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Maintaining Motivations
By Jessica Herbert
Published: 12/30/2013

Motivation a "Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes."
-Peter Drucker

For me, stagnation has never been a desired state. It happens, not as a negative state, but the roller coaster of life sometimes slows or even stops and idles. There may be times where I enjoy the stagnation, a way to breathe in between projects. Often I typically use this time to evaluate where I am and what I am doing which leads to a series of questions – “Where do you want to be?” “What do you want to be doing?” “What do you need to do to get there?” The result: more learning, more education, and more milestones to work toward.

The desire to improve, to excel, to move forward is an innate characteristic. It empowers me, enables me to overcome, and propels me forward. Learning can happen informally (challenge of a new position) or through formal avenues (certification training, degree program). The moment I feel as though I have learned it all, this is the point to move elsewhere. Eventually the cycle happens again, but in the midst of it, the roller coaster ride can be fantastic.

This is my perspective, but as an educator, I recognize this quality exists in various forms. Each person has a different rate of retaining information for future recall and application, influenced by his or her own study habits and methods of learning. Moreover, each person has his or her own interests and motivations that drive them in their career and education, which ebbs and flows at different times. Combine this with the idea that an employer should be the one to provide opportunities, and maintaining positive workforce engagement can be complicated.

First, let’s dispel some myths of training:
  • Myth #1: After I receive the training, I am an expert – The term ‘expert’ is powerful and provides confidence; however it is often over-used and not relevant. Comprehensive training increases knowledge, but it does not create experts.
  • Myth #2: After I complete the training, I will obtain different position or role – Younger generations today are told that upon graduation, they will be able to have a great job; however, the reality is they have no work experience and will work in a position that is intended to grow experience (hopefully). This happens to those in the workforce as well. Expectations are often misaligned on ability to move positions, laterally or vertically. While the completion of a certification, degree or specialized training course is a great milestone, there are no guarantees, and you still have to work toward your ideal position.
  • Myth #3: If the training is directly related to my position, it is the responsibility of my employer to provide the training – When possibly, employers do offer internal training or incentives for individual training as they recognize this keeps employees happy. However, an employer often has to worry about minimum requirements for large groups of people; therefore the training may not meet your individual needs. Additionally, budget restraints may limit the type or frequency of training. If you require more, or are interested in more, it is your responsibility to take initiative – find training that is applicable to your skills (present or desired).
Next, let’s recognize that whether you are new or seasoned in your profession, your next goals and positions are up to you. Most importantly, you will be the one benefiting from the knowledge and application of the training, so take responsibility and make these efforts count the most toward your desires. Recognition by your employer will occur as a result, you just have to continue to work toward your best.

As an employer, recognize that your workforce will continue to excel when opportunities are made available. Understand the career path of your staff, provide them the support to tackle these milestones and engage in these commitments. Their knowledge and skills will surely impact the workplace, so supporting these efforts will be key in keeping them engaged and motivated.

Corrections.com author, Jessica Herbert, currently works in the private industry. She supports the law enforcement community through education and training as the primary instructor for 3D Professional Training and Consulting and as an adjunct professor for a criminal justice program. She actively mentors women entering and within the workforce for many professions.

Other articles by Herbert:


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