She works hard for the money, or maybe just for fun?

In the complex world of the workforce, leaders encounter diverse individuals, each driven by unique motivations. What is required to lead someone who chooses to work despite not needing to? Understanding effective leadership and cultivating a positive and productive work environment gets any leader far. But have you ever been in a situation where you feel like you’re facing someone with the approach of “nothing to lose”?

Individuals who work because they can, not out of need, present a unique dynamic in the workforce. Motivated by intrinsic factors, such as passion or personal fulfillment, these individuals choose employment based on their interests and desires rather than obligations. This distinction brings about challenges and opportunities for leadership.

So, if you’ve got someone on your team who’s just working because they want to, you might want to consider what makes them want to leave and not working with you.

Assuming Unlimited Commitment

“Can you do this?” and then, “You did good last time, so can you do this again?” Avoid assuming. Just because someone chooses to work, they are willing to commit to an indefinite workload or responsibility. It’s essential to have open communication about expectations and workload to prevent burnout and maintain a healthy life balance. You should remember these people have no problem walking away, and that is not to say that they would do that lightly. In many cases, you need them more than they need you!

Neglecting Personal Development

While these individuals may be motivated by personal and professional growth, leaders should avoid neglecting structured development plans. Even if someone is working for fun, it doesn’t mean they don’t have career ambitions or development areas they want to improve. Provide clear pathways for advancement, offer training opportunities, and actively engage in discussions about their career aspirations to ensure continued growth.

Ignoring Individual Preferences

Just because someone chooses to work does not mean they lack specific preferences or desires. Leaders should avoid assuming that any work will be fulfilling for them. Regularly check-in, seek feedback, and tailor tasks to align with their interests and strengths. I want one more time to emphasize the fact that these people will vote with their feet more quickly than you think!

Overlooking Well-being

Intrinsic motivation does not exempt individuals from experiencing stress or burnout. When the fire burns and you are in the flow, it is easy to forget the time and continue doing whatever is on your table. Leaders should avoid overlooking signs of potential strain on well-being. Implement measures to support mental health, promote life balance, and encourage breaks to maintain employee wellness.

Neglecting Recognition

Individuals motivated by intrinsic factors still appreciate acknowledgment and recognition for their efforts. There’s no such thing as a free ride! Leaders should avoid assuming that their passion negates the need for positive feedback. Regularly recognize big and small achievements to reinforce a positive and appreciative work culture.

Failing to Foster Team Collaboration

Individuals who choose to work might be highly self-driven. Still, it’s crucial to pay attention to the importance of teamwork and collaboration. In many cases, the free riders, dysfunctional team dynamics, and lack of decisions will (pardon my French) piss off your passionate workers. Encourage collaboration, communication, ownership, and a sense of community within the team.

Forgetting Life Balance

Intrinsic motivation should not be a reason to disregard maintaining a healthy life balance. Leaders should avoid creating a culture that encourages excessive working hours or constant availability. Be clear to demand hurrying only things that need to be hurried. Make sure you show the example, set boundaries, and ensure that individuals have the space to recharge outside of work.

The Cornerstone of Leadership

In summary, leaders working with individuals motivated by their intrinsic desire to work should adopt leadership styles that encourage autonomy, open communication, recognition, and a sense of purpose. Leadership styles that limit these aspects may not be well-received by those who work because they can potentially hinder their job satisfaction and overall performance.

PS. Non-negotiable Leadership Expectations

But to be blunt, whoever you’re leading, make sure you’re a decent leader for that person! Neglecting the above items is unacceptable regardless of your team members’ motivational approach!