A post on Curious Company had an interesting statement
Stop Motivating People They Hate It
This resonated with me for several reasons. Motivation comes from internal forces. Attempts to motivate externally - that is I'm trying to motivate you to do something - only works at certain ages and in certain situations. We were fortunate enough to discover Parenting with Love and Logic early enough to apply some of the processes to our two children when they were accepting of our efforts. The result has been good. Both are in college, both are graduating more or less on time, one this May, one 1 year late since he added a dual major (Biochemistry and Cellular Biology, and then announced a Math Minor). But good kids and motivated to learn, share, grow, and play. I asked the Love and Logic guys if they were going to do a course for adults. The answer was it's too late, you have to get your kids on the right track, adults can't learn motivation in a way that is lasting. This by the way is why 97% of diets fail. A local riding group Phoenix Sports usues cycling as a recovery process, motivation seems to work there, but there are many external as well as internal motivators, not the least of which is to become a competent cyclist in an environment where pros share the road with amateurs.
In the business world I don't want to work with anyone who needs motivation. It's a waste of time, annoys the person and annoys me as to why I need to motivate someone I pay good money to do their job. But in reality it's a fact that some need motivation.
In the book Making the Impossible Possible, there is discussion around getting people to follow the leader and at the same time create their own solutions. This is called Positive Deviance. This may be the case of motivating, but it's in a different sense than getting people to do the right thing. PD is about as close to motivation as you should come in the business world.
In the Target Process site there is a quote let's try and do the best in the world at <something>. This can be applicable to anything actually, it doesn't have to be a fancy dancy agile project, er, software development management, tool. It can be regular work.
We just finished constructing and submitting the Contract Funds Status Report for one of our Army clients. A couple of 100 million dollars for funds had to be reconciled against the past work, the future work, the planned work, the spend rate, and the Management Reserve needed to delievr on-time, on-budget, and have the thing work as defined. This sounds like dreadful work to some. But for us it's not dreadful, it's quite exciting.
The past CFSR's were less than acceptable to the government, were not that great at forecasting the future need for money, and were pretty much lame. After 3 weeks of grueling work, with several 20 hour days, the team landed soft with a CSFR that is a thing of beauty. Every Control Account, every Work Package, every Activity foot and tied to the Contract Budget Base (the award value), tied off the the labor rating (how is charged for each person), the subcontractor contracts, commitments, and invoices, and all the other nitty aspects of spending the governments money.
Our team worked hard, played hard, and had a sense of accomplishment, learning (more than wanted to sometimes), comradeship, shared suffering, and shared success.
But no one and I mean no one on the team needed motivating to get their job done on time and 100% correct (the federal government has no tolerance for sloppy work, since there are instructions). We had a mission. We had a vision of what DONE looked like. We each knew our role, the role of the others, the tools, the data, the process. Motivation processes will do nothing to increase the probability of success. Period, it's a waste of time. Get the right people, in the right jobs, get the wrong people off the project (off the bus as Jim Collins says), and have all the advisors, by-standers, those with opinions but not contributions - out of the room, out of the building.
We almost did what was suggested in the post
You should not track time, you should not estimate effort, you should not set deadlines. You should trust people, set ambitious goals and help them learn. We did that.
We had to track time and we had to have a deadline, because we had a due date and we had limited hours to do the work, so we had to have a plan of the week, then a plan of the day, and in the last 3 days a plan of the hour, if we were going to get the CSFR out the door on time and 100% correct.
So take care with the advice of others if they are not working EXACTLY in your domain and context, or their advice is not based on immutable principles. Use their ideas as just that, ideas. But always get the right mission, vision, people, processes, and tools, so no one needs any motivation.