Is there someone you work with who could use a little motivation? Could you use a little motivation? You can’t motivate someone else if you can’t motivate yourself and, frankly, we could all use a little motivation sometime. Too often we think of motivation as money or a promotion but intrinsic motivation comes from inside and is powerful. How can you leverage findings about brain function to connect with intrinsic motivation? There are five ways to aid your brain or other’s brains to feel motivated by feeling rewarded.
Today, let’s look at control (we’ll examine other approaches in upcoming posts). The brain likes to feel in control so take advantage of it. There are two ways to use control in your favor.
You are in control of more than you think you are. I was excited to be in a new job and looked forward to contributing to the organization. But I soon discovered that my new boss was a control freak (to be fair, so am I) and my motivation suffered. After venting every evening to my husband and lamenting that I’d taken the job, he encouraged me to look for areas where I could exert some control. And I found that he didn’t care much about our conference planning process so that’s where I jumped in. We reworked the process, implemented a new approach and I felt motivated because I now had an area of control. Do you suffer from a boss who won’t share control? If so, you need to dig deeper. Where can you exert a bit of control? Look for areas where your boss has little interest and jump in. Taking control is likely to have a motivating impact.
You can give up control of more than you think you can. You may be stifling motivation by being overly controlling. Give others a sense of control to activate reward feelings. If you’re feeling queasy about releasing control, don’t worry. You don’t have to give away full control. You might release control of the process but retain control over the final product. Can you provide a range of options from which they can pick? You could ask for input on a big decision which makes the brain feel like it at least has a say. You might break a project into parts and give over control of the less risky elements. For a client who is unconvinced of the merits of a project, you could ask them to set a trial period to define the parameters for moving forward, or define when to pull the plug. It puts them in control of part of the work. Where can you hold on less tightly? You can give up control of more than you think you can.
Whether it’s you who needs more motivation or someone on your team, push yourself to find ways to take or release control. The brain will be happy you did.