As we learned in the research for the book, “Take Charge of Your Talent,” the most powerful way to get more from a team is to tap the team members’ self-motivation. This shifts the dynamics from a boss or organization trying to “get people to do things” to “people wanting to contribute and do more.”


How can organizations do this?

The most pivotal step is to engage employees in talking about what their hopes are for their work. Reflect back what you hear and ask why those hopes are important to them. Go deep to find bedrock in the underlying self-motivation each employee has. Then, invite employees to think how they can pursue their hopes in their work.


Too many bosses fear asking employees about their hopes because they worry that the employees may ask for things that they can’t provide or the employees’ hopes won’t line up with what the organization needs. Or, worse, some bosses try to guess what should be important to employees. In case after case from professional services to high tech to retail, leaders discover that tapping employees’ self-motivation yields improved results with less stress.