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You Can’t Motivate People, You Can Only Create the Environment So People Can Motivate Themselves

As a leader, you need to be able to motivate people, to get the maximum output you can from the team and budget you have.

One way to do this is to define a strategy in isolation, carve it up, and assign pieces (or accountability) to different people to get done.

You can then apply pressure (perceived as negative or positive) to motivate individuals, such as imposing deadlines to get things done according to plan, creating unhealthy competition between people or teams, or offering bonuses for executing the plan successfully.

When it comes to offering bonuses, I'm not saying competitive compensation is not an essential part of the picture. I am saying that a bonus culture alone in isolation is not enough to overcome a suboptimal work environment. It should be an "add," not the end all and be all if offered.

All of these attempts to motivate do not last and don't create enjoyable workplaces.

Instead, I recommend ensuring you have a flexible, trusting work environment, pay competitively, support career advancement, and involve everyone in the strategy from the beginning.

Spend time explaining the problems to be solved and how you reached these conclusions to the entire team, and let the team devise ways to solve the problem.

This creates ownership and shared context that transcends any project or strategic plan you can make.

An environment where people trust each other, can experiment, have a say, and have the complete picture of what's going on is one that can create motivation that is rewarding, empowering, and self-sustaining.

Motivating individuals brings temporary results. Investing time in creating a motivating work environment and culture pays off again and again.