Managers often try to motivate employees for a reason that’s de-motivating – so you’ll work harder – not because they care about you or your potential. When a leader does care about those things, it’s motivating.
Only a good leader cares about your needs as well as their own.
Just wanting you to work harder, even if it’s for the company’s sake, is a self-interested motivation. It’s not a balance that includes your needs. It’s de-motivating to meet the needs of someone who only thinks of themselves. It’s motivating to meet the needs of someone who thinks of their needs and those of others. Only a good leader cares about your needs as well as their own.
Influencing Your Boss
You can’t make your boss be motivated to treat you well but, just like they can with you, you can encourage, support and create an environment for your manager’s potential to come out. Don’t be fooled by their position being ‘above’ you. We all have lots to learn, and people at any level can lead.
There’s a lot written about good leadership that you can use from an employee point of view to lead your boss toward being a better boss. Here are some examples.
In an article called “How to Motivate Employees in Less That 5 Minutes”, Shari Alexandar gives a simple, clear list that I highly recommend getting into the hands of any manager you feel isn’t good at their job. It is their job, by the way (and not just a nice-to-have), to facilitate employee potential and contribution to the organization. That’s the only way an organization can maximize its potential.
Shari’s article includes 4 ways managers can be motivating:
- Communicate the vision
- Communicate how employees’ work fits into the vision and impacts the next stage or person in the process of achieving it
- Pay attention to what excites and motivates employees and include that in what you say
- Give positive feedback for steps taken towards the vision
All these things, employees can do towards their managers.
Communicate the Vision
Help your manager see how they’re part of the bigger picture – of what will motivate you and other employees. Describe the vision of how your workplace could be if employees were engaged. Talk about what companies with engaged employees achieve (e.g., google). Ask how your manager feels about the possibility. (This step gives them the chance to give feedback on the vision and so become more engaged in it.) Talk about what your manager does, or could do, that’s motivating to employees. Ask what they think motivates employees and validate the things that work. You don’t need to get into your managers faults here. Just treat the issue as you would any challenge that two people are trying to solve together.
Your manager may need you to let them know what motivates you. Instead of telling them you don’t like something they do, try telling them you love it when they do … the things that motivate you.
“I love it when I get to manage the whole task myself.”
“I appreciate your being supportive.”
“Something I really like about this job is when I get the chance to develop my potential.”
Even if your manager doesn’t do anything that motivates you, you can tell them what you love (what motivates you) about “a” job.
“It’s really motivating for me when I know my work is appreciated.”
Help Them See How Their Actions Contribute to the Vision
Your manager may get more engaged and interested in cracking the code of what motivates employees if she understands how doing these things helps employees feel happier and so more motivated – and that motivated employees increase sales, productivity and decrease sick time and turnover. Help them see how their actions fit into the big picture (of employee motivation).
Pay Attention to What Motivates Your Manager
Pay attention to what excites your manager. Look for keywords they emphasize in their speech and explain how motivating employees will help with that.
Give Positive Feedback
Give your manager positive feedback when they do things that motivate you. This way you can reinforce the good behavior, rather than cause resistance.
Calm, Caring, Assertive
Just as with the way they treat you, all these things will work better, the more you can learn to genuinely care about your manager as well as yourself.
Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer, says things that could also help people relate to each other well. He talks about calmly standing your ground until a dog fully relaxes into the behavior you want. It’s kind of like this, except that as humans, we’re equal. Keep standing in your self-worth and show your boss what kind of person you deserve to be treated as. Become a boss whisperer.