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Motivating the Non Motivated

How do we motivate the Non Motivated? As a new manager, i'm finding this a bit of a challenge. There are some in the team who have no problem going that extra distance, who clearly care about what they do, and then there are some who just dont seem to care. I was always highly motivated and worked hard to always be improving myself and what i did, so its difficult for me to understand those who dont follow that lead and i'm just struggling a little with what to do about it.

This is definitely a difficult challenge. My question would be this: are they unmotivated to do the normal tasks or are they unmotivated to go the extra mile?

I ask because sometimes when we are high achievers we expect everyone else to be as well. If they are performing the job, at least at the minimum then I'm afraid there is nothing that can be done. While you may see more potential in them, they have to see it in themselves.

If they are not performing up to minimum expectations then you have a performance issue that needs to be addressed. Not fun, but necessary.

Hope this helps,

I just recently tackled this issue with a new report. She was constantly unmotivated to start new tasks and happy to do the minimum. It became apparent that there was some resentment issues coming from her working for someone younger and feeling she was going backwards in life from her previous position. Facing it head on and addressing the issue had a great impact and she changed her attitude.

This is exciting to hear Caren. Often times these folks just want to know that someone recognizes what is going on & takes the time to listen. By addressing the issue you are acknowledging her struggles but also making it clear that this type of behavior cannot continue as it is not profitable for her, the team or the organization. The best thing to do in these situations it to make sure that we don't make it personal.

Right now in my department I have been able to witness the lack of motivation, or the decrease of motivation. I am a new manager, I have been on the job for 1 week, but have been in the department for 7 years. I know first hand what caused the decrease in motivation, yet one particular person seems set on not improving. So, I am hoping that by showing her that I support her and the good work that she does and that she is a vital part of this department, that she will improve her motivation.

I think this is a great approach to have. And yes, hopefully by working this individual & showing her the respect you have for her, she will improve in the area of motivation. Just as a precaution, remember it is dangerous to want something more for someone than they want it for themselves.

I agree with you here. Some people are content with working just hard enough to get the job done but are totally unconcerned with going the extra mile. This doesn't mean that they aren't productive, just that they aren't going to put themselves out there as much as you might have in their role.

Yes and these folks are so hard for those of us who do constantly strive for the extra mile. We tend to look at them & say they aren't doing the job, when in reality they are. Just maybe not to the fullest extent we would like them to.

I am a new manager to my department, but have been employed at my institution for 2.5 years. Some of my staff members were my colleagues when I first started (and are now my direct reports) and some are brand new employees that I hired myself. I find that sometimes the office is divided, as some of the newer team members feel there is no motivation from the other half. I think they sometimes feel that the "vets" in the office don't care as much. I try my best to foster a team environment, come up with projects that include everyone and to encourage my team members to get to know one another. As a new manager, I learn more and more everyday that my job duties encompass much more than just checking things off a to-do-list! I must devote a good amount of time to coaching, giving feedback and getting to know the individual needs of my staff.

This is definitely true & also very challenging when we were formerly peers with these individuals. Keep at it!

Dr. Ryan Meers

Yes I understand how could you feel, overall what I found it helps to mak the ones not to go that extra mile is to coach them and evaluate their performance on a positive manner. If after all the hard work still they show lack of interest or productivity then I know is time to correct the issue.

I agree that we always want to try the coaching path first before resorting to any type of punitive action.

Ryan Meers, Ph.D.

Team projects are the most effective way to promote unity in the department. As i coach my staff, I ensure that the over achievers give my less motivated individuals and opportunity to shine. THis encourages the less motivated staff to participate.


yes, these well managed team projects can be a great way to build unity.

Ryan Meers, Ph.D.

I have found that build burn build works best in motivating people. This means that you start off with a positive or a compliment, then you address the situation at hand and end with a positive.

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