Let me begin by saying I don’t believe you can motivate people, at least not for lasting results. You may be able to motivate them to do something in their best interests for a short period of time, but as soon as the incentive you offered goes away, so does the motivation.
That being said, we had some great suggestions offered on what to do with the unmotivated that I thought I should weigh in with some of my opinion. My opinions are based on my years of management and may or may not work with your employees (see previous paragraph for why).
Understand what you need – Do you really need someone who is goal-oriented or is task orientation the better fit? Be honest with yourself, and dig deep. Sometimes you need task-riented people more than you do goal-oriented people.
Ask probing questions to better understand what MIGHT motivate an associate - As a manager, you have to use all the tools you have to find out why things are missing. Questions like “How do you like to be recognized and rewarded when you do a job well.” “What was something that’s made you feel great at work recently?” or something else that works with your employee. Trust matters.
Realize much of this is out of your control – If your employee isn’t motivated, it may not be your fault, it may just be how they are wired. If your employee IS motivated, it may not be your fault, it may just be how they are wired. It’s best to understand this at the job interview but if you didn’t know it then, you still have to accept it now – or fire the employee that’s driving you crazy.
Think about the example you’re setting – Are you motivated to do the job at a high level? If you’re not motivated, employees quickly realize motivation isn’t an important piece in getting promoted, so they won’t be motivated.
Peer pressure/competition works (sometimes) – Do you have an employee who is a super rock star who does everything she’s asked? Are her stats off the charts awesome and you wish everyone on the team were more like her? Perhaps a little peer review is in order. If the unmotivated associated is thrives on competition, this might work but be careful: This may end up demotivating your superstar by showing how little work someone can do and still keep their job.
Any other suggestions for motivating the unmotivated?