Most managers want to motivate people to peak performance, but their approach often backfires. In their fervent desire to teach people what they know to be true (after all, it worked to get them promoted to management, right?), some managers enthusiastically over-manage.

Over-management can manifest as micromanagement. When you tell staffers what to do, how to do it, when to do it and why your way is better, you undermine their ability to think for themselves. Instead of enjoying some control over the way they work, they begin to feel powerless and controlled. They may even start to doubt their competency. Their relationship with you deteriorates, as it is now based on compliance and conformity.

Managers who micromanage destroy any chance for their people to find meaning and fulfillment at work. Your staff’s basic psychological needs for autonomy, relatedness and competency remain unfulfilled, prompting them to withdraw and disengage.

The Domino Effect

Autonomy, relatedness and competency are interdependent. When you fail to offer opportunities for learning and growth (competency), you thwart opportunities for autonomy and relatedness. Mess with one and the others fall like dominoes.

Don’t make the mistake of believing your people lack motivation. People want to learn, grow, enjoy work, be productive and make a contribution. They want to enjoy relationships at work. It’s human nature.

When our psychological needs are satisfied, we experience positive energy, vitality and a sense of well-being. We strive for more. You’ve likely experienced this with your hobbies. No one needs to tell you to engage in something you enjoy; you do it because you derive pleasure from it.

Everyone has motivation. What matters is the quality of motivation. In my next post, we’ll talk about different levels of engagement and how you can discover more about what motivates individuals through motivational conversations.

What’s been your challenge with motivating people? You can contact me here or on LinkedIn.