So, do you think you know what motivates your employees? This might sound silly but the key to motivating anyone is to first understand what motivates them. Too often, well-intentioned leaders attempt to motivate their team with what works for the leader. What motivates the leader seldom motivates every individual on a team. And to complicate matters, people combine motivational factors.

What Motivates Your Employees?

In an HR article, Susan M. Heathfield states:

“Employee motivation is the combination of fulfilling the employee’s needs and expectations from work and the workplace factors that enable employee motivation — or not.”

Ignoring The “Me” Motivator

Not everyone thinks like you. Learn what motivates the team, not what inspires you or what you “think” motivates them. Understanding individual motivations can be as simple as asking. Once this is determined, do everything possible to provide the motivation. In a previous position, I once told the company’s president that I was more motivated by recognition and a feeling of accomplishment than by money. Rather than use this information to his advantage in motivating me, he took away my bonuses. Because he was primarily money motivated and expected others to be the same. I wasn’t. I left the position.

The Money Motivator

Don’t assume everyone is motivated by money. Managers are frequently surprised when added financial incentives don’t encourage employees to accomplish more. Money may limit de-motivation, but it’s often not the best incentive. In a Forbes post, Money Is Not The Best Motivator, Jon R. Katzenbach and Zia Khan explain how “Less costly kinds of encouragement can be far more effective.”

Nothing To Motivate but Fear Itself

Motivating through fear isn’t as effective as many believe it to be. Unfortunately, motivation through fear can bring results, but if used repeatedly, it can also destroy the environment that allows teammates to become self-driven and will certainly lose effectiveness.

To quote Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD.:

“Fear is a great motivator — for a very short time. That’s why a lot of yelling from the boss won’t seem to ‘light a spark under employees’ for a very long time.”

Give Your Team Direction

Written policies and procedures, company goals, visions, missions, and ethics policies define the organization and give employees a framework. Don’t confuse giving direction with micro-managing. Many people need room to be creative and the opportunity to be entrepreneurial. Effectively executed individual and team goals inspire and motivate — especially if they align with personal life goals.

Evolving Motivators

Staying informed of what motivates your team is fluid. Goals change over time. For example, an unmarried employee’s motivation may change if they wed and will likely change again if they have children. Keep in mind, an employee’s motivation may change at any time. Because it’s an ongoing process.

Is it Time to Learn What Motivates Your Employees?

So, is it time for you to learn what motivates your employees? Because, if so, you can start by promoting conversations with your team about motivation and then continue the conversation, listen, and make it available within your organization’s culture.

How Can I Help You?

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

Does your business have a management training plan? I ask because many organizations, large and small, use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. Check it out.

Photo by Leon on Unsplash