People are generally motivated by 2 key types of motivation and it’s important that you as a recruitment manager need to be aware of. These 2 types are called towards and away from motivation, or as some people call it, carrot and stick motivation.



“Your team does a lot of work – but they could do better. “ 

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Why do you need to distinguish between the types of motivation?

As a general rule of thumb if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.  So if you are performing to absolutely the best you can, and getting the results that you want and are happy with those results, just keep doing it.  However if your consultant is not getting the results that they want, or if their results are inconsistent, then looking at and possibly changing their motivation direction can help you to improve their results.

What is Towards and Away from Motivation?

‘Towards’ motivation is where people are motivated to achieve something or to fulfil a value or goal because of the things they will get, gain or benefit from when they have achieved it.


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On the other hand, ‘Away from’ motivation is where someone is motivated by the thought of avoiding not having it.

A example of towards motivation in recruitment is that someone people are motivated by making lots of placements because of all the things that will bring them, whereas others who are ‘away from’ are motivated by the desire not to fail and to avoid the negative consequence of not making placements.

Whilst neither is inherently good or bad, and most people will have some degree of both types of motivation, I find that people who are not getting the results that want in a particular area have a significant amount of away from motivation.

How can away from motivation cause sub-optimal results?

There are 2 main ways – if the reason you want something is because you want to avoid the negative consequences of not having it, you’ll be thinking of not having it, and this makes it more likely that you won’t have it.

Secondly, if a recruiter is primarily away from motivated once they have moved away from what they don’t want, they can lose interest and motivation.

Do you have consultants who do yo-yo billings – big months followed by nothing or very low placements?  Many managers find that recruiters seem to lose the edge and get complacent and this is why.

This is best illustrated by a diagram:

What is ‘Away From’ motivation?

At point A – the person is really motivated to take action, because they are at a place where they don’t want to be, the ‘failure’ place’.  For example, they have billed nothing for 2 months and are at risk of being put on disciplinary.

So they start to take proactive action – they become motivated to act…

However, when they get to point B, they are now at a level of results that takes them far enough away from ‘failure’ feeling or place. Consequently, they may take their foot off the accelerator or ease up on doing all the parts of the process, forgetting to ask key questions.

This lack of action in turn, leads to results deteriorating until they move toward point A2.  At this point again they will get really motivated because they are where they don’t want to be, the ‘failure’ place and so the cycle continues.



“Your team does a lot of work – but they could do better. “ 

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What is ‘Toward’ motivation?

If someone is towards motivated – they will want to achieve their goals and stay that way.  So when they get to point B1, they keep going towards point C.

What can you do to change ‘Away from’ behaviour?

As their manager you can help them change their focus from ‘away from’ to ‘towards’ motivated by saying:

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“I know XXX is what you don’t want to happen. What would you like to happen instead?”

Get them to simply turn their attention to what they do want… Make sure this outcome is specific and positively framed.

Simple as that.  Notice when they tell you want they don’t want to happen and switch this focus by asking what they want to happen instead.

If you want to learn how to set up your business, so that it stops under-performance once and for all, then join my free webinar:  The 5 Secrets Our Clients Use to Build 7 & 8 Figure Recruitment Businesses


‘Til next time,