Hiring the Right People and The Myth of Motivation

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On December 1, 2017

If you’re the leader of a growing business you already know that your people—especially those on your leadership team—are one of your most critical resources. That’s why there are so many books and seminars that address how to motivate employees and get the most out of them. But is that the right approach? I’d like to take a look at hiring the right people and the myth of motivation

I’m not saying that motivation isn’t important. It’s hugely important. The myth comes from thinking that we can (or should) motivate people to do something they don’t want to do (or perhaps can’t do). As a business leader, your job really isn’t to motivate unmotivated people. It’s to hire people who are self-motivated and then give them the tools, guidance, and resources to do what they already want to do.

It all begins with hiring the right people. Sounds simple, right? Of course, if it were easy Human Resources departments would only need to work part-time. But there are certain things to look for when hiring key employees.

Patrick Lencioni talks about how to spot what he calls “Ideal Team Players” when you’re hiring. He describes three key attributes.

First, he says to keep your eyes open for people who are humble. That’s generally not the first thing recruiters (or business leaders) look for. Why is it so important? A humble person puts the needs of the team/company before his or her own desires. This doesn’t mean they are pushovers or doormats. It does mean that these people understand it’s not all about them. It’s about the overall success of the company.

Then Lencioni recommends looking for people who are hungry. They want to work hard. They want to take on challenges. They volunteer for tasks instead of waiting for them to be assigned. They don’t need to be motivated because they are self-motivated.

Finally, Lencioni suggests looking for people who are smart. Obviously this encompasses a certain amount of raw intelligence. You want to find prospects with knowledge and experience (or the obvious ability to quickly learn). But being smart goes beyond industry or technical knowledge. It’s also essential to identify people who are smart with regard to interpersonal relationships. They need to understand how to work with others to accomplish corporate goals.

Here’s the beauty of this approach. Instead of trying to motivate your people (which probably isn’t going to happen anyway) you can invest your resources (time, energy, money) on developing and equipping these people. It’s a much more rewarding experience—both financially and personally.

Contact me to find out more about how to identify and attract the kind of employees who will be self-motivated and help you transform your organization into the high-growth business you want it to be.