Motivating employees

If you are a leader or manger, you may have wondered, “How can I motivate my employees.” Motivating people is a difficult problem that many managers and leaders struggle with – and it really important because it affects the bottom line.  In fact, some leaders believe that the only thing that will motivate an employee or salesperson is to throw more money at them in the form of commission, bonuses or perks. Nothing could be farther from the truth!

So what really motivates an employee?

That’s a great question. The key to understanding employee motivation revolves around one important concept: Each person has a motivational currency (the specific and unique way that they are motivated). Knowing what your employee’s motivational currency is will help you present the benefits of joining, supporting, or being on board with a new project/direction the organization is taking.


Motivation currency

The best way to think about a motivational currency is to imagine it like a combination lock. You will need to unlock a person’s motivation.  When everything lines up in that combination of factors, they will be motivated to move forward and produce results.  As a manager or leader, you will want to know how someone on your team is motivated and what factors cause them to feel unmotivated. 

Motivation currency styles vary for different situations and topics, but people rely on one primarily. Whether your team members are goal-motivated, learning-motivated, or relationship-motivated, it’s helpful to recognize your employee’s predominant motivational style, so that you can create the situations that will bring out the best in them.

The best way to do this is to start recording what situations motivate your employees or alternatively, un-motivate them.  Don’t assume that every employee is motivated in the same way – that can be a fatal mistake. Work hard to observe each person and it won’t be long before you begin to see patterns in their behavior which will give you strong clues to the combination of factors that bring out the best in their performance.


Remember, as a leader or manager it’s your job to bring out the best performance in all the people you lead. Understanding their motivational currency is one of several keys that you need to know well to be effective.

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