Motivation is More Important Than Information
I inherited a “blackboard” poster from a friend. I can write on it with chalk, erase it,
and use it again. But I don’t. It still says the same thing it did the day I received it:
“Knowing What To Do
Motivation > Information”
It’s absolutely true. Just because someone has been through training and “knows everything” doesn’t mean they’re going to instantly start doing everything the recommended way. In day-to-day terms, just because you know how to do the laundry or take out the trash doesn’t mean you want to do either of those things!
Why Motivation > Information
People who aren’t motivated don’t get things done, even if they’re knowledgeable. On the other hand, motivated people who don’t have the information they need try to find it.
Most Training Doesn’t Address Motivation, It Addresses Information
Sometimes motivation is the source of a performance problem in the first place. If root cause analysis reveals that a business’ employees “just don’t care,” all the information and training in the world won’t improve their job performance. So it’s important to consider pre-existing motivation levels before creating training, because sometimes information isn’t the issue and motivation is. In cases like these, introducing awards and recognition programs, or even consequences for non-compliance, can be more effective than a webinar or self-paced course.
When it comes to learning, motivation is critical for gaining attention and encoding new information in the brain. But, unfortunately, a lot of training doesn’t do anything to help motivate learners. But that’s been starting to change over the last little while. Gamification and game-based learning both take motivation into account. Not only are learners more willing to engage with content when it’s motivating and “fun,” they’re also more likely to access it more often. The more content is accessed and practiced, the more likely it is to be remembered and then applied in real life.
Learners Need Motivation to Take Training
It’s wonderful when learners are self-motivated. But when they’re not they often fail to take advantage of valuable opportunities like training or individual development. It’s pretty easy to give people information. Send them an e-mail, talk to them, link them to a job aid, and boom!
They definitively have the information. Sadly, you can’t do that with motivation. There are ways to help encourage it, but ultimately whether or not someone is motivated depends on them. Here are a few methods that can help motivate learners to take advantage of educational offerings:
Offer an incentive
Include a deadline
Create promotional materials, like a short, exciting “sizzle” video
I’ve considered writing something new on that “blackboard” several times. But whenever I look at it I remember how easy it is to get buried in information and forget motivation’s power. It’s a key consideration in job performance and learning. And for getting the laundry and trash taken care of…
If you’re interested in learning more about motivation, I highly recommend the classic study Making Learning Fun: A Taxonomy of Intrinsic Motivations for Learning.