7 Steps to Motivation through Mastery

June 8, 2017 © Copyright Glomacs

7 Steps to Motivation through MasteryGetting the best from team members has always been high on the priority list for supervisors, managers and leaders.

To achieve this, managers have traditionally set direction, supervised closely and rewarded or reprimanded depending on output. However, over the last decade research by Ryan, Deci and others has shown that an approach which relies on extrinsic incentives like bonuses or promotions to improve productivity are at best short-lived in their motivational effects.

Daniel Pink in his best-selling book ‘Drive’ develops this research into what he calls ‘The new science of motivation’ which focuses on how to encourage motivation from within. He states that this approach revolves around three elements:

  • Autonomy‘The urge to direct our own lives’
  • Mastery ‘The desire to get better and better at something that matters’
  • Purpose ‘The yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves’

In line with this approach the job of people managers now becomes one of creating the conditions in which these elements can flourish. This is one where people willingly give more discretionary effort or ‘go the extra mile’ thereby accomplishing results that even they themselves did not think they were capable of.

Let us put the spotlight on Pink’s Mastery element. What can you do to create the conditions where people feel motivated from feeling a sense of pride in mastering elements of their work? Here are seven pointers to get you started.

1. Talk to your team as individuals and find out what their passion is both inside and outside of work. Do they have a hidden skill? Do they have a burning desire to develop an idea? How can they connect this to improving their work output? All too often talent is trapped simply because it doesn’t fit within their immediate role description. Part of your job as a people manager is to unearth it and help release it both for the benefit of the individual and the company.

2. Actively encourage your people to publicise their skills or achievements both within and outside of the team. Ask them to do a breakfast meeting for the rest of the team.

When they have reached a high level of mastery in an area arrange for them to demonstrate it in other parts of the company – at other teams’ meetings, seminars and conferences. Encourage them to represent the company at external conferences.

3. Take photographs and videos of their mastery in action. These days you don’t need to be a professional photographer to do so – just pick up your smart phone and start shooting. When you have enough material post the photos and pictures on company web sites and social media.

Alternatively, print the pictures and create a hall of fame mastery board around your team. Making this visible to not only gives your masters a feeling of pride but also enhances the public image of your team.

4. Allocate a set individual budget to develop the skill or knowledge even further through training, coaching, mentoring.

5. Set the expectations of the master; push them to learn more. Encourage their ideas and allow them to experiment.

6. Encourage the team to give positive names or nicknames to other team members respecting their craft or art and creating legends e.g. ‘The PowerPoint Guy’, ‘The Numbers Woman’, ‘The Organiser’.

7. Encourage them to find a role model; someone who has attained a higher order of skills. Help them find that person and encourage regular contact with them.

Finally, remember that for many people it will come as a shock to be trusted with developing and motivating themselves in this way. They may be more used to being ‘motivated’ by being controlled and directed.

This means you need to show them that you will give them the freedom to develop their talent. It may mean you need to challenge your own temptation to interfere and control. Challenge yourself to ‘give them the ball and let them run with it. The pay-off will be satisfying and long-lasting.

To further develop and incorporate such techniques into your own style why not sign up to one of these Glomacs training courses and develop your own mastery in people management!



Richard Ryan, Edward Deci (2017) Self-Determination Theory: Basic Psychological Needs in Motivation, Development, and Wellness

Daniel Pink (2011) Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us

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