Full-Scale Motivation ... Maybe?

Maybe we are overthinking this whole "Motivation" thing ...

I have been reading about motivation since my graduate school days, practicing various approaches to motivating others in every setting I find myself, and am familiar with the best-known theories about what moves and influences us.

I know that money and "perks" are nice, but sincere and distinct praise is better.

I understand that each person is motivated in a unique way based on  personality, background, and values.

I fully grasp that our strongest motivations come from within us, rather than from any external place or person.

Like some of you, I am currently trying hard to keep up with the informational fire hose that is the annual WBECS Pre-Summit series, where a large number of excellent and value-filled short presentations are available at no cost to those of us who identify as coaches, especially business, executive, and leadership coaches. This prelude to the Full Summit program next month, in my opinion, is the single best source of current learning around effective coaching from a global perspective.  

I am amazed at how much I get out of the Pre-Summit alone ...

Earlier this morning, I was listening to Darelyn "DJ" Mitsch, author of the recently released Zombies Into Zealots discuss her current and upcoming work. She identified Love and Fear as the two basic underlying drivers of human behavior and used the phrases "Spiritual Intelligence" and "Be Yourself" around the growing understanding that we must deal with the whole person, rather than just the employee part of that human being.

Her comments spurred some thinking about how all this might be injected into ongoing discussions around motivation, from this proudly non-recovering Humanist who idolizes Carl Rogers and believes in a spiritual element for all human relationships.

Maybe this whole motivational thing could be as simple as:

First, decide to treat employees like fellow human beings, rather than role fillers.

Then, seek to see employees in their wholeness:  Take the time to understand what moves and shapes them, not just at work, to complete a task, or ply a trade, but as human beings, with physiological, emotional, economic, psychological, cultural, relational, biological, and even spiritual needs.

Finally, create workplaces that honor and support each person to the maximum extent possible by engaging with their whole person, not just the employee. Take the work-life balance concept a bit further.

Not exactly the transactional approach where we are always concerned with what we receive for what we give, but I find this direction resonates with me. If I were in an organization that did this to motivate me, I would respond quite positively ... but that's me.

This approach is far different from what I have experienced in the workplace, since it requires us to tread into the realms of spirituality and psyche, not familiar ground for most managers or leaders, outside the broad organizational context.

The religious overtones which accompany the use of the term "spiritual" are often problematic in organizations ... it doesn't easily fit within many business cultures.

Having worked in religiously-affiliated organizations some, I know first-hand how difficult it can be to address spiritual aspects of an employee. I imagine any HR folks reading this are having a bit of a swoon right now.  

So let's talk honestly about what works and what doesn't work!