Tuesday, July 6, 2010


A couple of years ago I went to Chichén Itzá in Mexico. I was amazed that the ancient Mayans built structures like the pyramid of Kukulkan seen here using only their hands and the simplest of tools. Even more amazing is the quarry for the stone used was over a mile away and the Mayans had not yet invented the wheel.  What would it have taken to motivate a group of people to build such an object?

I'm always amazed with peoples ability to stay motivated to complete a job. As someone involved in training I'm very interested in motivation and I'm always looking for new ways to tap into this ability.  Dictionary.com uses words like inducement or incentive when describing motivation.  I think of motivation as the 'reason' behind anything we do.

When I was a sales manager for a large chain of retail stores, what I found interesting was that money wasn't always a motivator for everyone.  This surprised me because the people in question had all chosen a career of sales.  Certainly sales is something that involves money.  I had several employees that were motivated by food and/or drink.  A plate of chicken wings and a pitcher of beer was usually all it took, however if I offered the same in cash, these individuals were not as motivated as the food and drink equivalent.

Within training, motivation comes from the affective domain.  This is the emotional side of training that involves how someone feels about a topic or task.  This is probably one of the most difficult things to train as peoples feelings vary from one to another.  You need to have people unlock there own potential much like a coach of a sports team.  Simply telling them what to do will not provide the motivation on it's own.  Instead have your learners figure out what the results of the change will mean to them and what types of rewards those changes will bring.  Like most things that we as professional trainers teach,  the most engaging stuff will be the things the learners have to do for themselves.