How do you motivate someone who doesn’t seem to care?

“She drives me crazy

Like no one else

She drives me crazy

And I can't help myself”


She Drives Me Crazy, by The Fine Young Cannibals (click here for the song)

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash



Last week a client said to me “My head of marketing is doing my head in. She just seems to be going through the motions at work. How can I get her to put in some real effort?


So bearing this in mind, as the coaching session continued my client generated the following hypotheses to begin to understand the lack of :

  • Has something occurred to offend her or get her offside?

  • Have she observed hypocrisy in leadership team?

  • Has the reputation of the organisation in the marketplace changed?

  • Are the internal systems and processes overly complex or difficult?

  • Are the stakeholders placing unreasonable demands?

  • Is she anxious or depressed?

  • Is there something in her personal life that is impacting her performance?

  • In she in the wrong job?

  • Was there a mistake when recruiting?

  • Has the role changed significantly since she was hired?

  • Can she not see a line of sight between her role and its impact?

  • Is she not keen on the goals of the business?

  • Has the scope and complexity of her role become overwhelming?

  • Are the expectations placed upon her unrealistic?

  • Are they burnt out?

  • Is her team incompetent or dysfunctional?

  • Does she her role as “just a job”?

  • Is she genuinely lazy, with a terrible work ethic?


During this conversation, I held in my mind the theoretical frameworks of Deci and Ryan’s Self Determination Theory of Motivation (click here for my blog) and Dan Cable's research on of the role of Purpose in employee motivation (click here for my purpose vlog). I was also cognisant of the numerous organisational, societal and individual factors that will impact an employees discretionary effort at any given time.


As the session drew to a close, my client paused and said "I guess my homework is to make time to sit down and have a few really meaningful conversations.. to get a sense of what is going on.. there's no point guessing.."


I look forward to finding out in the next coaching session what my client has discovered.


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References: Available on request.

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