Managing Someone with Low Motivation/Drive

by | Jan 4, 2023 | Hiring Tips, Prescreening | 0 comments

By Mara Miller

Good managers will always know how to keep their employees motivated and engaged. By understanding their team, managers can push them to their full potential without making them feel micromanaged.

As their manager, you will get better results by identifying and understanding behavioral traits portrayed by your team. One way to do this is by using the IdealTraits assessment tool to assist you in pinpointing optimal personality traits in each individual while also identifying traits you wish to avoid. Different personality types can provide a company with diverse skills. For example, a team with a variety of personality traits will create an environment that is well-rounded and more successful overall.

What is Motivation/Drive?

Located in the performance index in the IdealTraits assessments, “Motivation/Drive” measures how someone makes decisions. It determines how they respond to problems and their process to solutions, evaluates how assertive or passive they are, assesses how goal or result-oriented they are, and gauges how quickly they can become angry.

Lower numbers of “Motivation/Drive” should not be confused with laziness or lack of energy.

The description of someone with low Motivation/Drive is reflective, cooperative, and mild-mannered. The individual favors being more agreeable and cooperative when communicating with others. Others may view them as timid, hesitant, and indecisive.

Low Motivation/Drive Personality Traits:

Positive Traits / Strengths:

Individuals with low Motivation/Drive personality traits are fact-seekers. They gather information and organize it to play a part in helping others succeed. This knowledge assists them in making decisions. They examine all options before considering solutions. Weigh the pros and cons. They collaborate with others to receive insight and guidance in making the right decision. If an issue already has a solution, they can quickly remedy the problem. I.e. following the process of billing issues.

They tend to be more productive on a team that is encouraging and helps one another. They like to create a predictable, team-centered environment. Their focus is helping others succeed through support and collaboration. Their communication style provides a clear and concise message that others can understand quickly. They are patient and quiet which makes them great listeners. Being agreeable and sympathetic helps them reduce conflict within the team and encourages productivity.

Growth Areas / Areas that Need Support:

Due to their fear of being wrong and losing approval, they are uncomfortable making decisions, especially if it affects others. They will delay or avoid anything that could cause a conflict or risk involving the outcome of the decision-making process. Their preference is to leave the decision-making to someone else or their team.

They do not like to let their opinions be known. With this strategy, there is a chance no one is leading the team or has the final say, which can confuse and upset those around them. They tend to be vague about what they want, instead of guiding others in the right direction firmly and without hesitation. At times their “criticisms” may come across as a compliment due to not wanting to cause a confrontation.

To them, routine and repetitive tasks are still reliable outcomes. However, as time goes on, it may become clear that the “old way” of doing things may not be the “best way.” They may be hesitant to try new solutions if they haven’t been tried or proven to be successful. However, that doesn’t mean they are ready, willing, and able to take the plunge and toss the old way in favor of new options.

Motivated By:

Individuals with low Motivation/Drive personality traits are motivated by supporting their team and seeing them succeed. They want to be able to analyze all aspects of important decisions and then check in with their team to see how they feel about any recent change. They are always eager to see their team advance and prosper. They do not want changes to hamper their progress. If their team is achieving its goals, then they are succeeding, even if they are behind the scenes. They desire to work with a productive team that provides constructive feedback.


Individuals with low Motivation/Drive do not enjoy being in a situation where they need to decide quickly on important issues with no information, especially if it involves other people. Being in a situation where you have to work without support or resources, such as processes, guidelines, etc. They need guidance and input from others when it comes to new opportunities, exploring new ideas, and decision-making. Reasons for stress: lack of guidance from others, thinking on their feet, and quick decision-making on behalf of others.

Ideal Environment:

They like to focus on creating a predictable environment with consistent rules and processes. Although they understand their job role may include making some independent decisions, they prefer listening to the opinions of others, gathering information, weighing the pros and cons, and then coming up with a solution. They want the help and guidance of others in the form of discussions, opinions, and questions, plus research and information that come with making informed decisions. Better yet would be if someone else would make the important decisions or guide them to the answer they want.


