Motivation – what do I want? (1 of 2)

In Productivity and motivation, Uncategorized on February 7, 2011 by Tim Aikens

How often has your boss, supervisor or leader come up to you and asked you what you really want to do with the rest of your life?  I’m not talking about career or just the family, but about the broadest concept of the rest of your life.  Most of us have dreams of what we would like to see or do or become.  Indeed, if you look at a lot of famous people a common theme that applies to many of them is the dream that they had from an early age.

Now, let’s move back into the less exciting arena of work.  For most people a career or job that is exciting, satisfying, well paid, good promotion prospects and a good work life balance is hard if not impossible to find.  Even at a senior level there are many who have no real satisfaction in their work, driven more by the need to pay the mortgage or from fear of the sack or redundancy.  Going into the workplace is rarely fun and leaving at the end of the day a huge relief.  For many thousands, clocking off at the end of a shift is the best thing that happened that day.  How do you motivate an office cleaner, a road sweeper?  How do you generate real pride in their work after all the usual tricks have been tried?  I believe that if people are turning their big dreams into reality they are likely to come to work significantly motivated.’

Here I must confess to being heavily influenced by a book I read just before Christmas – The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly (Hyperion Books). The book tells the true story of how an organisation started to pay attention to and help staff with their very real dreams and the business success that emegerd.  The company engaged a ‘Dream Manager’ to help staff turn their dreams into reality.  Compare two members of staff, both doing a fairly mundane job.  They both have dreams outside of work.  One talks to a good friend who says  let me help you turn this into reality, whilst the other holds his dream in private and keeps on wishing.  Six months later one set of dreams is becoming real, the other still just a dream.  One man comes into work with a spring in his step a willingness to work and engage.  The other sees no change and no reason to change!

Does it work?  According to the book it does!  From my own experience, looking back at times when areas of life outside work have taken a major upturn, there has been a commensurate rise in desire to do well at work.  Looking at situations where I have been able to inspire groups of staff to head towards their dreams, there has been a noticeable upswing in motivation. I think one reason why large organisations have social, sporting and other clubs is that it helps staff work out some of their dreams, some of the inner desire of  ‘what I want’.

Would it work in the UK?  I’m not totally sure about the concept of a paid Dream Manager, but I am sure the principle is correct. whenever you pay attention to staff as a manager (in a positive sense!) there is a lift in spirit.  But what if, as a leader or manager, you started to pay attention to the dreams of your staff, they saw you were taking an interest and willing to help!  Put yourself in the shoes of the worker. How would you feel at the end of the day as you think to yourself  ‘funny thing  today when I opened up to my boss and told him about our dream to own our own house – he’s agreed to help’?  Uplifted, more committed, motivated and encouraged are a few words that spring to mind.

Of course doing this would require effort, commitment and a willingness to be open.  But think about what could happen. Next week I will look at some of the practicalities.


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