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  • Writer's pictureOzge McAree

Just because someone can do the job doesn’t mean they will do the job.

“Personally I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms. So when I went fishing, I didn’t think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted. I didn't bait the hook with strawberries and cream. Rather, I dangled a worm or grasshopper in front of the fish and said: "Wouldn't you like to have that?" Dale Carniege, How to Win Friends and Influence People

Carnegie shares this anecdote in the chapter that discusses how to “arouse in other people an eager want.”

This includes when you want your employees to do something.

Let’s face it just because someone can do the job doesn’t mean they will do the job.

According to Carnegie, “the only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.”

Why don’t we use the same common sense with our teams? Why don’t we remember that it’s not about US, but about THEM.

It’s about what motivates them. And most people often ask …

How do I motivate my team?

If this is the question you want answered, then you are asking the wrong question.

Your employees are already motivated. The question you need to ask is ...

“How Do I Unleash my Employees’ Motivation?”

We can’t force our ideas on others. We need to make them want to be part of it.

So let’s start by not trying to motivate your employees.

What is Motivation and why do people do the things that they do?

Motivation is the simple science of pain versus pleasure. All decisions that human beings make are to either gain pleasure or to avoid pain. This is the one simple fact we need to remember when we are trying to unleash their motivation and that it’s not about US, but about THEM.

How Do I Unleash my Employees’ Motivation?

It’s always difficult to know what others need unless we ask.

So ask to understand.

Ask questions.

Ask about their needs.

Ask about their frustrations.

Ask until you understand specifically what they care about.

Always remember the power of questions. Ask, listen, learn and make sure you can answer the "why" question effectively.

Listen With Your Heart

Do we understand what it really means to listen? Do we know what it means to listen with our hearts?

Most people listen with their mouths let alone ears. So often, when people speak to us we want to jump in to give our advice. Our feedback. Or even our judgement?

We want to talk back because this is human. Because this is how we connect. So often we find ourselves asking a ton of questions. Fixing, lecturing. Simply just interrupting.

But to be able to fully listen, we need to listen with our heart.

And How Do We Listen With Our Heart?

We need to develop and expand our ability to concentrate and pay attention.

But you’re probably excellent at multitasking. Afterall, this is how you manage to get a lot done. You can check your emails while having a conversation with one of your employees, right?


Whilst this is not how listening in its simplest form is done but research has shown that our brains are not nearly as good at handling multiple tasks as we think they are. In fact, some research suggests that multitasking can hamper your productivity by reducing your comprehension, attention, and overall performance. Jeong S-H, Hwang Y.Media multitaksing effects on cognitive vs, attitudinal outcomes: A meta-analysis. Hum Commun Res. 2016;42(4):599-618. doi:10.1111/hcre.12089.

Millions of dollars are lost every day in businesses simply because of poor listening. Poor listening leads to assumptions and misunderstandings. These lead to errors, ineffective decisions, and or costly mistakes.

This deteriorates trust and weakens communication even further.

According to Richard Branson, “Listening is one of the most important skills that anyone can have.” Founder of the Virgin Group says much of the success that Virgin has had is because of quality listening.

Therefore, to learn about the people and tap into their individual unique motivation, to arouse that eager want, we need to listen.

Listening is the sincerest form of flattery and shows the deepest form of connection.

Motivation is Individual and Not One Size Fits All

Lets’ say you have a new project, and you need two of your team members to tackle it.

Lisa and John.

Lisa is more motivated by gaining pleasure whereas John is more motivated by avoiding pain. You meet with Lisa to discuss all the positive outcomes of this new project and get her pumped and excited. Lisa is driven by ambition. She is focused will stop at nothing to get the job done.

Her positive reaction gives you every confidence that she will achieve this. And of course, you give yourself a little pat on the back for your ability to motivate people. After all, you believe it was you who motivated her. So you’re a great leader.

You then speak to John about the new project in the same way you spoke to Lisa about it.

You wait for the same enthusiastic feedback you received from Lisa however instead you are confronted with a “So what” attitude from John.

So you walk away from your meeting with John thinking “He can’t do this job. He is just not motivated.”

Is it that John can’t do this job or he won’t do this job?

He isn’t motivated or is it that you focused on what isn’t important to him rather than what is and as a result, you failed to unleash his motivation.

John is motivated by avoiding pain. He doesn’t care so much about how many more opportunities this new project is going to bring to the company. He cares more about the now and holding onto what he currently has and minimising anything which may jeopardise that. So he needs to be told that this new project is crucial in helping his company to hold onto their current market share. If it isn’t successful, they could start losing their customers.

What motivates John is to protect what he currently has.

Remember just because someone can do the job doesn’t mean they will do the job.

Be a leader and encouraging others to talk about themselves and their needs.

Be a good listener to find out what motivates them. This is the only way to win people to your way of thinking.

You never know, some may be fond of strawberries and cream too.

Wouldn't you like to have that?

Ozge McAree


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