Motivation Paradox, Part 2: The Manager's Job

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Motivation Paradox, Part 2: The Manager’s Job

No, you’re right. It’s not the manager’s job to motivate the team members. We talked about that last time.

But still, we’d be foolish to say that managers have no impact on motivation.

As a manager, what is your role?

While it’s not up to you to create motivation for your team members, you can certainly avoid some of the common mistakes that often erode that motivation:

❌ Don’t take credit for their work. Sure, as a manager, your personal success is now defined by the success of your team. But be sure to give credit to individual members for the specific contributions they made to the team success. This also means compensating them appropriately for the level of their contribution.

❌ Don’t give ambiguous instructions. Avoid vague challenges to “be more positive” or “think like an owner” or “honor the voice of the customer.” Set clear, measurable, achievable, realistic targets. If you’re not sure what’s achievable and realistic, invite the team to suggest their own goals.

❌ Don’t manage the details of tasks they’re capable of owning. One person’s “support” is someone else’s “micromanaging.” Know your team members. Give them both the space and the support to succeed on their own.

❌ Don’t exclude anyone. Treat all team members with equal respect and value. This doesn’t mean treating everyone identically. It also doesn’t mean agreeing with everyone. Rather, it means respecting the unique perspective each person brings and allowing them to truly “belong” instead of merely “fitting in.”

❌ Don’t set up win/lose scenarios. Your department doesn’t have to win at someone else’s expense. Don’t celebrate the calamity of another department or competitor. Instead, celebrate the moments where everyone wins.

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