Do You Demonstrate Self-Motivation at Work?

These four insights can help you build a productive and successful career

By David Cox, SPHR, SHRM-SCP | September 19, 2017

Being self-motivated is vitally important to achieving success as an employee. There is little more infuriating to employers than the aspect of having to motivate someone to do the job they were hired to do. No employer has the time to “monitor” every employee just to make sure they get their work done.

Self-motivated employees maintain their productivity and focus at work. Several factors can diminish motivation, such as a bad supervisor, a toxic work environment, little appreciation, and a low salary (which can even make an experienced, high performing employee lose motivation). However, an employee whose self-motivation is high typically overcomes these limiting factors and proves more successful in a competitive work environment.

Remember, no other person can maintain your motivation for you. Remaining self-motivated is your responsibility. If you are wondering how to stay motivated, here a few insights that can help raise your level of motivation and better enable you to achieve your goals at work.

What is self-motivation?

Being self-motivated is about doing your job well because you want to, and not simply because you get paid for doing it. Self-motivated individuals want to be the best they can be regardless of where they work and the responsibilities of their job.

Self-motivated individuals tend to:

  • Work longer hours than others
  • Learn new skills and participate in continuing education
  • Take ownership of problems in their work area
  • Become leaders on their teams
  • Go “above and beyond” their job description

Why do employers want self-motivated people?

Self-motivated employees need a lot less managing than those who are less than inspired to do their jobs well.  It’s no wonder that self-motivated people are highly sought after by recruitment agencies and HR departments.

If you are self-motivated, you will want everything you do to be of the highest quality, and you will always strive to see the bigger picture at work. Self-motivated individuals are motivated by improving themselves, and the only way they can do this is by making the company they work for better for all the stakeholders they serve.

How Can You Demonstrate Self-Motivation?

Desire and self-motivation are easy to demonstrate at work, but more difficult to demonstrate to a prospective employer.   In a job interview, you can expect to be asked questions about times when you have risen to a challenge or taken control of a situation.  Employers are looking for people who have taken charge of a situation and solved problems creatively or innovatively.

You can also share how you’ve demonstrated self-motivation by emphasizing the quality of your work and the impact it’s had in your prior educational and/or employment roles.

How is self-motivation demonstrated in the workplace?

As stated, it’s much easier to demonstrate self-motivation once you’ve secured a job.  Little things like getting to work ten minutes early are noticed.  Make sure you ask your new manager questions and show a desire to do well.  If your employer identifies an issue on the job, don’t start “thinking aloud.”  Take time, think about it, consider all the factors involved, and try to come up with a workable solution.  And always remember, a little enthusiasm can go a long way in communicating a proposed solution.

Motivation cannot be instilled, taught, or created.  However, you need to maintain a high level of motivation to be more productive and successful in your career.  Even top performers and highly motivated employees face times when they need to regain motivation.  Moreover, in this competitive work environment, I guarantee that employers will give their self-motivated employees priority consideration as leadership roles and advancement opportunities become available.

David Cox


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