How do you motivate?

Simon Kent finds that when the going gets tough, training professionals get
going, as he asks how they rise to the challenge of inspiring people during
these uncertain times

When an organisation is doing well, and when training is directly linked
to an increase in status or remuneration, there is little doubt that attendees
will hang on every word of their trainers.

But what about when times aren’t so good? Over the past year, global
recession has threatened the livelihood of many employees. Add to this the
effects of the recent international events and motivation becomes a real
challenge among staff worried for their future.

We ask training professionals for their views on how to motivate people,
whether for a specific training exercise or more generally, when times are

Diane Claughton
European technology education co-ordinator, Chubb Insurance

Learners’ motivation can be influenced well in advance of their arrival in
the classroom. In our role of supporting learning for IT systems, it is
important to understand and then communicate the big picture – identifying
potential catalysts for resistance to change, then highlighting not just the
organisational benefits, but the benefits to the individual.

Knowing your audience is key, as is seeking ways to make learning timely,
appropriate and, of course, fun. Our approach is to liaise directly with
business sponsors throughout projects. Senior managers often contribute to and
participate in learning events, providing valuable and visible support to
training initiatives.

Fiona Walsh
Corporate training director, ACS Corporate Training

Motivation is an art – there is no point setting up fantastic, relevant and
worthy training sessions if the audience has a basic demotivation problem, be
it financial, physical, environmental or interpersonal. Know your people,
understand what motivates them as individuals and remember that different
things will motivate different people at different times.

When times are particularly difficult, we need to really understand how we
can support and understand the workforce. This can only be done via sensitive
and effective communication and when we understand the issues we need to either
put right the wrongs or, if we cannot, communicate back explaining why and
asking for suggestions on alternative solutions.

Aly McCallum
Training and development manager, United Co-op

In my experience as a line manager and a trainer, I have tried various
approaches to motivate individuals, however, I keep returning to the same
principles time and time again.

These principles are:

– Tell me what is expected from me

– Give me the resources to do that which is expected

– Tell me how I am doing at regular intervals

– Give me guidance wherever it is appropriate

– Reward me in line with the contribution I make to the business.

For motivational purposes, the first and third points are crucial for

Individuals are likely to perform more effectively when they know what is
expected of them. It is the manager or coaches’ responsibility to set clear
objectives, ensuring individuals know their responsibilities.

Regular feedback on and reinforcement of the performance will also assist in
individuals performing more effectively.

Aileen Downie
Training and development manager, GNER

A strong, charismatic leader is absolutely key. Throughout history, in any
war or major incident, there is generally one figure who stands out, rallying
people and giving them a goal to work towards. Either in a harmful way,
rallying people through fear or greed, or in a positive way, through love or
hope for a better future.

Some leaders do emerge as a result of the tough times, hence the saying
"when the going gets tough, the tough get going". Our own experiences
at GNER is that for people to be truly motivated, the environment within the
company must also be right.

Our natural instinct in GNER, which we’ve developed over the years as part
of our customer service focus, is to help people to pull out all of the stops
and do whatever is needed to look after other people, as if they are family.

Ian Lawson
Training manager, Lyreco

At Lyreco we have thought hard about motivation. We believe that you can’t
motivate anybody, all you can do is create a motivational environment in which
you hope your people will respond. This requires our managers to find out what
makes their people tick, if you like, to understand what is going to get their
people out of bed in the morning.

A simple "thank you" goes a long way, but people like to be
recognised. This may be in writing, printed in our monthly magazine or visible
on stage at our annual conference.

Remember, when creating a motivational environment, it is different strokes
for different folks, but to get anywhere you must genuinely care about your

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