Fostering Relationships: Watering Dirt
Anyone who has ever tried to motivate someone has experienced this struggle...
"Are we just watering dirt?"
I.e. - can we really do anything, say anything, offer any incentive that will nurture growth in this person or are we just wasting valuable resources?
It is a difficult and frustrating situation to be in. One that causes you to second guess your abilities, your strategies and ultimately your decision to have that person on the team.
When you find yourself in this position, talk through the following points:
1. Everyone has a price. You probably need to change the currency you are using with that person. Is she motivated by money, position, prestige, responsibility, autonomy, appreciation, social status, etc.? Find what works for her that also aligns with what you can give and give it.
2. Everyone needs their best inspired out of them. Even the most cynical person responds to words and acts of encouragement, appreciation and thanks. Some will never tell you, but this doesn't change the fact that it works.
3. Everyone is self-motivated. At the end of the day, people must move on their own. They will also do it on their own timeline. You can mandate her actions, but you can not mandate her BEST actions. (BEST - Better Every Single Time - Source: Kelly Barnes)
4. Everyone needs someone to believe in them more than they do. Sometimes it's a race to see who will give up first. If you throw in the towel before she does, you might miss something special. Give her your best and see what happens.
5. Everyone needs honesty from their leaders. Once you do all you can, if she is still not showing progress or living up to clear expectations, it is time to let her go. This could be just what she needs to make a change. Wake-up calls happen in life and serve as opportunities to see how our actions are pulling us down instead of lifting us up. If you care about her, be honest. Don't pass the buck or let her ignore what everyone can see except for her.
When done correctly and with class and spirit, these concepts will show you it was more than dirt you were watering - an unseen seed was waiting for you to help it grow.