You know how some people under extraordinary conditions experience a moment of super-human strength. What if there was a way to create moments of super-human motivation?
Well I may not have a secret formula for you but I do have the next closest thing and its called emotion. When you add emotion to motivation it acts like a multiplier, kind of like that high-octane fuel you use in race cars. A few drops can go a deceptively long ways.
So how do you tap into this super-charged fuel for motivating people? It all starts by tapping into the power of purpose and painting pictures, which rouse even the sleepiest heart.
When employees are able to see a connection between what they do, and some kind of tangible impact they have on the greater good, it ignites a higher level of personal motivation. Recently I was working with a management team and I was walking them through an exercise to help them connect purpose to pay. One of the things this organization does is run the recycling program in their community. When I asked them how they could link purpose to pay, someone said, “Our company helps the environment.” While this is true, and it is on the right track, it still does not evoke emotion, and remember emotion is that motivation super juice. So I asked them to get more specific, to which someone else replied, “We recycle paper and save trees.” OK better, were getting more specific but still not quite there. I asked how many trees? No one knew but someone had the formula to figure it out. Within 60 seconds, someone crunched the numbers and came up with the answer. “We save on average 1,446 trees a month.” Suddenly a heightened sense of pride came over the room.
I can see trees better than I can see “We help the environment” and when it comes to evoking emotion, its all about painting pictures that connect with the heart.
Last year when Adam Grant did a study on the fundraising department at the Wharton School of Business he found that a group of employees who were given letters to read from past scholarship recipients chronicling how the scholarship had changed their life, resulted in the employees raising twice as much money the following month. Doubling your production sounds like Super-Human Motivation to me. The fundraisers at Wharton were fueled by a new sense of purpose, driven by images they could see; the stories of lives changed because of the work they do. Someone could have told them they do a great service to society by raising money for scholarships, but it would not have the same impact as a picture, which tugs on the heart. Those pictures were found in the letters they read.
So to connect purpose to pay in a way that has maximum impact, you must find ways to paint specific pictures of how you impact people and the world around you.
Try and find ways to connect purpose to what you do, but get as specific as you can. When people can see it as if watching a movie, it has the ability to illicit emotion which super-charges motivation.
A few examples
To the House Keeping staff at a hotel
Instead of a generic“We help people relax and recharge.” you might say something like “ You’re the reason why a mom can get a day off from making the bed and vacuuming the floor.”
A Parks and Recreation Department
Instead of “We help the community live active lives.” Try painting pictures such as “We’re the reason why some teenagers will avoid getting into drugs because they can spend Friday nights at open gym night instead of out roaming the streets.”
Alternatively “If it were not for us, people who work from home would have a harder time making friends. We give them the chance to meet people through our programs. So lets make sure they are run with excellence.”
It takes some practice to come up with these but the more you try the better you will get. The important thing is to create word pictures that resonate with the heart. When people can picture whom they are helping it ignites a deeper source of motivation within us.
Try writing out 10 different pictures that connect purpose to pay. Make sure they are tangible and not abstract statements like “We help people live better lives.” Take the best three and use them with your staff this month.