It constantly amazes me how many people I meet who say they want more information on how to motivate their team members. I believe that motivation is necessary; however, when I feel that I need to motivate myself, it’s usually to do something that I really didn’t want to do in the first place. It may seem that motivation is a good thing, and it is, if it’s coming from the right place.
When we feel that we need to motivate our team members, is it for the same purpose of getting them to do something they don’t want to do, or that they don’t believe in? Team members should not be motivated to perform for the fact that if they don’t something bad will happen. Team members should be motivated to perform because they believe that what they are doing has a purpose. On the flip side, when team members are inspired, they will waste no time finding out what they need to accomplish the goal. Motivation is very short-lived, which is why people constantly seek it. Inspiration is timeless.
In the workplace, motivation is usually extrinsic. People are motivated for the hopes of a promotion, raise, or recognition. Inspiration in the workplace is something that every successful company has, and needs. The word inspiration means to be in spirit. When you are inspired, you are tuned in to that idea with your entire being.
Take Steve Jobs for example. Apple is one of the largest tech companies in the world. Steve Jobs was known for motivating his people, but he also inspired them in a way that very few others have. His team members believed in him and the company’s mission so much that they have been able to create a multibillion-dollar business with selling only a handful of actual products. When you think about it, Apple sells a phone, an MP3 player, two types of laptops, and three types of desktops. Of course, each product comes with various add-ons, but they really don’t have the selection that other electronics companies have.
So how can it be that Apple is so successful with such a limited product inventory? The answer isn’t just inspiration, but it does have a lot to do with it. The idea of creating the very best products in the world is an inspiring idea. Even though consumers may not think that Apple products are the very best in the world, Apple employees most certainly do. The company’s goal was not to be filthy rich, and create products that are designed to break and wear down to get constant re-buys. The idea was simply to be the best.
At Zappos, we want team members to get their motivation from the inspiration of the higher purpose of the company. We want people to believe in the idea of living and delivering WOW. That’s what inspires us and, in turn, motivates us to constantly try new things and be as innovative as we can. We want the Core Values to breathe inspiration into our team members.
At the Zappos Family All Hands meetings there are usually guest speakers. Some have spoken at TED talks, some are seasoned presenters, and some are just getting their careers started. The one thing that all of the presenters have in common is a very inspiring message. More often than not, the days that follow the All Hands are spent reliving the meeting and discussing what we thought of the speakers and how we can implement some of what we have been told into our everyday lives. That’s the power of inspiration. To have a large group of people start brainstorming on new ways to be innovative and efficient. Not because the CEO came out and gave a stereotypical “half-time pep talk,” but because a complete stranger stood in front of the company and made everyone in the room believe in what he/she is doing.