We get asked about motivation all the time, especially by managers who would love to have an instant motivation spell to try on their teams! However, as with most personal effectiveness topics, it’s not that straightforward, so we thought we would address 3 common myths about motivation:

1. The Power of Positive thinking

You feel unmotivated, sluggish, uninterested because you think unmotivated, sluggish thoughts! This is the domain of many motivational speakers who convince us that we can achieve anything we want if we can just convince themselves that we can do it. Is this reality? Or just Daydreaming?

Well positive thinking alone is not enough – we need to put the effort in to get a result out. Whilst it’s true that successful people tend to be optimists, they do not exclude consideration of the potential obstacles that may occur. The key to achieving your goals is to

1) set realistic targets
2) plan how you will achieve them
3) anticipate the potential obstacles
4) implement your plan allowing for a bit of flexibility so you can adapt to the unexpected challenges that may arise.

2. Money is the key motivator

Some of us would argue it is the only motivator! Money is important, of course, but it is one of a number of factors in ensuring staff remain motivated to achieve at their best levels. Freddie Hertzberg is probably the most well-known guru on the subject and developed his two factor theory to explain this. He determined that you cannot motivate people effectively if their hygiene factors are not met. These factors include:

• Security
• Status
• Working relationships
• Personal life
• Supervision/management

Once these areas have been addressed, we can focus on additional motivators such as:
• Achievement
• Recognition
• Responsibility
• Personal Growth and Advancement

So paying someone a bit more money when there are problems with these motivators will probably not do any good in the long term.

3. Happy workers are productive workers
Some organisations have taken Herzberg’s hygiene factors and confused them with his motivators and created this myth. Herzberg claimed that if you have the hygiene factors in place you can expect an average days’ work. It is only when you include the motivators that you can expect a higher level of input.

A study on the subject has revealed that there is a slight correlation between productivity and happiness but not enough to justify the concept. We know of organisations where the attention to comfort has lulled the employees into mediocrity. The truth is actually a reverse of the concept: productive workers are happy and tend to seek out further opportunities to continue being productive.