“You cannot motivate anyone to do anything,” I observed. Martin was stumped.
“But I thought that was part of my job,” he protested.
“You can think that all you want, but it is not possible,” I continued. I could see in Martin’s eyes that he was conflicted between what he thought and his real experience trying to motivate his team members.
“Well, you may be right,” he finally replied. “Sometimes it seems easy to get people to do what I want, but other times, it seems impossible.”
“When it seems easy, what do you think is going on?” I asked.
“When it seems easy, it’s like they already wanted to do it in the first place.” Martin paused. “It seems impossible when they didn’t ever want to do it.”
“So, it doesn’t seem to matter what you want, as the manager, or how badly you want it. The only thing that seems to matter is whether your team members want to do it?”
The lights were circling in Martin’s head. The whole time, as a manager, he looked at motivation as getting people to do something he wanted. His mind was beginning to change.