Crossing the Finish LineOne of the issues that rears its head time and again with clients is the issue of motivation and how it factors into just about everything we do—from hiring people to getting things done.  It is an indisputable aspect of success and yet one of the most difficult qualities to assess or to maintain.

Let’s take hiring, for example.   I’ve done a lot of it over years and if I’ve learned one thing it is this:  You have to start by hiring the right people, and you cannot, cannot, CANNOT supply motivation.  It is not a commodity you can lend, nor should you, so you have to make sure it’s a quality the candidate already brings to the table by screening for it in the hiring process.

Motivation and Hiring

I can hear some of you thinking you may know better, and maybe you do, but I haven’t seen supplying motivation work—ever—so based on that, here are a few questions I use to get to the heart of the motivation issue, and they’re helpful during any hiring process regardless of the position you have to fill.  Of course, you also have to know what you’re listening for, and that’s a bigger conversation than space allows, but this gets you started:

1.      Describe the work environment or culture in which you are the most productive and happy?

2.      How do you like to be managed?  Or, what actions or behaviors do you respond to best?

3.      What motivates your best performance?

4.      Describe a time or a situation where you went over and above to get the job done (…or closed a sale or whatever best represents the job you’re filling).

5.      What did you like least about your last job?

6.      When was the last time you struggled to complete a …task… assignment… close a sale… whatever, and what did you do to overcome it or push through?

7.      Tell me about a time you failed, and what did you do about it?

The above are various ways to get at the same information, but this is my tried and true question that never fails me:  What did you do to prepare for this interview?  (Here’s a hint:  “nothing” is the wrong answer.)

Also, ask about prior work experience (look for a hard worker who got promoted a lot), ask about interests outside of work (motivated people are motivated not just about work, but about life!). Motivation is related to resiliency (you want someone who stays focused despite the inevitable obstacles.)

Motivation and Accomplishing Long-Term Goals

It’s ridiculous how easy it is to lose focus when attempting to accomplish goals, especially long-term goals, so here’s the short list on making meaningful progress:

Maintain your focus on goal-directed actions.  Every great task is accomplished through a series of small steps, so write down not only your goal—make it proximal, specific and challenging—but why achieving that goal is important to you.  Subdivide your goal into specific short-term goals/steps with timeframes for completion.  And make your goals challenging.  Otherwise, they’re neither interesting, nor will you accomplish them.  Keep an eye on the ‘”why” in the equation because when you’re up to your ass in alligators, you want to remember not only that your primary job is to drain the swamp, but also why risking your ass is worth it.

Control your emotions.   Failure is part of the equation, so use it as a learning experience rather than a setback.   Time and again I see clients caught up in the emotion of the failure, and then paralyzed by doubt, anger, and more.  Waste of time.  Don’t get caught up in any of them.  Accept the failure and move on.  Sure, get mad, get frustrated—and then get over it and look at why the failure happened.  Be honest.  Then fix the problem.

Pace yourself.  Don’t try to get too much done too fast.  Artificial deadlines are a breeding ground for mistakes.  So control what you can in terms of timeframe, because there will be plenty of things you can’t control during the process.  And don’t burn yourself or your staff out too early.  Be realistic, but not afraid to push periodically or when necessary.

Celebrate.  Brag about it, take some time to yourself, work out, or buy something you always wanted.  Whatever works.   Celebrate the milestones… then aim for the next one.   Rest, replenish, and then repeat.

If you follow these simple techniques, you will have a much easier time with the hiring process, and keeping motivated to achieve your goals.

Did we miss something? Do you have a best practice to share? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.