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Unlocking Team Potential: The Power of Uncovering Unconscious Motivators

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In professional development, understanding motivation is paramount for companies, teams, and leaders seeking to improve performance and results. While external motivators such as salaries, promotions, and titles undoubtedly play a role, a deeper exploration into internal motivators reveals the key to sustained engagement and fulfillment within a team. In this article, we dive into the critical distinction between external and internal motivation, appreciation and recognition, and how to tap into employees’ unconscious motivators for lasting team success.

External vs. Internal Motivation

External motivators encompass tangible rewards or recognition from others, such as salary, bonuses, promotions, or praise, undoubtedly drive short-term performance. However, the impact of these types of rewards tends to be fleeting. Throughout our experience facilitating team building and leadership coaching, we found ourselves looking for a more profound and effective set of motivators. We noticed elements that resonated with an individual’s spirit, personal values, passion, interests, and a sense of accomplishment, achieving a much more meaningful level of team engagement and motivation.

While external motivators include tangible rewards, internal motivators tap into the intrinsic aspects that define an individual’s identity and purpose. We have seen that leaders who solely rely on external motivators risk creating an environment where employees feel disengaged, disinterested, and undervalued shortly after these incentives were awarded, and certainly, if the incentives stopped. For example, in an economic environment where salaries and promotions were frozen, teams with leaders who relied exclusively on external motivators saw almost immediate drops in productivity and overall team engagement. Understanding and leveraging internal motivators is the key to unlocking sustained enthusiasm and commitment from a team.

Appreciation vs. Recognition

Leaders must learn the distinction between appreciation and recognition, as they play a distinct role in fostering a motivated and high-performing team. Appreciation goes beyond acknowledging what someone has done; it is about genuinely seeing who someone is at their core. While recognition applauds achievements and contributions, appreciation expresses gratitude for an individual’s inherent value, which includes their unique skills, effort, perspectives, and qualities. On the other hand, recognition is more targeted, acknowledging specific achievements, milestones, or skills.

Employees thrive when there’s a balance of both appreciation and recognition. Recognizing accomplishments and hard work fosters a sense of achievement, but without appreciating the individual behind these achievements, a leader can miss a crucial method of motivating. Successful leaders understand that acknowledging the employee behind the job creates a more profound connection, which, ultimately, sees that employee more excited, effective, and successful in their role.

Uncovering Unconscious Motivators

This is where the Awareness to Thrive workshops come into play. We specialize in uncovering individuals’ unconscious motivators—deeply rooted drivers influencing behaviour and shaping professional desires. By understanding an employee’s or colleague’s motivators, you can gain valuable insights into what inspires and drives your team.

Our proprietary approach enables leaders to learn how to blend recognition and appreciation, addressing both external and internal motivators. With a deeper understanding of intrinsic motivators, leaders can tailor reward and engagement strategies to help foster a workplace culture that nurtures loyalty, innovation, and performance.

In pursuing exceeding performance targets in a corporate world with shrinking budgets and loftier goals, leaders must go beyond traditional motivators and embrace the potential of internal motivations. Recognizing the difference between appreciation and recognition is pivotal. Both are essential to allow employees, leaders, and colleagues to feel valued for who they are and what they contribute.

Let us help you uncover unconscious motivators in your team that can lead to strategic decisions that resonate with team members on a personal level. By embracing the power of internal and external motivators, we have seen teams and whole organizations embed resiliency and motivation within the company’s fabric. These teams thrive in an environment full of appreciation, recognition, and shared purpose.