I don’t know about the rest of you, but if I see another article about how I should set goals for the New Year, I might chuck my computer out the window. Enough already, people! January 1st is just another day of the week. It doesn’t have magical powers to make all your bad habits disappear overnight.

Am I alone in feeling this way?


I have a visceral reaction (clearly) to the shouting orders-type of motivation. I’m generally demotivated when someone tells me that I must do something. Either I cross my arms and determinedly decide NOT to do the thing—however irrational—or run in the other direction. 

What does motivate me? When I see things transform. Give me a good “before” and “after” situation, and I’m all in. If you add an opportunity for me to go “Ta-da!” at the end, you might find I’ve already started working on that goal.

So here’s the real question. Do you know what motivates you? 

There’s so much upside to letting others know how they can tap into what makes you tick. 

What might happen if you helped your boss and your teammates understand how they could get the best from you? And just as important, how they could keep you from digging your heels in? 

By knowing and communicating how we get motivated, we maximize the value we share in the workplace. It’s a win-win.


Now let’s flip the script. Managers—is your job to get your people to do what needs doing? Or is your job to motivate them to reach for more than they thought they could accomplish?

I’m hoping it’s the second answer. But let’s be real for just a second. 

Some work needs to get done. Take this input of information, send it through a process. If the result is “a,” then do this; if the result is “b,” then do that. This type of work is what we’ve hired humans to do for many years. 

The entire last century has been focused on workforce optimization. And by optimizing, I mean, we’ve replaced humans with machines. Read any article about innovation and it’ll tell you that technology, in whatever form it may come, will continue to replace the “mechanistic worker.”

This shift away from the “human working machine” has changed the talent landscape. And all signs point to a more competitive marketplace for employers. People choose to work with you as much as you choose to hire them. It’s a double-sided marketplace.

If someone doesn’t feel engaged with their work, they’ll find another job. Sure, you can adjust title and compensation, but those upgrades will only go so far in producing a spark of motivation. 

The truth about these fantastic multidimensional humans is that every single one of them is different. 

Which then begs the question, do you talk to the individuals in your team about what motivates them? 



Now imagine for a second, you could align someone’s role with their natural skills, their real value, and what motivates them. Could that be the makings of a dream job? Better yet, does that have the makings of a dream team? 

I think so.

So this year, instead of just sharing your goals, try sharing how people can motivate you. If you’re a manager, take a moment this week and ask an individual on your team, “What motivates you?” 

And don’t just take the first answer, have a conversation. For bonus points, share how you get motivated with this person. Shouldn’t they know about you, too?

You might be surprised by the results. 

You might even set yourself up for 2020 to be the best year ever.

PS. If there’s a flourish at the end you can consider the project done.