Motivation Matters

WITH THE new year off to a running start, one would hope that managers are preparing to enhance the motivational environment that those under their influence will experience. Below are some thoughts for leaders to help them provide an intrinsically-motivating atmosphere: One that is (at least to some degree) self-regulating, optimally challenging (with an eye toward growth), and truly a team effort.

1. Practice random acts of encouragement. Encouragement is far more potent than one would expect. When we feel appreciated and cared for, it supports the need for relatedness, a crucial element of intrinsic motivation. It also supports the need for competence (“I can do this!” “This could be an exciting project!”). Try looking for opportunities to use encouraging words with staff, both individually and collectively, and see what happens.

Dr. Paul P. Baard is an organizational psychologist, specializing in motivation. Formerly a full-time professor at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Business and a senior line executive in the television industry, he is the lead author of a book on leadership and motivation, and has been published broadly, including in Harvard Business Review. He and Veronica Baard, a former managing director responsible for HR at a major international investment banking firm, head up Baard Consulting LLC, a firm in the greater Boston area, focusing on motivation, conflict reduction, and team building. Questions are welcomed at