I love talking about employee culture, and really enjoy dispelling a lot of the myths that surround how to create a great culture.

One of the biggest is “I’ve got to get me people more motivated”. You hear it all the time. I always imagine the same visual when I hear that quote – an overzealous manager trying to be “rah rah!” and give the great speech and high fives. All while the employees are rolling their eyes behind the scenes.

Here is the dirty little secret…

You cannot “motivate” anyone.

You can’t force or manipulate someone to do stuff they don’t really want to be doing.

You certainly can cajole, threaten, and coerce them to do stuff but that is hardly a good way to build culture!!

So then what can you do???

It is very simple (but not easy).

You can inspire them.

Employees that are truly INSPIRED by the company they work with, the people they work with (by the way, it is “with” not “for”, no one really works “for” anyone) become SELF MOTIVATED. You see, motivation is internal, not external. No one except you, can motivate you. Someone can inspire you, creating massive motivation, but not the other way around!

So how do you INSPIRE people? There are a ton of ideas and ways but here are a few:

#1 Most important is don’t UNINSPIRE them!! I know it sounds simple but it takes great care not to do dumb stuff, or put them with dumb people, doing unnecessary or the wrong things. So with that out of the way…

#2 Create an atmosphere where employees are part of something bigger than themselves. Have a great purpose, and talk about it a lot. EVERY generation, and especially younger generations, want to be part of something bigger than them alone

#3 Another simple but important one, make sure you remove the road blocks and things that aren’t optimal or easy. Bad technology, poorly designed process, uncomfortable office environments all can serve to demotivate

#4 Give and take feedback so people feel seen and heard. If you have a culture that values input and give and take your team will feel aligned and part of a big idea.

#5 Maybe the MOST important… have a clearly defined set of Core Values
and live them every day in the company. (a future email where I will go in depth) Making Core Values come alive is an astonishingly powerful way to inspire.

#6 Last, but definitely not least… don’t try and fake it. Don’t hang up posters and put in ping pong tables in the hopes that great culture will magically appear. You have to own it, create it, and nurture it constantly. The second someone thinks they are being manipulated you may as well close up shop. Game over. So if you don’t believe deeply that you own culture don’t do anything at all.

Make the time to get clarity on how you can inspire and the motivation will follow!


Founder of the align5 Companies,  CEO of Scaling Up Coaches, and Serial Entrepreneur

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