Motivating the Unmotivated - Part 3

Updated: Nov 26, 2020

Welcome to the final article on Motivating the Unmotivated. Once you have completed a self-audit and reviewed the various reasons why someone might be unmotivated at work, the next step is doing something about it.

This is going to sound like common sense, but knowing and acting upon what you know are two different things. You can very well understand a person's situation, but unless you take action to move them into productivity then it really doesn't mean anything does it? And as a manager, the quicker you can move that person back into productivity and feeling like they have a purpose, the better for you, them, and the team.

The first step is to prepare for a conversation. Here is my list of how to prepare

  • Review what I discussed in Part 1 and Part 2. As you review these areas and start to get a sense of what you feel the issues may be, then prepare for the various responses and approaches on how you both can get things on track. NOTE: This is only what you think might be the problem, you won't know for certain until you have the discussion.

  • You also must be prepared to shut your mouth and open your ears, or you are only going to hear what you want to hear or what you assume to be the case, instead of what is actually being said. Set your intention that you will not only hear them, that you will listen.

  • You also need to prepare to hear things you may not like. You may find that things are going on with your team or between people that you didn't know about. Or, you may find that you did something that was off-putting. The only way to prepare for this situation is to make a commitment that you will listen and not become defensive. You may have to take it on board and let them know you will come back to them once you have had time to think about their feedback. Walking away to think clearly, is much more appropriate and reaps better results than becoming over-emotional.

  • Lastly, prepare how you are going to approach the subject. You should be working with everyone on your team close enough to understand each person's personalities and how they like to addressed when having a difficult conversation. Some people will prefer the direct approach, "I am sensing that you aren't really happy about being at work right now, am I wrong?" or "I feel like you are lacking a bit of motivation. What's going on and how can I help?". Some people would prefer a softer approach. You may want to start the conversation by asking them how they are, what's going on with them, and that you wanted to check in and see if there is anything they needed help with. If that doesn't get you anywhere you will need to be more direct.

The next step is to have a conversation. The key-word is conversation, which means you both talk and you both listen. Well, let's be honest, once you get the ball should be doing a lot of listening. You must enter the conversation from the perspective of doing the right thing not only for the company but for the person you are speaking with. And sometimes, that means you need to hear things you don't want to hear about yourself and others. Other times, it might mean that you have nothing left to offer them other than a positive and constructive way for them to leave on good terms. Don't be fooled that just because you ask the question of what's up, that you will get an answer or a complete one anyhow. You may need to ask probing questions so you get more details out of them. Ask them to explain further, provide examples, or repeat back to them what they've said and ask if you have understood correctly. The best way to get them to open up, though, is to listen with empathy and kindness. Don't jump to conclusions or emotions, no matter how uncomfortable you may be.

Next is to create a plan. No matter how the conversation goes, you should be able to create some form of plan to help the other person get out of their slump. It may be simple and straight forward or it may be a long and detailed plan. The plan shows the other person that you not only care about them but that you value them enough to want to keep them around. It goes beyond just talking, it puts the conversation into action and will make a huge impact not only on this person but the team. Keep in mind that you might need to be creative when coming up with a plan.

Let's use a simple example. Let's say the lack of motivation is stemming from being in the same role for many years and they've asked for an opportunity for more training in order to branch out and help the team move forward. That is reasonable and helpful for your team's future, but what if you don't have any training budget? There are various ways to provide training with little to no expense. You can use MOOCs, podcasts, and books for more traditional methods. Or you can utilize on the job training, mentoring, or coaching to increase skills. My point is that just because you don't have the budget, doesn't mean you shouldn't work towards providing the training.

Finally, you need to put the plan into action. Again, common sense, but what's the point if you don't take action? Do you really want to put this person back onto a productive path or not? Along with putting the plan into action, you need to build their confidence, constantly check-in, and reinforce the positive actions or steps. Once you see they are making a move back to being engaged, then you can start backing off on the special attention...but don't drop the plan until it's finished!

Does all of this mean you might have to take on a bit of extra work? Yup. I want you to keep in mind, this person could end up being your most productive team member if you handle this correctly. Also, your team is paying attention and that will bolster and build your credibility with them two-fold. Even if this is a situation where both of you agree that it's time for them to move on, if you handle it correctly and professionally, they will be a fan forever. And you never know who that person knows and who they are talking to, they too, maybe become your most productive team member.

What did you think of the series? Was it helpful? Leave your comments so we can discuss them!!

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