One of the three indispensable traits of an ideal team player is hunger, the propensity to go above and beyond the minimum requirements of a job or a project. As obvious as that sounds, hunger is perhaps the most difficult to instill in a person. And so, finding people who are hungry, or helping an employee discover their latent hunger, is one of the more important challenges for a leader or manager.
To make this easier, it helps to understand the various reasons why a given person might be hungry.
“Natural” hunger: Some people are predisposed to being hungry, either because they have a personality that is inclined to hard work, or because they were raised in an environment that instilled a strong work ethic in them. Even without external motivation, these people will go above and beyond. Of course, that is not a reason for managers to withhold motivation.
Passion for the mission: Some people are not naturally hungry, but develop hunger because they are personally connected to the purpose of the organization or department where they work. For these people, it becomes extremely important for a manager to help them identify that passion and remind them of the mission regularly.
Affection for the team: Some people are neither naturally hard-working or passionate about an organization’s cause, but find their hunger in their desire to serve their teammates. These people simply don’t want to let down their colleagues, and so managers need to motivate them by facilitating the appreciation of others on the team.
If an employee is not naturally hungry, passionate about the mission or motivated by helping colleagues, managers can feel pretty confident that they aren’t going to be an ideal team player. Moreover, they can feel much better about helping that employee move on to another place where they might find their motivation for being hungry.