Adult Motivation

The Adults in Scouting model, which incorporates the Life Cycle of an Adult in Scouting develops several aspects, especially the skills, knowledge and values of Adults in Scouting. This process is linked to the delivery of high-quality programmes with our youth members, and the added bonus of individual self-development. Ultimately the objective of all adults in Scouting, no matter their role, is to contribute to the holistic development of young people through high-quality youth programme.

What is recognized is that there is a strong link between getting the right person for the right job, in the right place, and at the right time. Coupled with this is the understanding that Scouting utilizes both the intellectual and physical abilities of each individual adult to mutual advantage. Each adult comes with different expectations, experiences, qualifications, attitudes, needs, capacities, aptitude, intelligence and personal goals.

In Scouting, good leadership generally equates to good programmes. If individual motivation is lacking or being affected in any way, then the results are reflected in poor performance and ineffectual leadership, management or support.

What is meant by the word motivation? In any business dictionary, you will find a similar explanation: Motivation is the energizer of behavior, what we do and why, and the characteristic of action.

Adults in Scouting need to be challenged, enthused, supported and rewarded with plenty of opportunities to reach their full potential. If our adults are motivated, then there is a good chance they will continue with what they are doing to contribute to the development of young people in a meaningful way.

Why is Motivation Important?

If we can understand why people contribute to Scouting through volunteering and what drives them, we will be better able to motivate them. Our adults are all different and what motivates one does not necessarily motivate another. We must focus on the needs of the individual. Sometimes this is difficult, but if we know our people then we can utilize the most appropriate motivation techniques.

Forms of Motivation and Recognition

While some adults respond to simple appreciation like ‘thank you’, others need a bit more appreciation and often the motivators need to be more specific. A motivated adult is more likely to

  • perform at a higher standard and continue to aim high.
  • undertake and complete tasks or projects doing them well.
  • accept the challenge of reaching the required goals
  • enthuse and motivate others.
  • continue their service to Scouting for longer.

Motivation should become an integral part of all we do, especially for adults who are responsible for others.

As indicated, we should focus on the needs of the individual and consider what motivates them and why they want to stay involved. The influencers to motivation come in many forms. For example:

  • Ensure adults enjoy what they are doing. If the role has lost its fun element, then an adult will find it difficult to stay motivated.
  • Sell the importance of personal development and growth, through involvement.
  • Highlight their contribution to the development of young people and the future.
  • Maintain a social network that provides a bond and a sense of belonging.
  • Express gratitude and thanks frequently and ensure they feel appreciated.
  • Value their experience and what they bring to Scouting and support them to gain wider experience in their role.
  • Appreciate what they know and the skills they contribute and assist them to improve their knowledge and skills, through encouragement and support.
  • Positive behavior has a positive influence, so encourage a positive mindset and be an example that motivates others.
  • Embrace them as a valuable member of the Team.

There are also things that de-motivate, including:

  • Poor management style and inconsistent approach by Team Leaders
  • Rules and regulations that restrict or simply don’t work in practice.
  • Micromanagement – we work with capable people, allow them to do their job with support.
  • Treating every adult the same – sounds good, but not as effective as adults need different motivators.
  • Lack of praise or acknowledgement of success and achievement will be reflected in adult turnover in roles, less commitment, and poor attitudes.
  • Not being a motivator or an example.
  • Poor communication or none at all – can be both a motivator and a demotivator.
  • Treating adults as a resource and not a person of value.

Motivation is often expressed in terms of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is to have a sense of achievement or accomplishment. For example, when a Scout Leader starts in Scouting and wants to get their Wood Badge as a sense of accomplishment. Extrinsic motivation would involve the same Scout Leader who seeks the admiration of their peers for doing a great job.

Here are some ideas to keep adults motivated:

  1. Provide Supportive Leadership – this is one of the main considerations for adults in Scouting
  2. Empower the Individual – every adult should feel that they are valued as an individual and what they do is important in the big picture.
  3. Develop and Maintain a Positive Environment – positive listening, positive talk, positive sharing.
  4. Encourage a Team Focus – together a team achieves much more due to the individual contribution of each person, and the dynamic created by the coming together of the individual members.
  5. Recognize and Reward – praise and express appreciation personally and acknowledge more widely to grow personal motivation.

From the beginning of a Life Cycle we must understand and align the objectives of Scouting with the intrinsic motivation of the adult. Then in a positive and supportive environment through the use of extrinsic rewards and intrinsically satisfying opportunities, the adult will maintain his commitment and achieve mastery of his performance.

Leading adults in Scouting is multi-motivational in nature so we need different types of motivators frequently. If we are motivated, we can do things in a more positive way and at the same time help to motivate others. Often a clearly established goal or goals may just be the motivator to keep us going. If every adult in Scouting is motivated, then imagine what can be done.

Want to be more challenged? Consider looking at motivation theories. The most well-known is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but there are a lot of others. Find the Golem Effect. What is so interesting about it and does it have an impact on what we do in Scouting?

Consider why these various theories were stated and ask yourself these questions:

  • What relevance does motivation theory have for Scouting and how does it apply to me?
  • As a Team Leader how do I keep the adults I work with in Scouting focused, passionate, and wanting more.

See also:

Further External Reading


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