Managers, coaches, teachers and parents struggle with how to motivate their people to improve their performance.

We read, buy posters, cajole, conduct contests, offer incentives, threaten and hire psychologists, but nothing seems to work long-term. We search for the magic recipe, but it does not seem to exist.

Noted psychologists like Maslow and Herzberg spent much of their lives studying motivation and concluded that after basic needs are met, it must come from within. So, how do we make that happen?

Three elements seem to be needed. People must experience joy or happiness in doing the work, must realize a sense of accomplishment in doing something worthwhile, and must be given positive reinforcement in performing well.

Joy in work involves doing something you are good at and enjoy doing. You like your environment and have the training, materials, tools and support to do it well. When you quit for the day, you look forward to resuming the next day.

Herzberg adds another dimension for leaders to address – de-motivators in the workplace that cause dissatisfaction and are demoralizing, such as playing politics, competition for promotion, unfair or uninformed annual employee appraisals and impossible assignments. Leaders must recognize and attend to both satisfiers and dissatisfiers in the workplace.

You develop a sense of accomplishment when you are proud of your accomplishments and know that you and your organization are doing something meaningful. You feel kike you are realizing your full potential; you sense what the Marines call esprit de corps, meaning a feeling of pride, fellowship and common loyalty shared by members of the group.

Everyone likes to receive feedback on good work and it incents us to do more. We have found money is not a motivator, but it can be a de-motivator. It can create jealousy, disappointment, and discourage teamwork. Positive feedback provides energy and drive to perform even better.

To achieve this self-motivation, leaders need to change their view of their job from managers to suppliers. They need to supply the training, conditions, processes, environment, material and equipment that will allow their people to succeed.

Create the right conditions, and your employees will motivate themselves. In so doing and seeing the results, leaders will become more motivated themselves.

Lou Schultz is a Certified SCORE Mentor and can be reached by email at