Supervisory Leadership

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How do I motivate my people?

One of the hardest things to get bosses to do is shift their thinking away from motivation and toward behavior and performance.

You can't see motivation. You can't measure it. That makes it hard to describe what you want and to figure out if you're getting what you want.

I encourage bosses to think behavior and performance instead. Here are a couple of common conversations.

Boss: "John has a bad attitude."

Wally: "What does John do that makes you say that? That's the behavior we want to change."


Boss: "I want Judy to be more motivated."

Wally: "What would Judy do so you'd know she was motivated? That's the behavior we want to encourage."

Your odds of getting folks to do what you want go way up if you can do three things

  • Describe the behavior you want.
  • Measure compliance.
  • Deliver the consequences of good and bad behavior.


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