How do people managers motivate teams?

I would love to have some thoughts on the following topic:
I’ve been thinking a lot about how can we as people managers can increase the sense fo urgency over our people to the challenges and problems company and products could face.
And I’m talking about this as the way to teach junior people to get hungry and feel ownership of the challenges they’re facing to get successful. I don’t like to think about it as a deal breaker for hiring, or a sign of poor employee engagement, I think about as this people are junior on their role and there is an opportunity to grow them.
I saw a lot of people missing this hungry and sense of urgency in LatAm, like time was unlimited and free, and it start becoming the main difference between hiring in Latam and hiring in the US. Could it be something cultural? What are the strategies you use to train people on this?


The primary company I work with provides services in English, Chinese, Korean, and a few other languages.
I typically find that culture can be part of it, but not always. You can’t really teach it, and I believe it transcends culture. There’s no training people to feel hungry if they don’t. You can incentivize it (and probably should) with bonuses etc.
Practically - all you can really do is get to know people better before you hire them.
Hope that helps.


Yeah, I’m feeling that way about this topic, and it feels kind of sad to think about it in that way. Also, the bonuses strategy, makes me feel that they are there for the money, and not for the challenge. I think this is bad, cause I’m there for the challenge, and my paid is what my job deserves. I would like to think about bonuses as a reward for an amazing impact on the business instead of incentive for hungry .Summarize, I think that the answer is here:

Practically - all you can really do is get to know people better before you hire them.


I like your sentiments around bonuses - the thing is that it’s very impractical to expect people to approach a role that way for longer than a year. Founders and people with a piece of the business often have a different drive to succeed (ownership). Same with folks who head their departments (typically they have pretty good incentives for their success anyway).Not my place to try to change your mind, and I don’t want to. I’ve worked with a few dozen businesses and superstar employees - esp. with this kind of motivation - who are hired at the bottom. They either get promoted to the top quickly or just leave within the year (see current retention issues).The really good ones know to negotiate that career path to begin with (so in a way they’re incentivized anyway). Employee retention becomes an issue if not delivered. So companies just end up paying out whatever it takes to keep them anyway. The era of that kind of drive is ending with Gen Z - who’s exposed to a different scale of success among their Gen Z peers. Agree with you though - it’s sad to say. I was once that employee at my first job and the fact is that it just wasn’t worth it. When people are actually hungry it’s hard to ask them to take that kind of risk for the promise of “growth” in unwritten terms. If the company will have an idea of what to expect if the employee were to crush it, the employee should also know what they’ll get for doing so. Employers who seek this kind of drive and motivation but aren’t willing to write down what they’ll compensate for it is a huge red flag for young job seekers. Hope that helps

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Another angle that is a struggle for many is the services vs. product mentality. Services have a built-in sense of urgency that most relate to easily: Client paid for X by Y and this is how we get paid.
Product is fuzzier: Often no one is explicitly waiting for X by Y, “the market” doesn’t resonate as a driver of urgency, and we already make money from Z.
As mentioned, driving home the purpose is really the only way to overcome this, combined with constantly sharing the outcomes of what’s been shipped.

I know I am a bit late to the conversation, but would love some clarification. Your initial question of ‘How do people managers motivated teams’ strikes me differently than your follow up question, ‘…how can we as people managers increase the sense of urgency over our people…’. The former feeling philosophical and the latter more mechanical.

How can we better motivate our teams? Instinctively, I am aware that at the heart of it we are discussing people and I want to frame solutions that are people-centric or people-oriented, because as a person this just makes sense to me. However, I often find myself falling into a more machine-centric mindset and end up executing a plan that is ‘solution-oriented’ and fails to address much of the humanity that I started with. This often leads me to feel frustrated as I’ve drawn the map, navigated a way, can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I cannot get others to follow me out.

How do people managers motivate teams? How do ‘self-starters’ and ‘driven individuals’ ignite the flame they feel inside those they work with? Osmosis? While I jest, I am genuinely curious. I feel this frustration often when I am particularly excited about setting out on a goal and am surrounded by others who claim to share that same excitement, but wind up alone and confused on my self-blazoned trail, questioning why people are they way they are.

Within the parameters of unfamiliarity and short time frames, how do people motivate other people to accomplish a goal they all agreed upon completing?

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