Is Your Motivation Demotivating


The traditional system of motivation is based on carrots and sticks. This type of motivational structure can still be effective, however, contemporary leaders and organizations are beginning to look beyond the traditional to tap into even higher levels of employee motivation to realize ever more challenging productivity goals.


As a young employee, early in my business career, the company president (who was very successful and wealthy) took me on a drive. We pulled off the road overlooking emerald fields grid with white horse ranch fences. The President shared that the land below us was partially his and that he intended to accumulate even more land. I remember him saying; “Bob, if you come to work every day, put your nose to the grind stone, don’t be a clock watcher and work to the hardest of your ability, the one day…all of that (waving his hands out over the vista) will be all mine (his).”


It may seem like a ridiculous parable that a leader would think the company or company leadership’s success is a primary motivator for a line level employee like I was. However, let’s examine a traditional organization’s goal setting process and focus. An organization that would be considered focused and goal oriented probably has financial goals and if they’re the least bit contemporary, they’ll share those goals with their workforce. The next level of goal evolution is for an organization to then break the path to those financial goals down into individual department goals and sometimes even individual employee skill and productivity goals for the month, quarter of year.


That level of goal development is helpful and important, but here’s what’s missing. The organization has till not tied it back to the individual. I mean what really MATTERS to the individual.


One of our leading clients is growing by 36% per year. They’ve attracted multiple rounds of private equity investment and shared a portion of the gain of those exits with the entire team. They’ve tapped into the single most powerful concept of motivation; intrinsic motivation.


Here’s how they’ve done it. EVERYONE on their team creates a vision board (sometimes called a dream board) during their first week of employment with the organization. Next, if they don’t already have a personal goal setting process, the organization walks them through a process to set 8 goals in 8 life areas like personal, family, health/physical, financial, career, spiritual, community and social.


Once the goals are completed, finally, a “cookbook” (daily, weekly, monthly behavioral plan) is created to tie the goals back to specific behaviors the team member will commit to that will drive achievement of the goals. This is where the alignment happens between the organization’s goals and individual’s goals. The employee is encouraged to share their goals with their leader (it is optional). If the team member is willing to share their goals, the leader is now in a strong position to advocate, support and help that person on their to journey to achieve their goals and what matters most TO THEM.


Of course, sometimes both parties identify that the team member won’t be able to achieve their goals in their role or with the organization which calls for a candid yet supportive conversation about helping the team member find a role or another career opportunity which is a better match.


As you can see, this process takes some work, but pays big dividends for both parties. At the end of the day, most organizations want commitment from their team, not just compliance. Focus on your team’s vision and goals and watch their productivity and behavior skyrocket!




For the free whitepaper, 6 Ways to Be a More Effective Manager, Learn How to Lead Your Team to Success, contact Bob Bolak at


Bob Bolak is President/CEO of Sandler Training in the Greater Denver Area. As an accomplished leadership, management, customer service and sales consultant and trainer, he brings two and half decades of leadership, management and sales experience to the table, with a consistent track record of double and triple digit revenue and profit increases.


Sandler Training has authored over two dozen books on effective leadership, management, customer service and sales.

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