Sometimes the work just needs to get done. There is no way to get around the fact that nobody wants to clean the food court tables, deal with a bowel movement from a person they support, or have to write out hundreds of invitations to the company event.
Talking with your team about why the work needs to be done is one effective way to motivate in these situations however a sense of purpose can only go so far when the job is really tough.
Another powerful way to motivate your staff in these situations is to allow them to have fun with the work in their own way. Here’s a story for you to think about.
I once watched a woman cleaning tables at my local food court, let’s call her Joan. Joan understood the concept of having fun with work.
She told a very sad looking young mother what a beautiful baby she had and how nicely she had dressed the baby. The mother lit up and smiled.
She asked two women if they were finished and then politely took away their trays as if it was a 5 star restaurant. The two looked at each other with a “Wow!” look on their faces.
Joan helped people empty their trays at the waste container and thanked them for clearing their trays, all with her trademark contagious smile.
Whoever supervises Joan would be very unwise to try and get her to be more serious and more focused on the work at hand. What I saw was someone using her innate gift of gab and her desire to serve as a way to make a tough, nasty job very rewarding. She was making the most of the situation because she was able to sculpt the job to fit with her innate skills and make it fun all while she was working her butt off cleaning the whole time.
When people are encouraged and supported to bring their natural gifts to work with them and somehow make the dirty work fun, motivation often flourishes.