Help employees find motivation from within
Not to be confused with a locust a type of grasshopper known for traveling in a crowd and decimating crops, a locus is defined as the center, or source, of an activity or power. Behavioral experts often use the term locus of control (LOC) when studying or discussing motivation.
Employees with an internal LOC feel a greater sense of personal responsibility and control over their work. Those with an external LOC feel that fate, or what happens to them, is largely controlled by external forces.
Studies show that people with an internal LOC typically have a growth mindset—or that they view challenges as opportunities for growth, rather than as setbacks or roadblocks. The more internal control employees believe they have in a situation, the more likely they are to take action, be persistent, and ultimately be successful. They also tend to be happier and more resilient in the face of stress, when compared to those with an external LOC.
Now, it’s true that many things in life are largely beyond our control, like the weather, natural disasters or other people’s attitudes. What we can control—or, things that are within our circle of influence—are our own actions and reactions in any given moment or situation. By helping employees to focus on what they can influence in a situation, you can help them to develop an internal locus of control. This can lead to a more open and realistic worldview, as well as increased empowerment and resilience.
For example, consider these two reactions to the same situation:
“My team keeps dismissing my suggestions in meetings. Their ears are always closed to me.”
“How could I have presented my idea differently to encourage acceptance from the team? Maybe if I lead with the benefits next time they’ll be more open to my idea."
Science indicates that, though some aspects of our mindset are with us from birth, we still have a powerful capacity to embrace change. There are things we can do to leverage this capacity to develop a more adaptive and internal locus of control. Here are some suggestions to pass along to employees to help them get started:
By practicing these steps whenever they feel they’re in a situation that’s out of their control, it should become easier for employees to recognize new possibilities in any situation.