You may be reading this article at work because you’re bored and killing time. This wouldn’t surprise many HR professionals. In a survey conducted last month, 55 per cent admitted their concern for the diminishing motivation of employees. So, I’ve asked some of Australia’s leading personal development gurus for their tips on how to get fired up at work, rather than worked up and fired.
Professor Tim Sharp is the founder of The Happiness Institute and is a specialist on positive psychology.
“If you’re struggling to find motivation, then remember that everyone – including you – is motivated to do something,” he says.
“It may just be different to what other people would like you to do. Your challenge is to find out what you love and what you’re good at, what energises you, such as your strengths, and then find ways to do more of that more often.”
In recent years, a pioneer of the ‘strengths at work’ movement has been Marcus Buckingham, an ex-researcher at the Gallup Organisation. In his best-selling books, he claims the responsibility of job satisfaction rests not necessarily with the manager, but with the employee. He reckons its workers who should be identifying their own strengths and incorporating these in their work.
Amanda Gore, an expert on occupational health and the creation of joy at work, says: “find a bigger purpose in what you’re doing no matter what your job.”
“There can always be a higher purpose. Even if it’s to make other people believe in themselves by something you do each day, or that the work you do makes life safer or easier for someone else who is helping others. Find a way to redefine what you do so that you can see the higher purpose behind what you do.”
This seems to be true for Generation Y. Research conducted a few years ago by the Foundation for Young Australians showed that Gen Ys want meaning at work more than anything else, which is the need to work for a bigger purpose. Also advocating the ‘purpose’ mantra is Terry Hawkins, who has spent three decades as a specialist on ‘mind language’ and performance.
“Most of us at some stage in our careers or jobs lose that oomph,” she says. “The easiest way to keep our passion in check is to consider why we do what we do. Passion is fuelled by purpose. When we only look at our work as ‘just a job’ and something you ‘have’ to do, it does become challenging to spring out of bed every morning.
“So, find your purpose – not the company’s purpose, but your own reason for doing what you do. It doesn’t matter what job you have or the role you play; when you are clear on the positive difference you make each day, it helps you to stay focused when the flat periods hit.”
At odds with Gore and Hawkins on this issue is Oonagh Moodling, a writer and speaker on the desensitisation of the workplace. “I fundamentally disagree with that hackneyed phrase, ‘find your purpose’,” she says. “Most people are so dislocated from themselves they don’t even experience an emotional reaction to atrocities on the news, let alone connect with their own deepest desires.”
“Your dissatisfaction at work is a gift,” she adds. “It is your own internal compass communicating your innate unhappiness with how things are. So here’s my advice regarding a lack of motivation in the workplace: it’s because you’re in the wrong place. If you’re still lucky enough to feel your intuition enough to be miserable at work – rejoice! It is your soul’s way of telling you you’re meant for better things; happier experiences. What are you still doing there?”
If you’re inclined to take Moodling’s advice but are yet to tender your resignation or quit your business, consider Anthony Bonnici’s thoughts. He’s a master practitioner of neurolinguistic programming. “It comes down to linking your work with the one thing that gets you up every morning – whether it be the need for power, achievement, recognition, affiliation, or security,” he says.
“Money is not our only driver – although many of us think otherwise – it is what that money does for us that usually leads us to one of these five motivational drivers.”
If you’re exhausted by a long week and distracted by the imminent weekend, maybe these ideas are too much to think about on a Friday afternoon. Save them instead, then, for that other common slump: Mondayitis.
In the meantime, the last word goes to the late Jim Rohn, the motivational guru that’s inspired many of today’s motivational thinkers: “Motivation alone is not enough. If you have an idiot and you motivate him, now you have a motivated idiot.”
Got any secrets to getting motivated? Or have you lost the will to work? Comment here
Written by James Adonis, author of ‘Corporate Punishment: Smashing the management clichés for leaders in a new world’. Follow on Twitter.
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