1. The Laws of Motivation
2. The Laws of Motivation
For those of you who have that great responsibility in managing, These are two really pertinent and soul searching questions that
leading and motivating others, let me ask you these two questions: every manager should ask themselves regularly, as they must build
a foundation for the principles that will be conducive to a healthy
What sort of manager would you like to be management style.
managed by? Here we will look at the laws of motivation. One could argue that
they are principles rather than laws, but I prefer to use the word
And secondly: ‘laws’ because it implies that if you break them, you will receive
Are you that sort of person?
3. Law 1
We have to be Motivated to Motivate
It is impossible to motivate another person if you yourself are not motivated.
What sort of manager do you want to be managed by? The manager who
arrives at work before anybody else, who is enthusiastic, positive, always has a
bit of good news to pass on, is loyal and leads by example? A manager who
has a purpose – in other words, a MOTIVATED MANAGER?
I have met so many managers who demand and expect that their employees
should be more motivated, yet in looking at these managers themselves it is
absolutely apparent why they are not getting what they hope for.
I chaired a conference for some two hundred senior managers of a major UK
public company. It became apparent that this was their second conference at
attempting to launch a new management style and strategy. Not only was the
new system not fully understood but it had not been enthusiastically
embraced by the senior executives. It came to light that one of the root
causes for the lack of enthusiasm and motivation to change lay on the
shoulders of one person. They key manager responsible for the roll-out of the
programme had been made redundant shortly before the first conference and
was then invited back for a six-month contract just to communicate and
implement the strategy. What an odd management decision!
If you want to motivate another person, you have to
be motivated yourself.
4. Law 2
Motivation Requires a Goal
It is impossible for any individual, or for that matter, any team or
group of people, to be motivated without a clear and specific goal.
Motivation, as I have already said, is about striving towards the
future and without a goal, there is no purpose.
It is sad that so few people do have goals and even more devastating
that many have no hope. In fact many people wake up in the
morning and their first reaction is one of surprise – that they have
survived the night! They have no purpose, no goals and nothing that
they are looking forward to achieving or doing.
We all know how apathy can creep in when there is no hope. All of
us must have hope.
We must be looking forward to something and
so goals and objectives must be set.
5. Law 3
Motivation, Once Established, Never Lasts
This law stems from a common management misjudgement. I That is only one example of on-going motivation, but please do
attend many conferences every year and one of the main objectives accept that just because an individual might be motivated today, it
of company conferences is to get everybody together, impart doesn’t mean they will be motivated tomorrow.
information on past performance, tell them the news and set out the
goals and plans for the future. The overall objective is to send the A person can be motivated at their workplace and be demotivated in
participants and delegates back home with their batteries recharged their home environment and vice versa. That alone is a good enough
and highly motivated. And most conferences do achieve that reason why every individual should understand the power of
objective. But that motivation and warm feeling does not last. It is a motivation, understand themselves, how they feel and why they
bit like blowing up a balloon – if you don’t tie a knot in the inlet, the react; what causes them to be happy or unhappy and what inspires
air will come back out again. Motivation should and must be an on- them to do just that little bit more.
going process. It is not a once a year booster.
Some organisations have a yearly appraisal where each member of
We must all understand what really
staff meets for private discussion with their superior and where their demotivates us and then take steps to prevent
performance is appraised. This, of course, can be a motivational it happening as frequently as possible.
exercise as well as a demotivational one. But the purpose of
appraisal, if it is conducted correctly, is motivational – where one I can be demotivated by a motor car that won’t go or a letter on a
discusses strengths and weaknesses and draws up plans of action Saturday morning from my bank manager. I have since taken the
and self-improvement for the future. steps necessary to prevent or eliminate those causes of
But in some organisations this is the only time a person’s demotivation. Regular care and maintenance of the vehicle is
performance is discussed with a superior – just once a year. certainly extremely effective. As far as the bank is concerned, when I
Therefore, accepting that appraisals can be motivational, apart from have either changed banks or my manager has changed, we have an
the essential requirement of correcting unproductive performance or interview and I explain the terms upon which my account will be
behaviour, it makes sense to have a more regular, perhaps quarterly, conducted and if ever a letter arrives on a Saturday morning, the
schedule of mini-appraisals as well. account will be removed!
