Ever wished you had a Motivational Coach? We all want to be more productive but getting motivated enough to actually get things done can seem impossible. Especially when things fall out of alignment – or challenges begin to stack up. That’s when finding the right high performance personal coaching professional can really make a difference.
Social scientists, psychologists and counsellors have been studying motivation and factors that go to making and effective motivational coach for decades, trying to find out what motivates our behaviour, how it works and why some things are easier to do whilst others are just not fun.
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Dozens of theories of motivation have been proposed over the years. I tend to favour motivational coach theories that are simple to put into action in daily life. This way, you can make a commitment to change and then bring it to reality as part of your daily routine. And it forms a habit – and becomes part of your lifestyle.
Out of the plethora of cognitive tools out there, I have put together a series on the benefits of life coaching based on sound science. Here are 5 motivational coach theories of personal motivation that you can put to use immediately to imrove your quality of life. Use them in affirmations, with goal setting, building your strengths, and to increase your productivity.
1. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
The Hierarchy of Needs theory was coined by psychologist Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation”.
The crux of the theory is that individuals’ most basic needs must be met before they become motivated to achieve higher level needs.
The hierarchy is made up of 5 levels:
1. Physiological – these needs must be met in order for a person to survive, such as food, water and shelter.
2. Safety – including personal and financial security and health and wellbeing.
3. Love/belonging – the need for friendships, relationships and family.
4. Esteem – the need to feel confident and be respected by others.
5. Self-actualisation – the desire to achieve everything you possibly can and become the most that you can be.
According to the hierarchy of needs, you must be in good health, safe and secure with meaningful relationships and confidence before you are able to be the most that you can be.
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Chip Conley, founder of the Joie de Vivre hotel chain and Head of Hospitality at Airbnb, used the Hierarchy of Needs pyramid to transform his business. According to Chip, many managers struggle with the abstract concept of self actualization and so focus on lower levels of the pyramid instead.
Conley found one way of helping with higher levels was to help his employees understand the meaning of their roles during a staff retreat…
“In one exercise, we got groups of eight housekeepers at a table and asked an abstract question: if someone from Mars came down and saw what you were doing as a housekeeper in a hotel, what name would they call you? They came up with “The Serenity Sisters,” “The Clutter Busters,” and “The Peace of Mind Police.” There was a sense that people were doing more than just cleaning a room. They were creating a space for a traveler who was far away from home to feel safe and protected.”
Conley’s team were able to realise the importance of their job to the company and to the people they were helping. By showing them the value of their roles, the team were able to feel respected and motivated to work harder.
In order to get the most out of your team, you should also make sure you support them in other aspects of their lives outside work. Perhaps you could offer flexible working hours to give employees time to focus on their families and make sure they are paid fairly to help them feel financially stable.
2. Three-Dimensional Theory of Attribution
Attribution Theory explains how we attach meaning to our own, and other people’s, behaviour. There are a number of theories about attribution.
Bernard Weiner’s Three-Dimensional theory of attribution assumes that people try to determine why we do what we do. According to Weiner, the reasons we attribute to our behaviour can influence how we behave in the future.
For example, a student who fails an exam could attribute their failure to a number of factors and it’s this attribution that will affect their motivation in the future.
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Weiner theorised that specific attributions (e.g. bad luck, not studying hard enough) were less important than the characteristics of that attribution. According to Weiner, there are three main characteristics of attributions that can affect future motivation.
A. Stability – how stable is the attribution? For example, if the student believes they failed the exam because they weren’t smart enough, this is a stable factor. An unstable factor is less permanent, such as being ill.
According to Weiner, stable attributions for successful achievements, such as passing exams, can lead to positive expectations, and thus higher motivation, for success in the future.
However, in negative situations, such as failing the exam, stable attributions can lead to lower expectations in the future.
B. Locus of control – was the event caused by an internal or an external factor?
For example, if the student believes it’s their own fault they failed the exam, because they are innately not smart enough (an internal cause), they may be less motivated in the future. If they believed an external factor was to blame, such as poor teaching, they may not experience such a drop in motivation.
C. Controllability – how controllable was the situation? If an individual believes they could have performed better, they may be less motivated to try again in the future than someone who believes they failed because of factors outside of their control.
Weiner’s Three-Dimensional theory of attribution has implications for employee feedback.
Make sure you give your employees specific feedback, letting them know that you know they can improve and how they can about it. This, in theory, will help prevent them from attributing their failure to an innate lack of skill and see that success is controllable if they work harder or use different strategies.
