Career Advice - The Secret Key To Motivation

by Ramon Greenwood - Date: 2007-04-20 - Word Count: 466 Share This!

The ability to get things done through other people is the greatest skill you need to become a successful manager.

That's easier said than done. In fact, managing the activities of others is the most difficult task in the world. After all, each human being has a mind of his own. Furthermore, the idea of depending on others to get things done is inherently at odds with the traits normally found in successful people such as confidence in one's own ability, controlled urgency, assertiveness and a yearning for control.

But if you crave success, you have to accept the proposition that you must learn to do less of the assignment at hand yourself and spend more time motivating others. The fact is a manager can't motivate people. In the real world, people have to motivate themselves. The manager is most likely to accomplish his responsibilities as a motivator by providing an environment in which motivation can happen.

Here's the secret key. This environment exists when people are working in an organization that provides satisfactory answers to one simple question that everyone has on his or her mind: What's in it for me?

The answer may take many forms, but it will usually have to be made up of one or more of these ingredients:

Money is the most obvious answer to the basic matter of self-interest that drives us all.

Money represents the power to buy the necessities, as well as the "good things" of life. It means security and prestige. It provides a yardstick of success.

Respect and recognition combine to make a set of highly prized rewards. Mary Kay Ash, who built a merchandising power house by creating opportunities for people to motivate themselves to success, declared: "There are two things people want more than s*x and money; they are recognition and praise."

People want to be rewarded by having work they can enjoy doing and take pride in.

Everyone wants to feel what he or she does is important as an individual with influence over the outcome.

Parachutes used by U.S. airmen early in World War II were failing to open five times out of 100 jumps. Obviously, nothing less than perfection could be accepted. Repeated attempts to motivate parachute packers and inspectors to do a better job showed little results.

Finally, the workers motivated themselves to 100 percent quality when they were required to jump from airplanes wearing one of the 'chutes they had packed.

People will motivate themselves to do good work when they feel they have an opportunity for personal growth and advancement.

People have a strong incentive to motivate themselves when they believe they have a hand in determining the purpose of their work.

What's in it for you when you master the skills of motivation? Success as a manager with all the rewards that it provides.

Related Tags: motivation, career advice, career counseling, career success

Ramon Greenwood, Senior Career Counselor for Common Sense At Work, is a former Senior Vice President of American Express. To subscribe to his f*ee semi-monthly newsletter and blog please go to

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