I think we can all agree that people manage themselves and their work. People don’t work for you, they work for themselves and their family. The work with you, not for you. Remember that as a starting point and getting them to perform at their best won’t be so difficult for you. What we know bout behavioral science is that motivation is an intrinsic trait, it’s really up to the individual to decide whether they’re interested in delivering or not. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t influence the conditions to help motivate them.
As a leader it’s up to you to help instill that drive into the people you work with. This takes work. It’s simple, but not easy. If it was easy it wouldn’t be work. We get caught up in our day to day and we ignore some of the easy tasks that would help us set the conditions. It starts with getting to know your people, their likes and dislikes, what drives their behaviors and actions and from there it’s about pushing and pulling the right levers. Easier said than done. People are complex, some are guarded, some won’t trust you and others may be too open at times. It’s a balance, but you’re job as a leader starts from the first day on the job. It’s about building relationships, saying hi, asking how people are doing and waiting for a response.
But that’s not enough. You need to go deeper. If you want good performance, reinforce it when you see it. An old ‘atta boy just isn’t enough. You want the behavior to be replicated, to become a daily habit. That only happens when you get people to recognize the behaviors that are working. It happens when you start asking the right questions, like “how did you do that?” “What made that work for you?” “What did you learn as a result of doing that?”.
These don’t have to be long and in depth conversations, but they need to be frequent and consistent. If you want performance you need to work for it too.