“Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.” — Dwight Eisenhower
There was a day that I hated school and now that my days of studying are finally coming to a close, I am shockingly saddened! I remember dreading homework and getting up early but my parents always reminded me that I could do better at school, if I really wanted to. Looking back, they were so right!
While I knew it was best to actually pay attention in class, do the homework and study for tests, I just didn’t feel like it so I squeaked out some C’s to keep my parents off my back and prepared to just do the status quo again the next semester; however, there were classes that I excelled in. Now as an adult, I can comprehend that while I knew the whole time HOW to do well in all of my classes, the WHY was the deciding factor: motivation.
In order to be effective leaders we have to understand what inspires and truly motivates others to reach their full potential, from the classroom full of young children in our care to the staff we work with or manage every day. Motivation is a compelling yet abstract internal force that cannot be seen or measured but we know it exists and it is powerful!
According to RM Steers, co-author of The Future of Work Motivation Theory, effective work motivation must be energizing, direct and have sustainability. Whether intrinsic or extrinsic, motivating your staff or the children in your classroom needs to be energizing to direct their behavior on a path or towards a goal while being strong and nourishing enough to sustain them over time. This will encourage a lasting impression that continues to drive and reveal those positive behaviors we need in our field everyday!
You can easily motivate the staff you work with and the children you care for by building upon the relationships you have already created with them. I found it easy to motivate the children in my classroom to clean up or stay in line by giving them simple affirmations for their great choices! A few small words to your staff can make a big difference and a smile goes a long, long way! When you take a moment to mention that you notice the work they are doing, that can be a way to sustain motivation over time. Don’t underestimate the power of your approval. Motivating the children in your care by giving them your time, attention and approval can leave life-long impressions and I promise you they will last longer than any color stick or candy on the market. “Good job” and “I’m proud of you” and/or a jumping high five can easily energize and direct a child’s behavior.
Directors, what are some things you do to motivate your staff? If you are a classroom teacher, how do you motivate the children in your classroom? And even more importantly, how do you keep your own self-motivation channeled and charged to stay on track, exceed the status quo and avoid burnout?