6. Law 4
Motivation Requires Recognition
This is such a powerful law. Continue to break it and you will never At one particular conference I attended, the chairman was awarding
have around you people who are truly motivated. bottles of champagne to star performers and these bottles had been
earned by sales volume achieved. As he finished handing out the last
Recognition comes in so many different forms: from the Peerage to bottle, he asked the audience whether he had left anybody out. One
the ‘thank you’ letter; from the way you introduce somebody to the poor individual raised his hand in the air. A dumfounded expression
admiring of a vase of flowers at home. appeared on the chairman’s face and he was overheard to say to the
People will strive harder for recognition than for almost any other assistant on the platform. ‘Who the bloody hell is that?’ Fortunately,
single thing in life. Recognition can be a compliment. If you are a the assistant knew the salesperson’s name. They both peered into a
parent you no doubt have experienced your child returning home bundle of record forms and in due course the chairman announced
from school with some work. It may be a picture he or she has that, yes, the individual was right. They had made a mistake but,
painted, and you as a parent admire that picture, show it to other luckily, they had a spare bottle and the poor fellow came to get his
members of the family and pin it up on the wall. The result will be, reward. An otherwise successful recognition event had been
as I am sure you have noticed, not only a motivated child but also devalued.
Genuine compliments are a form of recognition and it takes a ‘big It takes a ‘big thinking’
thinking’ person to give another a compliment. Small minded people person to give another
are unable ever to recognise the achievements of others.
In business, companies give recognition at conferences where they
thank members of staff for performance, achievement and loyalty,
etc. It is a golden rule that when giving recognition, nobody should
7. Law 5
There has been an enormous trend, starting in the mid-1980s, of and demoralised group. I discovered, by asking a lot of questions,
company management buy-outs, and in many cases what previously that there had been a senior management change. The sales team
were fairly unprofitable companies were turned round to become now felt that they were being dictated to, that their opinions were no
enormous successes. In many of these schemes there was greater longer sought or valued and that they were not involved in decision
share ownership with the employees demonstrating that making. Here was a situation I had to resolve. Next morning, I met
participation does motivate. with the new manager and we spent two hours successfully sorting
out the various viewpoints. The new manager had not been
People are often more motivated by how they are used in a job than communicating at all prior to our meeting.
by how they are treated. Where people feel they are part of an
experiment or part of a project they will show a much higher level of
motivation. Sell your ideas. Don’t just tell them. Get your
So by getting people involved you will create a more motivated people to embrace them.
individual or group of people.
Many managers do not share their plans, goals and objectives. They
do not let people experience a pioneering spirit. In January 1993, I
was running a two-day sales course. Having arrived at the hotel, I
met up with some of the delegates and discovered a demotivated
8. Law 6
Seeing Ourselves Progressing Motivates Us
This is another law that you must understand fully. confidence. The importance of this example is understanding why or
how one feels. This knowledge will help people’s action to become
When we see ourselves progressing, moving forward and achieving, motivated and, in turn, they will find and develop ways of
we will always be more motivated. When we see ourselves going progressing.
backwards, we will be demotivated
I have met many people who find tremendous peace of mind after
In the early 1990s, the UK experienced a period of dramatic bankruptcy. The devastating period of desperation and worry is
demotivation. This was in part caused by the rapid decrease in removed once the bankruptcy takes place. From then on, one can
property values in the late 1980s. Due to world economic problems only go back up again.
and various other factors, house and land prices fell from anything
up to 50 per cent in certain parts of Britain.
It’s the fear of wondering what else can go
People saw themselves as less wealthy, albeit paper wealth, and the
resulting response was a dramatic loss of confidence, uncertainty, wrong or can happen that causes the
demotivation, a feeling of being out of control and very little demotivated feeling.
unnecessary expenditure. Money was channelled to the essentials
rather than the luxuries. It is a human characteristic that when we see ourselves progressing
in whatever form that may be, we are definitely more motivated.
Also during this time there was a tremendous demotivation amongst
Whether in our private or business life, our hobbies, sports and
the property owning fraternity as they saw houses rapidly losing
interests, when we see ourselves moving forward, we just want to go
value and mortgages exceeded their new net worth. The nation and
its people were in recession and they saw no proverbial light at the
end of the tunnel – so there was massive demotivation. This law has to be used, worked on, managed and planned in order
to maintain a high level of motivation.
This is an example of demotivation caused by circumstances outside
the majority of people’s control. This, in turn, led to massive under-
9. Law 7
Challenge Only Motivates If You Can Win
A challenge will only motivate a person if they think they have a Challenge does motivate. People will rise to the occasion. Challenge
chance of success. them to get something worthwhile done and nine times out of ten
they will do it. More and more managers are finding that work in
I have seen too many contests and competitions organised by sales itself can be a motivator. Not just work as a drudgery but other
managers with the object of inspiring people to greater sales results. aspects of work such as responsibility, challenge and a feeling of
They have not understood this law and then wondered why only one doing something worthwhile.
or two people were motivated by the contest to raise their
performance, grasp the challenge and reap the reward. One can make a person’s work more challenging by giving them the
biggest job he or she can handle - and with the responsibility must,
Contests, competitions and challenges are extremely effective and of course, come the credit of achievement.
most certainly do inspire people to greater activity. But those who
should be participating must believe that they have a chance to win.
