Where to find motivation when you need it

- Motivation

by Luke Doyle

You’re stuck in a motivational rut.

You barely slept last night and you have a deadline looming. The pressure is high but your energy levels are so low, all you can think about is crawling back into bed.

You’re stuck in a motivational rut.

Whether you’re struggling to stick to a New Year’s resolution or you’re trying to make yourself work (when you really don’t feel like it) – we all fall into a slump from time to time.

Follow this flowchart to identify which of 4 personality types you are, so you can learn how to tap into motivation deep within you.

How to motivate your team when they need it

In an ideal world, the team you’ve assembled around you at work will be lovely, talented, and driven. But there are many reasons why that third factor might lapse, and the responsibility for keeping them motivated ultimately lands with the boss and HR managers.

Maybe your star player is going through a bad patch outside of work and it’s bringing her game down in the office. Perhaps your whole team is dragging their feet because the successful completion of a group project seems impossibly far off. Or maybe the usually-reliable guy who sits by the window seems to be lagging behind these days because, well, we all struggle to get started now and then in a long-term role.

There’s no hard and fast rule to fix all of them, and getting to know what makes each individual employee tick is part of being a great leader. There are some broad, character-oriented principles to work from, however, and it’s worth learning about how the four character types can be motivated before you start to fine tune this approach for each of your colleagues.
Motivation and happiness expert Gretchen Rubin reckons that our drive is connected to the way we manage expectations. And how we manage our expectations depends on what personality-type we fit: the Upholder, the Questioner, the Obliger, or the Rebel. Read on and you’ll soon recognize which one fits each of your teammates – and start to re-categorize your staff in a way that can enable you to boost their motivation.

The Upholder

As the name suggests, Upholders are the cornerstones of your business – and indeed every team, from sports squads to military units. Upholders believe in the letter of the law and they crave stability and structure. This means that so long as they are motivated, they will reinforce the structure of your team.

But you’ve probably seen an Upholder or two walk out the door over the years. In a chaotic atmosphere in which the boss is unable to restore any sense of rhythm or regularity, Upholders become uncomfortable. They fail to see the sense in their work, become frustrated, and lose faith. They have better things to do with their time.

To keep your Upholders pepped and loyal, be sure to maintain a strong schedule and sense of purpose and principle within your business. You might even delegate planning and strategizing tasks to your Upholders themselves. Be clear in your instructions and expectations, and be sure to mark landmarks and successes as you reach them.

The Questioner

While the Upholder requires deliberate signposting to stay on track, the Questioner is likely to digress off-course with or without that structure. The key is to keep their digressions under control, on-topic, and productive.

Make sure they know how to prioritize by explaining the Eisenhower Matrix to them. It’s great that they want to interrogate the ins and outs of your business, but there’s an effective order in which to do this if it is to benefit the company.

Try to keep their work research-based, or to frame each task as a form of investigation. And always make the purpose of a task clear, because apparently-meaningless tasks can lead a Questioner to start asking themselves deep and paralyzing existential questions!

The Obliger

A workplace needs ambitious star talent to excel, but selfless team players are a cut above. Unfortunately, when the latter – aka The Obligers – are left to themselves to complete individual tasks, they can find it hard to remain focused and driven.

Be sure to connect their individual tasks to the bigger picture of a team goal, and let them know how the house of cards depends on them completing their solo assignments. Ensure the Obliger isn’t working (and shirking) in a vacuum by having them report to or collate work with a colleague.
But don’t forget to give them a break and recognize their awesome selfless achievements – all that Obliging can take its toll now and then.

The Rebel

Uh-oh! The Rebel, like the Questioner, might not fall into line as easily as the others – and is like to drift when they sense a task is meaningless. But given the right work and the right motivation, your Rebel will surprise you with unexpected solutions to your business’s problems.

When you sense a task is not setting your Rebel’s world on fire, try to reframe it in a new context or put a spin on the way you’d like the results to look. And be sure to give them plenty of leeway to try things their own way within carefully-set parameters if you want them to stay pumped for the job at hand.

Now you’ve spotted these familiar characters among your office cast, it’s time to rethink what you ask of them!

Do you have any tips that keep you motivated? Share them in the comments below!

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3 thoughts on "Where to find motivation when you need it"

  • Paul Towers says:

    I often just reach out to other successful startup founders I know for a quick chat. Hearing that they are facing similar issues or have had some success that day or week just propels me to get back out there and get hustling again!

  • Alexander Weinhard says:

    Thanks for that post, Paul.
    Surely, there are different things that keep people motivated, but I really don’t like works where people are pushed into three or four categories (e.g. Hunter – Sheppard – Villain or DISG). I am convinced that motivation is far more complex and individual than that.
    And there is one perspective which I am essentially missing. That is: I know, I am a “Rebel” and the tasks I am given don’t put me on fire at all. So what can I actively do to remain motivated?
    Regards
    Alex W.

  • Alexander Weinhard says:

    Sorry Luke, I just caught the wrong name!!! Where’s the edit button? 😉

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