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How To Motivate Your Employees To 'Want To'

Tuesday 4 March, 2008
Are you trying to get your workers to change? Then you need to be aware of a basic motivational, psychological truth. People only change when they WANT to. Here's how you can to increase your employees' 'want to' factor.

Strategy # 1: Ask brave questions

If you're not interested in your employees, you can't expect them to be interested in you and your organisation's goals. But if you show a real interest, they'll move in your direction. As Dale Carnegie said, "You can make more friends in two weeks by showing interest in others, than you can in two years trying to get others interested in you."

One of the best ways to show interest is to ask more "brave questions". Ask your employees:

  • What's most important to them when it comes to their job, family, goals and future
  • If they were leading the team, what changes they would make
  • What turns on their motivation, more than anything else

Remember, superficiality does not communicate genuine interest or pump-up another person's 'want to' factor. You've got to really care about the other person, and that comes through when you ask brave questions.

Strategy # 2: Be likeable

Simply put, people tend to follow people they like. And the more your employees like you, the more you pump-up their 'want to' factor.

Direct sales organisations have tapped into this principle with great success. Just think about the selling power of home-party plans. Attendees aren't being sold a product by some anonymous salesperson. They're buying a product from a friend they know, like, and trust.


  • Become a likeable person. Examine yourself for character flaws and work on them to become more likeable
  • Behave like someone you would do business with
  • Exude a warm, inviting tone and smile with ease - not a hurried sense of impatience
  • Listen with undivided attention, don't glance at your desk or computer screen while someone else is talking

Strategy #3: Exhibit authority

Before people can have a healthy 'want-to' factor, they've got to trust you and your integrity. In fact, from my 25 years experience, I've discovered one of the most sought-after job perks today is integrity. Here's how you can exhibit your integrity and your authority:

  • Let people know about your educational background, certifications, and legitimate titles, but let them know in subtle ways. No boasting, bragging, or arrogance. When your employees know these kinds of things about you, it increases their respect for what you say and what you are requesting.
  • Refer to what other colleagues and customers have to say about your work. Again, be subtle. It's a known truth that others can brag about your performance, whereas you can't - and still be liked.
  • Make a conscious effort to dress one or two levels above those you are trying to influence. If you dress higher than that, your employees may not think you can identify with them. And if you dress below your employees, they may not take you seriously.
  • Dress in clothing styles and colors typically associated with authority - like black, navy, or white. Research shows it does make a difference.

There's just one caution. You can't exhibit so much authority that people are afraid to challenge you!

Remember ...

If you want someone to change, follow or be more cooperative, then it all starts when they 'want to'. And they will 'want to' - if you follow these three simple leadership and motivation training practices.

Author Credits

Dr. Alan Zimmerman. As a best-selling author and Hall of Fame professional speaker, Dr. Zimmerman has worked with more than a million people, helping them become more effective communicators on and off the job. To receive a FREE subscription to his ‘Tuesday Tip’ articles, go to http://www.DrZimmerman.com.
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