How to motivate your employees to practice self-improvement.

Stop trying to motivate employees and start teaching them to be self-motivated and self-improve.

How to motivate your employees to practice self-improvement.
Photo by charlesdeluvio / Unsplash

Recently, another company asked me to give a group of their employees a crash course on Digital Marketing.

I quickly agreed to help them, but once I started planning my "training session" I realised that there might be an underlying flaw to the concept of "teaching" them to be better designers, marketers and/or thinkers.

In order to explain the flaw, I think it's best to describe how I learn a new skill and improve it to a level where it starts delivering results. Let's say for example that I want to become a better visual designer, to design graphics like this:

My Process

Step 1: Research the tools available

Firstly I will jump onto my search engine and start looking for different tools I can use, compare the pricing, limitations etc of each of these tools until I choose a tool that will work best for my scenario.

Step 2: Start playing around with the tool

Next, I will start playing around with the tool, see what it can do, see how well I can use it etc.

Inevitably I will run into some things that I don't yet know how to do, which leads me to the next step.

Step 3: Find learning resources and use them!

Next, I usually jump onto my search engine again and start looking for tutorials, youtube videos and communities where other users are sharing information on becoming a better visual designer.

Step 4: I reach out to peers and ask for their critique

This is not an easy one, but reach out to people in your circle and ask them for their honest opinion. Maybe they have some great advice on how you can improve your skills.

Step 5: Iterate and improve

This is perhaps the most important step. Learn a new lesson, use it next time and repeat the whole process again. This is the only way we can actually improve at any skill.

Why share all of these steps? I want to learn how to motivate my employees to self-improve!

In order to motivate your employees to self-improve, it's important to understand what it takes to actually improve yourself.

If you are an entrepreneur, chances are that you do the outlined process above on a daily basis.

If the bottom line of each month depends on YOU, there's no other choice than to improve yourself. It's sink or swim.

It's different if you are an employee

  • You get paid at the end of each month
  • Why would you put in extra time to improve yourself
  • You have many other responsibilities that need to be completed

Are you saying it's impossible to motivate employees to self-improve?

I am not saying it's impossible, but it's definitely not going to happen by itself. There are a few things you can do to create an environment where the process outlined above can flourish.

  1. Allow employees to try out different tools and approaches to solving problems in your business
  2. Encourage employees to experiment and play around with new tools
  3. Make resources available to your employees - if they are not exposed to new information, they won't be curious
  4. Give your employees constructive critique (NB - make sure they understand that you are not discouraging them to try new things, but you want them to learn from your critique and improve).
  5. Create an environment where continuous improvement and experiments are rewarded and not penalised.

Stop trying to motivate employees

Start teaching them to be self-motivated and self-improve

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