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It’s likely that every manager has had many of those days where she can barely suppress raising her voice to say, “Because I said so!” Human beings are often baffled by how other human beings behave in situations that, to them, seem like such no-brainers. “Of course you would go the extra mile to make the customer happy.” “There’s no reason not to treat our suppliers with respect.” “I can’t even imagine not returning an email within 24 hours.” The list is endless and leaves managers tempted to think, “What do I have to do to motivate my people to do a good job?”

But is motivation even the point?

We confuse our duty to manage for results with motivating others. If you don’t realize only others can motivate themselves, and if your company doesn’t always create an environment where people can engage in meaningful work and use their talents, and if you don’t remind yourself that your job is to create results; then no wonder you think you need to motivate others in order to, “Get them to do what I want.”

The secret to achieving high levels of performance is to make workers responsible for their work and their results.

Once you’ve established your company’s purpose and vision, communicated your values, recruited talent whose strengths are suited to your team, designed meaningful jobs and measurements, established a track record for rewarding accomplishment, and set the priorities, you’ve taken responsibility for your role as a manager. If you haven’t performed these duties now would be a great time to start.

When one of your workers isn’t performing, the cause is much more likely to be a lack of responsibility for results than a lack of motivation.


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