Motivate Yourself And Your Team

Recent article published by U-do.

Master Motivation;

The essential keys to motivating yourself and your team.

Simon Hartley

Be World Class

World class people always seem to have a magical combination of passion, energy, drive and determination. Whichever words we use to describe it, they are motivated! The same is true of great teams. They have the will and determination to go the extra mile.

In psychology, motivation is often known as the ‘why of behaviour’. It helps to explain why we do the things we do and even why we don’t do the things we should do. How hard do we push ourselves? How much are we willing to give? When do we stop? There is a reason behind our decisions and our actions. That reason is at the heart of our motivation.

Why does a swimmer get out of bed at 4am on a cold, wet Tuesday in December. Why do they drive all the way to the pool and swim up and down for 2 hours? Why do they then have a bite of breakfast before doing a strength & conditioning session, followed by physiotherapy, a bite of lunch, a meeting with the performance analyst, a meeting with the coach and back in the pool for another 2 hours? What’s it all in aid of? Why do they do all this 6-7 days a week for years on end?

The answer is that many of them have a dream. That’s what motivates them. That’s their reason.

To be motivated, we need a compelling reason. In order to master our motivation, we need to be acutely aware of this reason. It has to be meaningful. We really have to want it! Often though, we forget the reason. It slips to the back of our mind. We start doing things out of habit. Sometimes we confuse our reasons. Sometimes our reasons change over time. We might start a business for the love of doing it and because we know the value it gives to others. Over time, we may lose sight of this and become embroiled in the day to day grind of finances, HR issues and red tape. Equally, our reasons might start to distort. We forget about our love for the business and the value we give. We might start seeing the business as a means of gaining recognition and respect from others. It becomes our way of making our fortune; a way of getting the big house and flashy car.

So how do you know what your reasons are? It’s actually quite easy to tell. If your reason to be in business is to make a lot of money, gain recognition and drive the flashy car, you will find that your motivation takes a nose dive if you’re struggling financially. If you are motivated because of a love for what you do and because you know that what you do has value, your motivation will tend not to be knocked as much if you hit financial struggles.

Understanding the reason is the foundation to mastering motivation. Motivating a team requires us to not only understand our own reasons, but also those of the team. Are they at work purely for the money? Is it because they enjoy being part of the team? Are they here to be successful and to be recognised? Do they get satisfaction from achieving? Or do they simply love doing the job? Everyone is different. Most people have multiple reasons, but will normally have 1-2 that are stronger than others. When we understand those more fully, motivating the team becomes easier. Many managers try to inject their reasons into other people. It may have some short term impact, but doesn’t normally work in the long term.

In business, motivating yourself and your team has an enormous impact on performance. When lack of motivation becomes an issue, people often start to take their foot off the gas. They start choosing to do the easier things rather than the difficult things. They don’t push themselves quite as hard. They get despondent quicker. Rather than sticking with something until they make it work, they might try a few times but give up because they think ‘it’s just not working’. They take on less challenges and stick to their comfort zone more closely. If there is a choice to do a something now or postpone, they start to postpone. The end result is a negative downward spiral of reducing performance, reducing confidence and reducing motivation. Ultimately of course, the results suffer!

When we are motivated, we normally find a positive spiral of high performance, confidence, achievement and enjoyment. Creating a motivational environment can have a huge impact on the long term performance of a business. Leadership, performance management, incentive structures, understanding the strengths, weaknesses and personality of staff, knowing how to structure challenges, build confidence and hone focus are all key elements in creating a motivational environment. Getting these elements right often takes a little effort, but the prize is enormous.

To find out how to master your own motivation and create a high-performance, motivational environment, download ‘Master Motivation for Business’ at

Simon Hartley is an Olympic Sport Psychologist, Performance Coach and the author of Peak Performance Every Time (published by Routledge).