Throughout the typical day in the life of a manager there are a multitude of issues to be dealt with, concerns to alleviate and proverbial fires to put out. At the same time, a manager is also trying to build a team of performance powerhouses through motivating sustained and optimal performance from his or her staff.
In the next few minutes we are going to uncover two questions that can absolutely slaughter the motivation of your staff. Two questions that are so common yet have an uncommon negative impact on the success of your staff member and your team. So, here they are, the two motivation-slaughtering-questions:
These seemingly simple questions are used throughout all industries, markets and business segments. These two simple questions are spoken from the lips of managers, directors and executives on a daily basis.
So, what is so bad with these questions? These questions instantly suck the motivational life out of your staff and immediately plunge performance. The reason these questions are so destructive to motivation and performance is because they have an undertone of, “you have not been able to solve this issue on your own, so now I HAVE to get involved…and now WE have to do this TOGETHER!” You are essentially telling your staff member that he cannot do it (he is incompetent), and this issue can only be resolved if you swoop in and provide THE solution (lack of autonomy).
There are two elements not being nurtured here. Two elements that must be nurtured if you want optimal performance from your staff: autonomy and competence.
True motivation and optimal performance stem from an individual’s perception of autonomy. That is, the feeling of being self-directed, self-determined and having a sense of freedom to choose among performance options. The more autonomous one feels, the more creative they are with solutions, the more effort they exert and the more persistence they express.
Also, true motivation and optimal performance stem from an individual’s sense of competence toward a given task. If you desire maximum output from your staff member, you must nurture their competence. Competence enhances effort and persistence, as well as taps into that staff member’s internal reasons for engaging in a task.
So, let’s revisit our two slaughtering questions: 1) What can we do about this? And 2) What can I do to help? Both questions undermine autonomy and competence. And, when autonomy and competence are low, so is performance.
Let’s close with a few alternative questions that will elicit the same solution-oriented-thinking you were looking for with your original questions.