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  • Dan Cable

Why People Lose Motivation — and What Managers Can Do to Help


Sometimes it’s hard to sympathize with others who are disengaged from work and unproductive as a result. Therefore, we think they should be able to suck it up and snap out of it. Although it’s easy to fall into this mindset as a leader, this type of thinking is counterproductive and it ignores the underlying reasons why people lose their passion for what they do.

In order to get at the crux of the problem, it’s crucial to understand that as humans we want to feel motivated and to find meaning in the things that we do. In fact, there’s a part of our brains called the seeking system that creates the natural impulses to learn new skills and take on challenging but meaningful tasks. When we follow these urges, we receive a jolt of dopamine, which make us want to engage in these activities even more. And, when our seeking systems are activated, we feel more motivated, purposeful, and zestful. We feel more alive.

To trigger employees’ seeking systems:

- Encourage them to play to their strengths > Employees want to be valued for the unique skills and perspectives they bring to the table, and the more you can re-enforce this, and remind them of their role in the company at large, the better.

- Create opportunities to experiment > Framing change and innovation as a chance to experiment and learn, instead of framing it as a performance situation, which makes people anxious, risk-averse, and less willing to persist through difficulty.

- Help employees personalize the purpose of their work > Let them experience firsthand how their unique contributions help other people and allow the team to progress

To read the full article from HBR, click here.


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