When communicating with an individual with low Motivation/Drive, be thorough, sincere, and guided. Focus on details and answering their questions. Meet in person if possible with a prepared agenda. Emails should be warm, honest, and well-formatted. Feedback should be specific, detailed, and provided with recommendations.

Benefits to a Team:

A person with low Motivation/Drive ensures their team members are involved and in agreement. They go into detail about the smaller aspects of a project, get input from others and solve routine problems quickly.


Individuals with low Motivation/Drive desire trust and mutual support. In the absence of that, they are left with what they fear.

They fear confrontation with others whether within the team or outside of it. It does not matter. Taking charge of something they have no experience with or making quick decisions on something they have no information about. They fear making a wrong decision or committing mistakes that could affect those around them. And they fear the “unknown.” They are not able to prepare or seek guidance from others if they don’t know what it is or when it is coming.

Management Tips:

Consider the management tips below when managing someone with low Motivation/Drive.

  • They are naturally inclined to want to seek support from others when situations arise, especially if the issue does not match any standard solution. Unlike someone with high Motivation/Drive, they do not take control of situations. They fear making a mistake or making the wrong decision. They would much rather seek the advice of someone in authority or turn that responsibility over. To assist with their uncertainties, consider giving permissions along with explaining guidelines.
  • Consider providing goals and expectations from the beginning. Discuss a career path with them. Keep them accountable when they fall short. Give them praise and recognition when they come through. Keep lines of communication open. You don’t want them falling through the cracks.
  • They can make decisions as long as they have gathered all the information and have been allowed to consider the issue from all sides. Their decision-making will not be quick. They will look to others for input or pass that responsibility to someone else. Consider coaching them on how to make an informed decision with confidence.
  • Has trouble detaching and being productive in emotionally charged situations. Provide training on handling difficult conversations with customers/team members.
  • They need a stable work environment. Take time to explain upcoming changes. Answer questions and allow time to adjust.
  • They live by the motto of “Slow and steady wins the race.” They do not create a sense of urgency around others. They try to maintain a low-stress level for their team by not rushing them or themselves. They feel comfortable with repetitive and routine tasks.
  • They try not to upset or offend those around them which means they may not be upfront about how they feel—instead trying to keep things on friendly terms or not be entirely direct about their feedback or criticism. This would be especially true in confrontational situations with clients. Consider providing someone with low Motivation/Drive with coaching and roleplaying on how to effectively communicate with someone in those situations.
  • They need a predictable, supportive environment that allows them to consult with others on decisions or to pass the “torch” to someone else on the big decisions. Although they should understand they may not be capable all the time, they will not flourish if put on the spot or forced to rush on undetermined things the majority of the time. This will put them on edge. If they are in this environment, it can lead to low morale, lack of motivation, struggle with time management, and absenteeism.
  • Be detailed, sincere, and thorough when communicating with them, especially on performance reviews. Concentrate on the success they are contributing to the team and allow them the chance to ask questions. Provide reassurance when needed.
  • If assessing them for an outbound sales position, check their Motivation/Drive. It is recommended the numbers be 60 and above. Consider providing them with coaching and training to keep them motivated, engaged, and on track.

Combination of Personality Traits:

Everyone has a blend of personality traits. Below are examples of how low Motivation/Drive can be affected when combined with other personality traits.

High Persuasiveness/Convincing & low Motivation/Drive: Communication is key. They are outgoing and find it difficult to concentrate on mundane tasks. They are easily distracted from the day-to-day routine if an opportunity to socialize pops up.

High Structure/Routine & low Motivation/Drive: Slow-paced and do not work with a sense of urgency. They can work in situations that others would find repetitive or dull. They are submissive and readily accept some things they cannot change.

High Thorough/Compliant & low Motivation/Drive: Needs to be sure of their position and prefers to use established regulations and procedures as a framework to support their ideas. Needs practical support from others and seeks to maintain positive relationships.

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