The motivation to stay motivated : Nursing Management

Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Department: Leadership Q&A

The motivation to stay motivated

Drake, Kirsten DNP, RN, OCN, NEA-BC

Author Information
Nursing Management (Springhouse) 48(12):p 56, December 2017. | DOI: 10.1097/01.NUMA.0000526921.77464.16
  • Free

Q My unit currently has low morale as a result of not meeting established metric targets. I'm not sure how to motivate my team and, at times, I honestly struggle to stay motivated myself. Is there any hope?

Motivation is something we all wrestle with at one point or another. First, let's start with self-motivation. To be an effective leader, you have to find what drives you. Recently at Nursing Management Congress 2017, Patrick Baker, MA, MHA, BSN, RN, former CNO of the University of Cincinnati Health System, shared the importance of connecting the meaning of the work you do with its impact on others and how to get back to the basics of why you got into nursing and leadership. Take a moment to think about your “why.” Getting to the roots of your purpose can provide you with some intrinsic motivation.

But, it really isn't that easy, is it? Another way to motivate yourself is to be exposed to new information. One of the most impactful ways to do this is to attend a continuing-education offering in which you're gaining new knowledge. Learning is an extrinsic motivator that can increase your confidence. Another opportunity to expose yourself to new information is by attending a professional association meeting, such as the American Organization of Nurse Executives. This will allow you to see how others are approaching the same issues and can spark you into action.

Setting a goal and staying focused is one more approach to keeping yourself motivated. Establishing a goal provides you with a cause and moving toward the goal can give you positive reinforcement. When we focus on a goal, we're less likely to get side-tracked by nonessential work. And don't underestimate fear as a motivating factor. Fear of failure can often motivate us to accomplish our goals.

Now, when it comes to motivating your staff members, goal setting and staying focused also come into play. Include staff members in the goal-setting process to stimulate their interest. A word of caution: Guide your staff to set easily attainable goals to start; if the goal is too large, it can be defeating. For example, your organization has a goal to discharge 90% of patients by noon; however, your unit's by-noon discharge rate is 30%. Set the initial goal to increase discharges by noon to 35%. Once this goal is achieved, acknowledge and celebrate, and then increase the goal again. By creating internal satisfaction for your staff members throughout the process, you're actually motivating them to achieve more.

Don't forget to personalize your motivational approach by discovering what drives your team members. Take time to educate yourself on motivational theories to assist in tailoring your style to your unit's needs. Motivation can be either intrinsic or extrinsic, but the key to both is a sense of achievement tied to goals and expectations.1 With a little push, you'll be surprised how motivated you—and your staff members—become.


1. MindTools. Motivation: energizing your people to achieve good things.
Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.