Motivating people by making them invested

*Post 6 in the 30 Posts in 30 Days Challenge

If you’re a business owner, it’s not hard to motivate people to do their work. In fact, they often do it no questions asked. Why? Well, if you’re being paid to do a job, and you need that job, you’re going to get your work done.

It’s different when you’re working with people who are volunteering their time. If you’re reading this blog, chances are you are a student who is involved with student clubs, community work, and non-profit experiences. If you are a student leader, you’re often going to come across the challenge of motivating your volunteers to be active and complete their tasks.

At the end of the day, the leader is going to be the most invested and held accountable for the results – that’s why being a leader is so tough. If you’ve seen Donald Trump’s reality show The Apprentice, you know that the project manager for each week’s competition is always one of the individuals on the chopping block. If anything goes wrong, the leader is always going to be one of the people held accountable.

Of course, the success of any team depends on the cohesiveness of the entire team. As we all know, when you’re a volunteer with nothing really to lose, it’s easy to stray off path and get lazy. So when you are working with volunteers, how do you keep them motivated and on task?

I was talking about this very idea with Shelly the other day and she told me about a friend of hers who coordinates a large student program. One of the things he did was spend some of the budget on getting all of the executive member volunteers “business cards”. I thought this was a fantastic idea because it 1.) makes the positions seem very legitimate/professional to the executives, and more importantly, 2.) it makes the executive feel like a real part of the program, and most importantly, 3.) it makes the executive member feel invested in the program. I mean you have a business card for gosh sake, are you really going to slack off and do nothing?

We see similar concepts in business. One question often asked when starting a company and looking to build the team is, should I offer someone a salary or should I offer them equity in the company (i.e. a share of ownership in the business)? The advantage of offering someone equity is that it makes them invested in the company – their individual success (i.e. the value of their equity in th business) is dependent on the success of the business. If the business grows, so does the value of their equity in the business. This means that they have an incentive to work harder and be committed. On the contrary, someone who is paid a salary has less incentive to work harder and be invested in the company.

So the next time you are having trouble motivating people, ask yourself, can I make them invested in any way?