The challenge of how to motivate staff can seem overwhelming for managers. It’s no secret that in business you need motivated employees to succeed.

The good news is that there has been much research into understanding the issue of how to motivate and inspire employees and much of it sheds a lot of light on steps that you can take as a manager that will help with this challenging area.

Misconceptions around How to Motivate Staff

motivate staff,teamwork,managementOne problem with motivation is that many people still believe that employees are motivated solely by money. Managers all too often think, “I can just throw some money at the problem and it will go away”. Or they might offer a bonus or some other financial benefits to perk up employees and get them motivated again.

However, if you simply offer money, you’ll find that the benefits are very short lived and the issues resume again very, very quickly. That’s because most employees have been found to be truly motivated by factors other than money or financial benefits.

If you offer money only, then they may perk up briefly, but you won’t have identified or fixed the underlying issue that was causing the lack of motivation in the first place, so the challenge of managing people and their motivation remains.

Threat Or Reward?

motivate staffMany studies have also focused on the question of carrot versus stick when trying to work out how to motivate staff. There are some managers who believe that punishing employees for work not achieved (the stick approach) will be more motivational than focusing on rewards for excellent work (the carrot approach).

Most enlightened managers these days understand to motivate employees is not to punish them but to offer them something to work towards, so the carrot approach is usually considered best. However, there are still too many managers and leaders out there that unfortunately follow the stick approach. These organisations are very unlikely to have engaged employees at work.

If the stick approach won’t work and if employees are not particularly motivated by money, then the question persists of just how to motivate employees to achieve the best results in business?

What is it that employees want to get them motivated?

The answer lies in a study carried out by a researcher named Frederick Irving Herzberg in the late 1960s. Herzberg was deeply concerned with the issue of what motivates people. In his groundbreaking study on how to motivate employees, he established that there are both motivators and hygiene factors and each of these affects motivation in a different way.

How To Motivate Staff – Factors to Consider

Hygiene factors were those that were found to be de-motivational (or to lead to dissatisfaction) if they were not present in the workplace.

Poor management or supervision styles were one hygiene factor that had to be considered, according to Herzberg, but there were also many others.

A salary that did not seem appropriate was another, as was the working environment, company policy, administration and status. Note that while these factors were dissatisfying and would impact on motivation if not present, they would not positively impact motivation in any way if they were present.

Meanwhile, motivators were found to be those that really drove motivation in individuals. In examining employee motivation, Herzberg discovered that these factors were of paramount importance.

Motivators, according to Herzberg were found to begrowth,motivate staff,success

  • Achievement
  • Responsibility
  • Recognition
  • Personal growth
  • Advancement
  • The nature of the work

Daniel Pink has also expanded on this work to come to suggest that money be used as a motivator only so far as it is needed to take the issue of money off the table.

That means when considering the best way to motivate your staff, it is far more important to recognise what they have achieved, offer them an increased level of responsibility and room for personal growth, instead of simply giving them a higher salary. Managers can take a lot from this to implement into the working environment.

What Motivates One Does Not Always Motivate Another

Motivation is such a large area of focus and there have been countless studies on this subject matter, but certainly Herzberg & Pink dispel a lot of myths about how to motivate staff. By following their recommendations and focusing on rewards associated with their suggested motivators you will be more likely to achieve success in driving your team’s motivation up.


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