Self Motivation in Nursing


Published: 29 November 2015

Maintaining our own motivation at work can be a challenge at times, let alone raising motivation of our team. Yet, the workplace is constantly changing and our ability to respond well to those changes depends on our own motivation and the motivation of our coworkers.

The rewards of a motivated healthcare team are greater healthcare outcomes and greater efficiency in healthcare delivery.

How do we motivate our staff? Developing your emotional intelligence will go a long way to improving your own and your staff’s levels of motivation. We cannot expect to see motivation from our staff unless we exhibit it in our own attitude and behaviour.

Our intrinsic motivators according to Daniel Goleman are:

  • An innate desire to achieve, which is a core attribute of success in any endeavour.
  • Assessing risk and taking the right amount of risk.
  • Taking initiative and being ready to act on opportunities.
  • The ability to push through setbacks and pursue goals.

Our extrinsic motivators are more tied to our ego and our need for significance.

  • Money
  • Trophies
  • Recognition
  • Accolades

Maintaining Motivation

Taking some time out to reflect is always beneficial.

Nurses who maintain their motivation in the fast-paced world of the healthcare setting will be using one or all of the following techniques:

  1. They are life-long learners. They feed their mind with knowledge. Maintaining a curiosity for knowledge goes a long way towards keeping motivated.
  2. They choose their company. You become like the people you associate with, so motivated people seek out like-minded colleagues.
  3. They choose to see failure as feedback and not a setback. Positive people acknowledge their missteps and modify their behaviour in pursuit of their desired outcome.
  4. Maintaining motivation requires self-assessment. Seek feedback on your performance as a leader so that you can self-correct if necessary.

Demotivating Behaviours

Knowing how we motivate others is an important part of our leadership cache. It is equally important to appreciate some of the ways leaders and organisations demotivate their people.

Praise is an important part of motivating leadership. It releases two neurotransmitters – serotonin, which provides a feeling of pride and dopamine, which incentivises us to repeat a behaviour.

Not Stating Goals and Expectations

Expecting your staff to know what you need without clearly articulating what it is you want from your team makes it difficult for them to perform well and align with your goals. It leads to confusion and dissatisfaction on both sides of the equation.

Bullying and Fear

Anxiety in a workplace reduces happiness and productivity. If you want your team to be open with you, to seek your counsel and to trust you, then creating an environment where they feel safe is essential.

Lack of Recognition

People thrive when they are recognised for a job well done. According to Tony Robbins significance is a core human need. At a neurobiological level, Simon Sinek says that when we are recognised for our achievements it releases two neurotransmitters – serotonin, which provides a feeling of pride and dopamine, which incentivises us to repeat a behaviour.

Motivation is the responsibility of both the leader and the individual staff member. Removing the roadblocks so that motivation may flourish is an essential leadership skill.

  • Goleman, D 1996, Emotional Intelligence,Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, London.
  • Robbins, A 2003, Unlimited Power, Free Press, New York.
  • Sinek, S 2013, Leaders Eat Last, Penguin Books Ltd, London.