Have you ever hit a game-winning shot, scored the game-winning goal, or converted the game-winning touchdown?
How about setting a new Personal Record for swimming, running, biking, car, quad, or motorcycle racing while taking first place?
It feels good, doesn’t it? As a matter of fact, there are few things in life that will ever rival those feelings of accomplishment and the adrenaline rush that ensues. For the rest of your life, those moments will be remembered and often relived as you just love to tell those stories. Athletics have the power to evoke such an amazing feeling because they bring together a few main things in one place:
- Competition – No one is letting you win or succeed. Actually there are plenty of people hoping you fail so that they can win instead.
- Recognition – When you have the ball, or the wheel, or are on the track, it’s up to you. All eyes are on you whether it’s because you’re doing well or failing. When you succeed, they’re all cheering for you!
- Public Pressure – You are not behind closed doors. As I pointed out in my blog asking Are you putting yourself out there for criticism? public pressure forces us to be good or embarrass ourselves trying.
- It’s not easy – By definition, if everyone could (or even wanted to do it) there would be no competition. You worked hard to acquire the skills and talents you have, that brought you to that moment of victory. In other words, you’re doing something you are good at.
- Exclusivity – You’re in front. Everyone else is behind you. Only 1 person can be in that position.
So what does that have to do with employee motivation and business building? Everything. If you can understand and appreciate that feeling and those emotions, you understand what motivates people.
Though I used sports as an analogy there are parallels to this feeling of accomplishment throughout our lives. Here are just a few other ones so you can see the universal appeal of accomplishment:
- Getting the girl (or guy) – Especially if you had to take a risk to do so by approaching a stranger and your buddies were watching.
- Closing the sale – Especially if you’re paid on commission and you’re in competition with either yourself to do better or to be the best in your group.
- Buying a house or car or something of great value – Generally this provides a major sense of accomplishment as not everyone has the ability to do this (except for a few years during the mid 2000’s when anyone could get financed).
- Winning a competitive bid – You proved that you are the best and it felt good.
- Making a profitable stock transaction – You bought low, sold high, beat the market odds and beat all the “experts” while doing it.
- Getting recruited – Instead of being “hired”, someone actively and aggressively sought you out because of your talents.
The list can go on and on… My underlying point is simply this – If you, as a leader and manager, can find a way to bring Competition, Recognition, Publicity, Exclusivity and a Challenge to your business, most people will rise to the occasion and LOVE their jobs because of it.
If you can remember back to those 2 hour practices, or twice a day camps in the summer (3 runs/day at cross-country camp), it was not always easy, fun, or painless. As a matter of fact, the majority of the time it wasn’t fun at all. However, human beings are generally willing to sacrifice and struggle through all of those obstacles because the rewards of success, particularly the feelings that come along with it, are worth it.
Again, though I use sports as my analogy, this lesson certainly isn’t limited to the sports arena so don’t let that prevent you from getting the point.
The other day in my office, I started to ask some of my team about their experiences with sports. Even the ones who “sat the bench” understood what I meant by that great feeling of accomplishment at hitting the game-winning home-run. Ironically, the one who admitted to being the bench-warmer instantly latched on to our current inter-office competition. Every day she gets so excited about it she tells me about every single customer she signs up for this program and then “trash-talks” me for not getting as many as her. She’ll even walk into my office to receive a high-five to commemorate her latest score. Talk about fun and excitement at work! What may be most impressive, is that for all intents and purposes, her job is “secretarial.” Something most of us would never consider to be competitive or exciting.
Let’s take this concept one step further. According to Marcus Buckingham in his book “First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently,” the primary motivator for most people at their job is not how much they make. The primary reason for someone leaving or staying at a job is their relationship with their direct superior (remember that coach you hated or loved?). Take a moment and recall some of your favorite stories about your life. How many of those were directly related to your income at that time? Even your stories of accomplishment at work are rarely simply “I got a raise.” The accomplishments you made to get that raise are what makes for a great story and the true sense of accomplishment. The raise was simply the reward (i.e. winning the game) for showcasing your talents.
So to take this concept full-circle, compensation should be tied to these competitions and other measures of success. This is why I’m not a fan of an hourly wage. An hourly wage does not incorporate a single one of the 5 items that motivate people to make sacrifices for success. Admittedly, several of my team members are at least partially compensated hourly. The biggest problem with this is obviously that it breeds complacency. Once you’re used to getting that $10/hour, you are no longer motivated to keep working hard to get it. It’s a given; it’s guaranteed; all you have to do is show up. What kind of motivator is that???
Great coaches, great leaders, and great managers find ways to motivate their team members to do their best by rewarding them for their talents.
To your “motivational” success, Bryan
P.S. Since you’re the coach of your team, make sure your competitions and motivators encourage both individual and team performance. ER9Y2V4W6YK5