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[EP 13] Classic mistake leaders make when they want to motivate their people

by | 20 Aug, 2019

Have you spent countless hours trying to figure out how to get the best out of your team and how to motivate them? Perhaps there is one specific person that you keep thinking about…

If your answer is yes, you have committed one of the classic leadership mistakes.

Know what the mistake is?

Let’s turn it on it’s head. If it was you that needed to be more motivated, who do you think would have the best answers to how to make sure you were motivated? You? Or your boss?

Key points from the episode:

  • Ask yourself: When you try to figure out in your head how to motivate someone – are you giving them more or less responsibility for their wellbeing at work? And is this the result you’re aiming for?


  • The answer to how to motivate your team members is a dialogue – but not between you and your mind. It’s between you and your team member.


  • If the relationship is already a little rocky – asking how they will feel more motivated will likely sound more like criticism, putting the other person in an attack- or defend-mode and making the opening for the conversation very small.


  • This is not a one-off conversation. It’s an ongoing dialogue and the answers keep evolving.


  • Be curious and listen deeply to what the other person is saying and what they’re not saying.


  • Help people see what it is that makes a task enjoyable or draining for them? Most people are not clear on this for themselves.

Tips on how to start this conversation:

Don’t make it awkward. Just have a normal conversation. Imagine if you were on the receiving end of this type of conversation. How would you like the conversation to start? Feel? End?

State up front that you can’t promise anything. It’s an exploratory conversation. And set it up so that this is the beginning of an on-going dialogue.

Don’t expect the person to be able to bring answers in the moment. Tell them to come back with their answers/thoughts by email or in person 48 hour later, 7 days later or whatever time frame makes sense to you both.


Questions that can support you having “the motivation conversation” in productive way:

  • On days where your work gives you the most enjoyment what happens?
  • What really drains your energy at work?
  • What do you wish you didn’t have to do at work?
  • Do short deadlines with lots of accountability help you thrive or do you like long deadlines with lots of space where you just get on with it?
  • On a scale from 1-10 where is your motivation at the moment? And what would it take to make it a 8/9/10?
  • Or turn the last question slightly on it’s head – using a technique one of the guests of The Tim Ferris Show podcast shared. Again get them to share a number from 1-10 where their motivation is at right now. And if it’s a low number – ask them – what makes it a 5 and not a 1?

Dialogue around the answers. Dig deep. And jointly decide on some actions.

For more information about Noomi Melchior Natan and Leadership Behind the Scenes go to


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