March 7


What increases sales by 20% and profitability by 21%?

I’m a golf nut, and my 14 year old daughter is my last hope of having one of the kids play golf (neither of the lads are interested).  

I’ve spent the last 6 years trying to get her into into it. All to no avail. Nothing I could do or say had any effect (including bribes!). The more I tried the less interested she became.


And then, last October, some of her hockey mates asked her to play. Much to my amazement she said yes, played with them and enjoyed the craic.  And now she’s self-motivated to play. I don’t need to ask her, conjole her or remind her. She just does it.

It just goes to show you can’t motivate someone to do something they don't want to do.

And what’s true at home is the same in the office.

You can use various levers to try to get people to do things. You can do the ra-ra bit, or go to the other extreme and threaten dire consequences.

Whilst these may get someone comply for a while, they don’t create the conditions for that person to be self-motivated to do their job.

And it slowly becomes a vicious downward spiral. The person doesn’t deliver, so you control and coerce even more to hold the person to account, and slowly you find yourself doing more, the person achieving less, and everyone becoming more and more unhappy, until the whole system has broken.

So, if you can’t directly motivate someone, what do you do?

You could start by googling “How do I motivate my team?”. You’ll get loads of lists like “25 things to….”; “9 super effective ways to…”

They’re helpful ideas. And I’ve used them in various forms. But they all miss the point. They’re actions you do to people, stuff you throw at the wall and hope sticks without understanding why it might make a difference.

Let’s take a different perspective: Why did my daughter take up golf when everything I had tried was unsuccessful?

The trite answer is because she enjoys it.

But why’s she enjoying it? There are three connected reasons:

  1. She started playing with people she likes and whose company she enjoys
  2. She’s getting a sense of accomplishment from improving, from hitting the ball better
  3. I’m not telling her what to do and when to do it - she’s in control – she chooses when to play and practice and who with.

And those reasons for self-motivation apply equally in the work environment as they do outside work. However, they're more formally known as ...........

The three fundamentals of self-motivation .....

  1. Relatedness - do I feel connected to what I'm doing, why I'm doing it and who I'm doing it with?
  2. Competence - am I able to do this successfully or efficiently?
  3. Autonomy - do I have a feeling of control over what I'm doing?

If I can answer yes to those three questions, then there is a high likelihood I'll be self-motivated to do whatever is required.  

One of your jobs as a leader is to make sure each of your direct reports experiences these three conditions. 

Your other job as a leader is to build your business operating system around these so that everyone experiences them regardless of the skills or knowledge of their direct line manager. 

That’s the more difficult challenge and you should expect it to take time, dedication and focus to bring it to life in the business. 

Why bother?

How about because it helps the individuals become more engaged at work, enjoy what they do more, and be self-motivated to do the right things?

Not enough for you?

How about because it makes your working life as the leader significantly easier and more enjoyable?

Still not enough?

Gallup studies show that businesses with high numbers of engaged employees have 20% higher sales, 21% higher profitability, and 17% higher productivity than those with low numbers!

We’ve designed our Entrepriseurial Growth System around these three fundamentals, and use it to help our clients build businesses that are more enjoyable to lead and deliver higher profits and returns.

Get in touch if you'd like to find out more - email me at 


Employee engagement

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