How to Kill Motivation (The Owner Edition)
My client, Kay, is a director of a customer success team. During her last coaching session, we discussed a recurring pattern:
- The owners would set goals for the customer success team.
- Kay’s team would fail to meet these goals.
- The owners would berate Kay and her team, sometimes firing employees they deemed “underperformers.”
- The owners then changed their goals, benchmarks, and tactics every month or two.
There were two things the owners didn’t do:
- In 10 years of running the business, they never had a functional, motivated customer success department.
- They didn’t consult or even listen to Kay, the director they had hired to solve their problem!
If the owners had listened to Kay, she would have told them their metrics were ridiculous given the size and experience of her team. That continuously changing metrics and strategies made the team inefficient
That her team felt beaten down, faced with the inability of accomplishing unattainable goals, constantly being told they weren’t good enough, and living with the constant fear of being fired. With motivation and morale so low, it’s no surprise some of her employees actually did start underperforming!
As Kay and I brainstormed potential solutions, my frustration with the roadblocks imposed by upper management led me to blurt out, “They’re not focusing on improvement; they’re only focusing on accomplishment!”
"They're not focusing on improvement; they’re only focusing on accomplishment!”
This simple statement struck a chord. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up as we both realized the shift in perspective that needed to happen and the power it had for real change and long-term motivation.
It was clear that instead of fixating on meeting impossible accomplishments handed down from the top, the team needed to find the motivation to keep going by focusing on their improvement.
Empowering Yourself to Stay Motivated
The same perspective applies to our own careers (and literally everything else you want).
We can let go of the weight of self-criticism and our fear of falling short. Instead of dwelling on unfinished resumes or feeling overwhelmed by the job search, we can shift our focus to the process of improvement. We can stay motivated by celebrating the smaller victories along the way. Because progress is progress, regardless of its size.
The pursuit of work we love is not a straight path. It is filled with twists, turns, and setbacks. Rather than feeling defeated by the seeming impossibility of finding work we love, we can break it down. We can empower ourselves, increase our self-belief, and build on that motivation
The work we love is not just a destination; it’s a continuous series of improvements.
Small Wins, Big Motivation
And Kay? She already had proof this approach would work with her team. She shared an interaction she had with her employee Sandra just the day before.
Kay didn’t have a close relationship with her employee, Sandra. But when Sandra expressed how defeated she felt over her consistent failure to meet the owners’ demands, Kay saw an opportunity to motivate her.
Instead of chiding her, Kay empathized with her. And then she asked for improvement. Rather than pushing Sandra to get everything done, Kay challenged her to complete a specific task—one that had been difficult for her to finish in the past—by the end of the day.
Faced with one task and four hours to get it done, Sandra was motivated to keep going. She surpassed her own expectations, finishing the task in just two hours!
Sandra’s entire energy shifted. Kay’s genuine congratulations as they celebrated Sandra’s progress reinforced the importance of embracing improvement. Rather than feeling defeated because she “failed” to accomplish the impossible, Sandra felt empowered and motivated and the experience strengthened her relationship with Kay.
Finding the motivation to keep going in our search for work we truly love is not always easy. It’s natural to get caught up in self-criticism and feelings of demotivation when we experience setbacks and slow progress. However, by shifting our focus from solely fixating on accomplishments to embracing the power of improvement, we can find renewed inspiration and the motivation to persevere.
Celebrate the small wins along the way, empower yourself by focusing on improvement and progress, and remember that each step forward, no matter how small, brings us closer to unlocking our full potential in our search for work we love.
Need some motivation yourself? Let me help. Schedule your Career Jumpstart call now to kick-start your path to work you love.