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How to Motivate The Unmotivated

Inspiring motivation in unmotivated employees can be a tricky thing. I could give you ideas for fun games, competitions, and perks to test out. And all of those tactics work to varying degrees. But first I’d like to challenge you to think a little deeper. 

It might be time to look at yourself. 

Most of the behavior in any given business is copied from leadership on down. Think about it like a child learning from watching how their parents behave. Your managers set the pace and the tone. They set the precedent. Speed of the leader, speed of the team. 

You attract what you are. And you may have hired a diverse group of people, but there are likely some key similarities uniting them. You attract people with the same kind of work ethic, disposition, and level of commitment. When it comes to motivating the unmotivated, lead by example. 

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How To Motivate The Unmotivated: A Case Study

I like to use Coach Christian’s old service drive as an example. He figured out pretty quickly that if he set the pace appropriately, he could drive consistent results. A big part of setting the pace was just always walking the drive. When he noticed he’d been in his office too long, he got out and walked around. He made his presence felt, but not in a negative context. 

Christian worked in the same store for 12 years. He pretty much knew every customer that came into the drive. Christian always made sure to stop, catch up, and joke around with the customers. He had a light touch. And with his advisors, he made sure their meetings were productive and engaging. 

He always talked a lot about results, constantly setting goals and keeping up in monthly competitions between advisors.

At first, he struggled to build rapport with the technicians. But then he moved his office so that it overlooked the drive, breaking down some of that barrier. He started to exhibit the same level of care with his technicians as he did with the customers, and those relationships steadily grew over time. Before long, the techs were staying late to chat with him in his office all the time. 

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Lack of Motivation Is A Symptom 

The other main point of emphasis is that not being motivated is more of a symptom of an issue rather than an issue itself. With any problem in life or work, you want to try to trace it back to the root and see what’s really going on. More often than not, there’s a systematic issue at play. 

Your hiring process and training may just not be up to par, and that means you’re setting yourself up for failure in a way. It’s key to put a rigorous hiring process in place to make sure that you only get coachable, dedicated people on your team. One way to establish that process is by setting up minimum requirements. Create a threshold or a bare minimum of what your team needs to accomplish, and people will either get on or fall off. Just doing that simple step sets a standard in place, and will create a framework for success. 

Recap: Motivating the Unmotivated

There are two big things to keep in mind when trying to inspire some motivation among your ranks. First and foremost, you need to lead by example. Be the model employee and show your staff what you expect from them. Build strong relationships with your customers over time, and do the same with your coworkers. Just because you don’t know how to fix a complicated car issue doesn’t mean you can’t get to know your technicians on a personal level. 

And second, you need to have a detailed process in place and stick to it. When your hiring system is well-defined, you’re only bringing in talented coworkers that can come in on the same page as you and stay there. If they know exactly what they need to do to be competent at their job, then they’ll know what they can do to go above and beyond. 

If going above and beyond is the precedent that you establish, then that’s what your team will emulate. It’s simple. If you want your business to be exceptional, then you must be an exceptional leader. 

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