After a few days together on an employee course, we gradually open up to ourselves and to those around us as we put aside our masks. What comes out of our mouths is less clichéd and less woolly, and we start to mean what we say. Consequently, the discussion that arises around our work and why we work is especially interesting, not to say scary. Many of those I meet consider work a necessary evil. It’s not as if they’re never happy at work; indeed, they can find their work both enjoyable and stimulating, but generally speaking it’s unsatisfying. “If it wasn’t for the money, I’d…”
Wage slave is a term that often comes up in such discussions. Not in any bitter sense, but more as a statement of fact. “I work because I have to. Sure, there are good moments, but on the whole it’s pretty tedious.”
No surprise, then, that a motivating manager is high up on the yees wish-list.
Towards a motivational manager
Motivate your manager
Leaders are people of flesh and blood. They have limitations; they can be tired, make mistakes, get depressed, and forget things, just as we employees do. And since they’re not omnipotent, they need backup. If there are faults with their motivational leadership, you can always improve matters by showing them what to do. Listen to your manager, and ask her what it is that gives her a sense of purpose at work. Help her to think about what she really wants. Perhaps your manager has worked at the company for a long time. Perhaps he’s a completely different person than the one who was first employed there. What is it that motivates him to continue?
Reinforce your manager’s motivating behaviour by giving him or her praise. We all need a verbal pat on the back when we’ve done well.
Say what motivates you
We create our lives from a set of elemental values that we have somehow accepted and assimilated, values such as success, freedom, love for another, justice, security, tolerance, etc. Our values play a decisive part in shaping our ideas, our judgements and our behaviour. They also make us aware of what we’re striving for as they constitute mental images of what we want to achieve. What we do – our actions – only become meaningful once they become a means towards a particular end and when this end is seen by us as worthy.
Having reasoned thus, we could say that meaning only exists where we create it, and that meaning is dependent upon our convictions of what is valuable.
We can obtain motivation in the form of brief “uplifting emotions” when a comic does a stand-up routine about workplace stereotypes and makes us laugh at ourselves. Or when a famous football coach talks about the teamwork behind the success. These things give us little temporary wings to fly with. However, a more profound form of motivation has to do with your fundamental values and the goals you set up to achieve and develop whatever it is that gives your life meaning.
During your conversations with your manager you must try to convey as many of your values as possible. This will give him or her a chance to understand what motivates you.
Behave as an equal
Talk to your manager as an equal. Just because you have different roles at work doesn’t mean you have different statuses as human beings. Ask your manager to set up reflective dialogue meetings and talk about workplace motivation as adults. “What is it that motivates us here?”, “What are we lacking?”, “What do we need from each other?”, “What do we need from the manager?”. This involves us all in a genuine, honest way. It motivates.