02 Oct 2006
Posted by Kiran

Motivation is a key ingredient to an individual's performance and subsequent success. Sans motivation, the effort can only half-hearted and the outcome mediocre.

I got the opportunity to see first-hand the performance of a demotivated team and I was taken aback by what the lack of motivation can do to an otherwise outstanding performer. A person whose innovative ideas and energy drove the entire team to strive for success, suddenly transformed into a sluggish robot going through the motions of the daily chore called work!

We were all in a severely stressed out situation and I personally don't blame the folks for losing their focus and being "demotivated". However, this situation also served as an opportunity to compare how various members of the team took up the same challenge. Some of them seemed to be energized by it while others started dragging their feet.

This made me wonder: what is it that motivates people to do their best? Or rather, what is it that each of us should seek as motivation to do our best? Should it be the anticipation of the resulting reward? Perhaps the opportunity to learn something new? Or maybe the challenge that will help us hone our skills?

There is no straight forward answer to the question "What motivates people?". At least I don't have one. However, I do now know that the perception that their efforts have gone unnoticed or unappreciated immediately demotivates people.

As a manager, I found this situation very tricky to handle. Most of the time, there seemed to be a vast difference between the individual's perception of how he/she had performed and my own assessment of how the task could be performed. There always seemed to be a gap between expectation and accomplishment.

One thing is clear though: any individual's focus has to be on the job at hand. And by "the job" I mean the task that is in front of the entire team and not just one individual. If an individual's efforts are focused towards the goal of getting that job done, I am sure he/she will be appreciated by one and all. More often than not however, outstanding performers lose out by having too narrow a focus.

We all need to start looking at the bigger picture. Everyone of us fails at that at some level or the other.