How to Motivate People to Do Unpopular Jobs [video]

cleaning toiletEvery organization has positions that are mundane, difficult, or even downright discussing – picking up trash, stuffing envelopes, changing diapers in the church nursery, dealing with irate customers. If you’re a leader, it’s your responsibility to recruit people for these positions and keep them motivated and doing their job well.

That can be a challenging job. In this excellent video Patrick Dixon takes on perhaps the most unpopular job there is – cleaning toilets – and explains how to motivate someone to do it well.

The keys to motivating people to do unpopular jobs?

  1. Help them see their role as critical to the mission of the organization.
  2. Help them see how important what they do is to the people you serve.
  3. Demonstrate that you, their leader, highly value and appreciate the work they do.
  4. Provide opportunities for development and advancement.

It’s easy for those doing unpopular jobs to get tired and frustrated by their work and lose sight of the bigger picture. If you’re a leader and you want to prevent poor moral and high turnover, it’s your job to frequently remind the people on your team that they matter and what they do matters.

What unpopular jobs do you oversee? How do you motivate people to do them?

2 Responses to “How to Motivate People to Do Unpopular Jobs [video]”

  1. I would imagine Unpopular jobs depend on your point of view. Maybe it is better to think of unpopular tasks for the modify of people. For instance, I don’t enjoy working in spreadsheets, but it is critical if I’m going to understand conversion behavior on my our websites. We don’t succeed if we don’t understand them.

    I think that if everyone has a clear path to improvement, if they can succeed where they are, it is strong motivation to keep going. Without that clear path, it’s tough to motivate anyone to go above and beyond if who they are is defined by their job and tasks.

    • Some good points there. Unless you do the same thing all day there are probably parts of everyone’s job that they like more than others. Additionally, what may be an “unpopular job” for one person, might be the perfect fit for someone else. Though I’m not sure I’ve met anyone who would say cleaning toilets is the perfect fit for them.

      But it sounds like what keeps you reviewing spreadsheets, even though you don’t like doing it, is you keeping the big picture in mind, remembering why it’s important to your primary goal. That’s one of the keys.

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