and develop their skills further.
  3. It costs nothing and the payoff can be enormous - highly motivated people are more likely to go the extra mile.



Reconigiton works best when:
  • It’s timely – recognize good work as soon as it’s done. The more time you wait, the less meaningful the recognition. 
  • It’s specific – recognize specific actions including communicating why they did a good job and why it matters. 
  • It rewards effort as well as successes – ensure that you’re not only rewarding the end result, but the excellent progress made to get there.
  • It’s individualized – recognize that person in ways they appreciate. Some people love public recognition while others would rather hear praise one-on-one.


Bonus! Use these two phrases often: ‘Thank you’ and ‘Can you help me?’


3. Invest in the relationship.

What sounds better: an unmotivated drone who counts down the seconds of their workday, OR a balanced, unstressed worker ready to take on the next big challenge?
To get the latter, you’ll need to invest in the relationship, whether it’s a colleague, an employee or a sub-contractor. 
Get to know them. Ask about their life outside of work, including their families and hobbies. And remember those details for future reference!
Respect them as real, individual people.  See them for more than just their job function. Act sincere and respectful, even when giving negative feedback. If you were in their shoes, how would you want to be treated? 
Give them opportunities to enhance their career, not just to a particular project you need. Get to know the skills they’d like to build and areas they want to develop.
Make it clear you’re interested in their work-life balance. Check in with them regularly to know how they’re feeling, including what’s happening outside of work. Watch for signs of burnout such as absenteeism and disengagement. 

Environmental Leaders Motivate Others to do their Best

Build your motivational skills by using intrinsic motivators, positive reinforcement and investing in work relationships.  What are other ways you can improve this skill?



Part II: Motivation Matters