I have seen an instance where a company provided a two-week Those who should be participating must
holiday for two in the Bahamas as a prize. It was open to all
members of a forty strong sales force. The prize was to be awarded believe that they have a chance to win
to the person who got the most sales in a three-month period. Three
people out of the sales team of forty set out on the challenge. These
three had the biggest area by territory, had the biggest volume of
customers and enquiries all ready to handle. They had also
consistently been in the top three for the previous two years. The
remainder of the sales force were in actual fact demotivated by this
challenge as they knew they had little or no chance of success. The
difference between them was so vast that it was near enough
impossible to make up the ground.
10. Law 8
Everybody Has a Motivational Fuse
This law says that everybody can be motivated. They may have the Isn’t it extraordinary how jobs don’t care about people? It is what
fuse but we don’t know at what point it will ignite. Sometimes it is people care about the job that makes the difference. One person can
just not cost effective to continue trying to spark a person into quite emphatically state and believe it is the worst job humanity has
activity or greater performance. ever created. Yet another taking on that same job, with a different
attitude, will say and believe it is the greatest job ever created and
Every one of us does have a fuse, and an effective motivational how fortunate they are to have it.
manager will try many ways to spark somebody into a more
motivated mode of behaviour. When one tries and fails, the manager So in handling this law, as a motivator, you must understand that
in many cases blames himself; and for any manager one of the most everybody does have a fuse and they can be sparked into life. Equally
unpleasant duties is to fire an employee. But sometimes this can be you must accept that sometimes the effort and time involved just
the best course of action because, as we have already said, it may be might not be cost effective.
the environment that is not conducive to effective performance. On
the other hand, it could be the attitude of the individual that is
determinedly unwilling to change; the individual that perpetually
points the finger and says: ‘It’s not my fault, it’s everybody else’s. It’s
the company, the product, the paperwork. It’s the manager. In fact,
my job is a lousy job.’
You must understand that everybody does
have a fuse and they can be sparked into life.
11. Law 9
Group Belonging Motivates
This law emphasises the importance for people to have a feeling of In some cases it may be a name that is created; for example, the
belonging. The smaller the unit to which they belong the greater the leader of the team’s surname is used as the team name. In other
loyalty, motivation and effort. organisations group belonging is created by their department: the
production department, the marketing department, the sales
When you were at school, no doubt there was a school team and department and so on. And where one has created this feeling of
there was a house team. I suggest that when the house teams were group belonging the good motivational manager will create extra
playing each other, greater excitement, emotion, loyalty and curricular activities that draw their people together. These might
motivation was apparent than when the school team was playing. include a summer barbecue, a trip to the theatre, regular team
Let’s extend that analogy. What causes more emotion amongst meetings and briefings. T-shirts, pens and diaries can also create a
supporters and in turn raises the ticket prices on the black market – feeling of belonging to a team.
is it the Cup final or the national team playing another country? The
supporters of local teams show who they belong to by wearing the But do accept that group belonging
scarves, the hats and the badges of their team – they want to belong.
Everybody, of course, is an ‘employee’ by being part of a company or
organisation, but a good motivational manager will also make their
people part of a team.
12. Pocket Reminders
• We have to be motivated to motivate
• Motivation requires a goal
• Motivation, once established, never lasts
• Motivation requires recognition
• Participation motivates
• Seeing ourselves progress motivates us
• Challenge only motivates if you can win
• Everybody has a motivational fuse
• Belonging to a group motivates
13. Did you know?
The Richard Denny Group is a leading provider of all kinds of
training to help your business. We specialise in:
• Leadership training
• Sales training
• Communication training
• Motivation training
• Customer care training
Richard Denny is a highly successful businessman. Chairman of Some other websites that might be useful
the Richard Denny Group, he is also the author of four bestselling
books, Selling to Win, Motivate to Win, Communicate to Win and The Richard Denny Group:
Succeed for Yourself. For over 20 years, Richard Denny has been www.denny.co.uk
sharing his ideas on success and achievement around the world. Richard Denny for speaking and conferences:
A highly sought after motivational speaker, he has helped literally www.richarddenny.co.uk
thousands of people to success. He is married with five sons, and
lives in Gloucestershire, UK. The Richard Denny blog, Thought for the Day:
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"If every manager practised the message from Richard Denny’s book
on motivation, people would enjoy their work and the results would
Philip Williamson, CEO, Nationwide