You could also praise your employees for showing an improvement, even if the outcome was still not correct. For example, you might praise someone for using the correct methodology even though the results weren’t what you wanted. This way, you are encouraging employees to attribute the failure to controllable factors, which again, can be improved upon in the future.
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3. Hertzberg’s Two-Factor Theory
The Two-Factor Theory of motivation (otherwise known as dual-factor theory or motivation-hygiene theory) was developed by psychologist Frederick Herzberg in the 1950s.
Analysing the responses of 200 accountants and engineers who were asked about their positive and negative feelings about their work, Herzberg found 2 factors that influence employee motivation and satisfaction…
1. Motivator factors – Simply put, these are factors that lead to satisfaction and motivate employees to work harder. Examples might include enjoying your work, feeling recognised and career progression.
2. Hygiene factors – These factors can lead to dissatisfaction and a lack of motivation if they are absent. Examples include salary, company policies, benefits, relationships with managers and co-workers.
According to Herzberg’s findings, while motivator and hygiene factors both influenced motivation, they appeared to work completely independently of each other…
While motivator factors increased employee satisfaction and motivation, the absence of these factors didn’t necessarily cause dissatisfaction. Likewise, the presence of hygiene factors didn’t appear to increase satisfaction and motivation but their absence caused an increase in dissatisfaction.
This theory implies that for the happiest and most productive workforce, you need to work on improving both motivator and hygiene factors.
To help motivate your employees, make sure they feel appreciated and supported. Give plenty of feedback and make sure your employees understand how they can grow and progress through the company.
To prevent job dissatisfaction, make sure that your employees feel that they are treated right by offering them the best possible working conditions and fair pay. Make sure you pay attention to your team and form supportive relationships with them.
Don’t forget that all of your employees are different and what motivates one person might not motivate another. Paul Hebert of Symbolist believes that benefits packages should not be one-size-fits all…
“For true engagement to occur in a company you must first remove the issues that cause dissatisfaction – the baseline benefits offered by the company that satisfy the hygiene needs of the employee. Then you must focus on the individual and what they want out of their association with your enterprise.”
The Hawthorne Effect was first described by Henry A. Landsberger in 1950 who noticed a tendency for some people to work harder and perform better when they were being observed by researchers. In personal coaching, this translates into self care and feedback. Whilst not being entirely dependent on seeking the approval of others – some kind of feedback does go a long way as a motivational coach technique.
The Hawthorne Effect is named after a series of social experiments on the influence of physical conditions on productivity at Western Electric’s factory at Hawthorne, Chicago in the 1920s.
The researchers changed a number of physical conditions over the course of the experiments including lighting, working hours and breaks. In all cases, employee productivity increased when a change was made. The researchers concluded that employees became motivated to work harder as a response to the attention being paid to them, rather than the actual physical changes themselves.
The Hawthorne Effect studies suggest that employees will work harder if they know they’re being observed. While I don’t recommend hovering over your employees watching them all day, you could try providing regular feedback, letting your team know that you know what they’re up to and how they’re doing.
5. Expectancy Theory
Expectancy Theory proposes that people will choose how to behave depending on the outcomes they expect as a result of their behaviour. In other words, we decide what to do based on what we expect the outcome to be. At work, it might be that we work longer hours because we expect a pay rise. If you know it won’t make a difference – you lower the sights.
However, Expectancy Theory also suggests that the process by which we decide our behaviours is also influenced by how likely we perceive those rewards to be. In this instance, workers may be more likely to work harder if they had been promised a pay rise (and thus perceived that outcome as very likely) than if they had only assumed they might get one (and perceived the outcome as possible but not likely)
Expectancy Theory is based on three elements:
- Expectancy – the belief that your effort will result in your desired goal. This is based on your past experience, your self confidence and how difficult you think the goal is to achieve.
- Instrumentality – the belief that you will receive a reward if you meet performance expectations.
- Valence – the value you place on the reward.
Therefore, according to Expectancy Theory, people are most motivated if they believe that they will receive a desired reward if they hit an achievable target. They are least motivated if they don’t want the reward or they don’t believe that their efforts will result in the reward.
The key is to set achievable goals for yourself and provide rewards that they actually want. The key word is meaningful and relevant.
Motivational Coach secrets are all about getting the best performance from yourself on the day. And that means fundamentally being responsible for your own performance – without losing yourself in a story, or making excuses or settling for a less than ideal version of yourself.