By Charlotte Kemp


In the pursuit of achieve a goal with our teams, we don’t often stop to consider how we attempt to motivate them.

When our team strives to reach the targets that have been set, those targets are requirements that have been externally applied to us. Someone else has determined what we should be able to achieve, defined them and then given them to us to work towards. And then to motivate us to achieve them, rewards such as commission or bonuses are offered over and above our regular salary.

But there are two problems with this model.

Firstly, an external motivation is not nearly as powerful as an internal one. Even when the motivation is defined by ourselves, external motivations, such as bonuses, status, approval etc, are not nearly as powerful over time, as an internal motivation to achieve, to grow or to learn for ourselves.

Of course it is much, much easier to motivate externally. It is much simpler to offer a 10% bonus than it is to spend time with a staff member to understand their priorities and personal growth path.

Another problem with motivating people towards a traditional goal, is that we do not have control over those goals. We have control over our actions, but not over the response and decision making of other people.

Image a sales call. We as the sales person have done all the right things in preparation of the call, asked the right qualifying questions and crafted an appropriate call to action. We are in control of the number of those calls and the quality of those calls, but we are not in control of the decision to purchase from that client.

Another way of setting up goals, is to focus on the activity that the team member must take rather than in a goal that is outside of their control. Making 10 sales calls a day is something that a person has control over. Closing 3 sales in a day is not what the person can actually control.

Too many failures to reach external goals, over which the person has no control, leads to the reverse of motivation. It leads to distraction seeking activities and ultimately a form of depression.  And on the other hand, consistent action that is internally motivated, will lead to longer term benefits and results.

Giving a team member control over setting goals that they can personally achieve and are wanting to strive towards for personal reasons, will leave you with an intrinsically motivated, highly committed individual who will ultimately have a better chance at reaching those goals that you had in mind in the first place.





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