You see all kinds of articles and comments about how a “good leader motivates their people.” Leaders, Managers and even HR folks are tasked with solving problems which include improving morale and motivating others…but who motivates them?
As a HR professional, my entire career has been dedicated to helping improve my workplaces and grow my employees. I listen to the “problems” that they have trying to offer solutions. I serve as a sounding board when a manager has a problem with an employee and needs to both vent and find a solution. I keep an “open door” for employees to come talk to me about their frustrations with the job and/or their manager looking for help to change things before they give up and decide to look for another job. I joke that I am the “company counselor” at times…and even have a couch in my office now.
But, not once throughout my whole career, have any of those managers (or even my manager) stopped to think about whether I needed motivation or not. Its almost as it they just assume that when you job is to motivate others, the very act of successfully helping others should be motivating enough.
Don’t get me wrong – I do have a passion to help people…but I also want to be happy at my job as well. Just like them, I hit my low points as well when the “venting” becomes overwhelming, when complaints the employees share are the same ones I have as well but I’m at a loss to do anything about it and I know it…are times when I wish I had someone to vent to as well!
So, time for you to stop and take a look around you for a moment.
Who are the people that you know that are always motivating others?
Who are the “cheerleaders” in your life…both personally and professionally?
When is the last time you asked them how they were doing or cheered them on?
You may think “but they are a manager” or “they are in HR and can’t talk about what’s bothering them” and you may be right, but stopping to have a 10min conversation or inviting them out to lunch one day may give them the break in the day that they need to shake off what’s eating at them and be able to focus on helping others again. The ones that are always motivating others are the ones that need a push the hardest to take a break before they snap or crash.
If you are one of those motivators…keep in mind that those that vent to you either don’t know how to return the favor or can’t because they just aren’t capable of it. That’s why you are a valuable asset!
To keep from hitting frustration or burnout, there are two things that I have found helpful when I felt I had no one else to turn to: 1) go for a walk and listen to some music, and 2) pick a new hobby to try that will require your attention to carry out.
I am lucky enough to work along a lakefront so when things get overwhelming, I go out for a walk for 10min just to “get out” and clear my mind. It gives me enough time for a brain re-set that allows me to come back to the office ready to try again. I also decided to explore photography last year – learning different techniques and trying out the different “30 day challenges” that I have found. Then, I look at the photos afterwards to see if they tell a story that I didn’t notice when looking through the lens. It shuts out my day and gives me something else to focus on.
And of course, don’t rule out family and friends! They may not understand what you are going through, but they will listen, try to get you out for a while to unwind and cheer you on when you need that extra boost. Even the best motivator can benefit from a support system.