Why You Don’t Need to Motivate Your People

“If you neglect any one of the four parts of the whole person [Body, Heart, Mind, Spirit], you turn a person into a thing. A thing lacks motivation. You will have to control and manage this employee to motivate him or her. Effectively managing an employee requires that you treat him or her as a ‘whole person.’” – Stephen R. Covey

In How the Mighty Fall, Jim Collins posits, “If you have the right people, you don’t need to spend a lot of time ‘motivating’ or ‘managing’ them.”

So, the experts agree that it doesn’t take fancy compensation plans or elaborate rewards or threats to have a motivated team. What it does take is your willingness to build a culture that treats team members as “whole people” and the discipline to hire the right people and get them in the right seats.

Four purple flowers in a clear vase

How do you build a culture that nurtures each of the four aspects of a whole person?

  • Heart – This is social and emotional connection to others and passion and excitement for the work. Part of this is hiring the right people- the ones who already connect to your company’s Core Purpose and Core Values and are excited by the work that you do.

Hire team members that you want to spend time with and that your team enjoys, and they will feel connected socially. Give your team members the freedom to enjoy their social connections outside of work, as well.

Encourage them to spend time with family and nurture the relationships that feed them. Let your team members know that you care about their happiness, and demonstrate that you want them to enjoy their lives; some ways to do this could include offering to cover for them so they can be at important family functions or instituting more flexible work hours so that team members can be home when their kids get off the school bus.

  • Mind – Nurture your team’s minds at work by giving them the ability to use their natural talents and creativity. Getting people in the right roles where they are able to use their strengths is a big piece of this puzzle. Another consideration is ongoing learning and training; invest in sending your team to conferences or read a business book together and meet to talk about it once a month. Provide new challenges and learning opportunities to keep your team mentally engaged.
  • Body – This is about your team’s physical well being; it is about providing a comfortable and safe work environment as well as compensating your team for their work so they are not worried about meeting their basic needs and providing for their families. To truly build a culture where your team can thrive and not just have their basic needs met, learn more about nurturing your team members’ (and your own) physical health in the midst of your busy lives by learning about energy management from experts like Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz.
  • Spirit – The final piece to the puzzle is a connection to something bigger; your team should find meaning and purpose in their work. This ties back to hiring the right people, the ones who really “get” what you do and whose values are aligned with yours. You can foster a culture of meaningful work by keeping your Core Purpose and BHAG top of mind for your team. Help your team connect what they are doing on a day-to-day basis to longer term, meaningful goals. Coach them to think about the contribution they would love to makewith their work so that their spirit is fed by what they are doing.
    In your leadership role, building a culture where you don’t have to motivate people to work hard and give their best because they are intrinsically motivated starts with you. Are you taking care of yourself as a whole person and finding balance in your life? Are you connected to your mental, spiritual, emotional and physical needs and being intentional about meeting them? Or, do you constantly sacrifice social engagements, family time, exercise, sleep, time for reflection, and the things in life that excite you and inspire you because of the daily grind?

Is the culture you have built in your company something you are willing to protect at all costs by hiring only the right people? Or, are you quick to hire just to have warm bodies working so you can continue to grow?

Covey talks about the four parts of a whole person in the context of his 7th Habit – Sharpen the Saw. As a leader, if you can sharpen your own saw and set up an environment where your team is encouraged to do the same, you will unleash their potential and never have to worry about whether they are motivated again. You’ll all be self-motivated and your company will soar to new

Learn more about Scaling Up’s methodology