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5 ways to motivate others

5 ways to motivate others

3 min read
  • Leadership & teamwork
  • Motivation, Resilience & Growth Mindset

How can we best motivate others? Are previous strategies outdated and no longer relevant? What actually works best? Fortunately, research has now emerged that can better guide us in our quest to answer these questions.

There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that the old traditional ‘carrot’ v ‘stick’ approach will not work. Essentially, motivating someone with rewards can reduce intrinsic motivation. Likewise, motivating someone with the fear of punishments may provide short term compliance, but can reduce creativity and enhance the fear of failure. So if that doesn’t work, what will motivate others? 

1. Master your own motivation

By leading from the front, you can motivate others around you effectively through your actions alone. Research in business leadership from King’s College London, has shown that a leader who is highly self-motivated allows their workforce to join them in their pursuit to achieve success.

Other research suggests that motivation is contagious, with people working harder when they are surrounded by like minded individuals. This is why it is so important to surround yourself with a good team.

2. Find your ”why?” and change your “how?”

Occasionally we are doing tasks for the wrong reasons. Is it about showing off your skills or mastering a new area. Is it about proving or improving yourself? These questions are closely linked to developing a growth mindset.

Equally, if a task isn’t going the way you think it should be, it may not be a case of working harder, but working smarter. One way might not be the best way for you personally, or just as importantly, the best way for the people around you. Leaders in the workplace, have found that by being creative and understanding your team, you can devise different ways to complete tasks in a more effective and rewarding way just by changing your ‘how’.

3. Treat everyone as individuals

The individuals you’re trying to motivate will have a range of different personalities and therefore multiple motivators. Understanding the people around you will allow you, as the motivator, to get the best out of each person in a range of different situations. Take time to understand the people you’re working with and to create spaces where people can get to know one another better.

Improve teamwork, collaboration and problem-solving in your school with training that will get your staff working together towards the same goals.

4. How will this help them in the future?

Evidence suggests that by taking just three minutes to explain why a task will help someone in the future, they are much more likely to invest time and effort into it. This has been found to be true in a range of different environments. This would suggest that we have been doing lesson objectives wrong. It is not just the ‘what’ that we should be covering, it is the ‘why’.

5. Set realistic yet challenging goals

When trying to motivate others, leaders can use this principle to increase the chance of positive outcomes. Research from the University of Illinois has shown that setting goals correctly can help increase the motivation of students in the classroom, by improving concentration and focus, which in turn encourages them to partake in challenges and have a more positive attitude towards the class. For even more tips on setting goals, check out our blog, ‘How to Get Goal Setting Right’.

About the editor

Bradley Busch

Bradley Busch

Bradley Busch is a Chartered Psychologist and a leading expert on illuminating Cognitive Science research in education. As Director at InnerDrive, his work focuses on translating complex psychological research in a way that is accessible and helpful. He has delivered thousands of workshops for educators and students, helping improve how they think, learn and perform. Bradley is also a prolific writer: he co-authored four books including Teaching & Learning Illuminated and The Science of Learning, as well as regularly featuring in publications such as The Guardian and The Telegraph.

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