When you believe you are capable of something, aren’t you more motivated to do it?

I remember a college instructor who believed in me. He made me believe in myself. So, I entered a speech competition. I screwed up. I forgot what I was saying in the middle of my speech … then I kept going. I didn’t give up because I knew I was capable. Now I speak for a living. Leaders need to be like my college instructor.

Human motivation requires knowing you can master skills by continuing to learn. It’s called: COMPETENCE. When we feel competent we are more likely to do the things we need to move toward success. That’s what I did when I screwed up my speech. I paused, took a deep breath, found my place in my speech, and then continued. I placed first.

Promoting competence in the workplace means leaders need to remove obstacles for their employees. Stop saying, “There isn’t money in the budget”, “We’re all need to do more with less right now”, “Figure it out”,  and “I’m too busy”. Saying things like that gets you unhappy and unproductive employees at best. Even worse, it will get you demotivated or burned-out employees. Do better.

  • Be available and accessible
  • Switch your thinking from what you can’t do to what you can do
  • Listen more by seeking to understand
  • Have candid conversations

Leaders need to give employees opportunities to learn. Humans grow their competence when they learn and practice. If employees are stagnant, they become complacent. This is a slippery slope into demotivation. Try these:

  • Assign a task that stretches an employee’s skills
  • Reinforce what employees do well
  • Ask employees to find a better way to do things (e.g., a process)
  • Offer professional development opportunities (I can help you)

Finally, leaders need to coach. Instead of solving your employees’ problems, help them become their own problem-solvers. You can:

  • Ask what their goal is.
  • Ask what they have tried.
  • Ask what worked and didn’t work.
  • Ask what they think is the next best step.
  • Phrase your suggestions into questions like “What do you think would happen if …?”

Motivate before passion evaporates.

P.S. In my book, G Factor: 8 Secrets to Increasing Your Gravitational Pull at Work, employees say coaching instead of directing is the fourth highest characteristic that makes them trust leaders and want to work with them.  It’s called Guide G Factor. Here is a digital mini-course if you are intrigued.