How to Motivate Employees as a Leader

Puzzle piece that says motivation

Daniel Pink, in his book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, argues that traditional notions of motivation, such as rewards and punishments, are ineffective in driving long-term motivation and performance. Instead, he posits that three factors—autonomy, mastery, and purpose—are the key drivers of motivation. 

Autonomy refers to the desire to be self-directed and have control over one’s own work. Mastery involves the drive to improve and develop skills, and purpose is the desire to work towards something meaningful and larger than oneself. 

According to Pink, these intrinsic motivators are what truly fuel our performance and fulfillment in the workplace and in life. Employers should look to implement the right combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators for how to motivate their employees. 

Motivating Employees in the Workplace

1. Don’t Micromanage

Constantly hovering over employees can create an unhappy work environment and make them less likely to want to go above and beyond for the company for several reasons.

Firstly, micromanaging can create a lack of trust between the manager and the employees. Secondly, constantly being monitored can create a sense of anxiety and pressure for employees, which can affect their performance negatively. Third, constant monitoring can also create a lack of autonomy for employees. 

All of this leads them to feeling like they are not trusted to make decisions. They may become disengaged and less likely to take initiative or contribute their own ideas. Micromanaging is not a good practice for motivating employees. 

2. Value Your Employees

I can say that valuing employees and showing appreciation for their hard work and contributions is crucial to creating a positive and productive work environment. And you can’t fake this—you have to truly love and appreciate them. 

Intangible ways include verbal recognition and appreciation. These can go a long way in boosting employee morale and motivation. Regularly acknowledging and thanking employees for their hard work and contributions can create a sense of pride and ownership in their work, leading to higher levels of job satisfaction and a desire to succeed.

Of course, providing benefits, such as healthcare, retirement plans, and paid time off, can improve employee satisfaction and loyalty. Offering competitive salaries and regular raises can also motivate employees to perform their best and stay with the company long-term.

3. Create a Positive Work Culture

Loving where you work is critical for motivation because when people are happy and fulfilled at work, they tend to be more productive, engaged, and committed to their jobs. This is why creating a work environment that is enjoyable, inspiring, and meaningful is essential for both the well-being of employees and the success of the organization.

When employees love their jobs, they are more likely to be motivated to come to work every day. They may even look forward to the start of the workweek, which can positively impact their mood and energy level. This enthusiasm can also inspire others in the workplace, creating a positive and productive culture.

On the other hand, when people dread coming to work, it can have a significant negative impact on their motivation and overall well-being. Employees who don’t enjoy their jobs may be more likely to experience burnout, low morale, and high levels of stress, all of which can lead to absenteeism and turnover.

Therefore, creating a work environment that fosters a sense of community, encourages personal growth and development, and recognizes the contributions of employees is essential to building a motivated and engaged workforce. 

4. Use a Human-First Approach

When employers recognize and address the struggles and needs of their employees, they can create a positive and supportive work environment that fosters employee satisfaction and loyalty. Understanding and treating employees as humans builds trust, boosts morale, improves work-life balance, reduces stress, and encourages growth and development. 

What Motivates Employees?

Employees can be motivated by a variety of factors, and different employees may be motivated by different things. Some ways for motivating employees include:

  • Simple recognition and appreciation
  • Opportunity for career advancement
  • Opportunities for creating work-life balance
  • Autonomy over their work
  • Fair compensation, which doesn’t always have to be the highest in the market
  • Challenging work
  • Positive work environment

Ultimately, it’s important for employers to understand what motivates their employees and to create an environment that fosters motivation and engagement. And the best way to do so is to ask them. 

The Enneagram & Employee Motivation

The Enneagram is a powerful tool for understanding the unique motivations and traits of individuals. It is a personality typing system that identifies nine different types, each with its own core beliefs, values, and drivers. 

By using the Enneagram, employers can gain insight into their employees’ innate motivations, which can help them create a more effective work environment that promotes engagement, productivity, and job satisfaction. Additionally, the Enneagram can be used to identify potential areas of conflict between team members and provide strategies to overcome them. 

Do Motivational Messages for Employees Work?

Personal messages have a powerful impact on employees as they help to create a connection between the sender and the recipient. When employees receive personal messages, they feel valued, recognized, and appreciated, which can increase their motivation and engagement.

On the other hand, generic inspirational quotes can often feel impersonal and lack relevance to an employee’s specific situation. While they may be uplifting and positive, they do not provide any specific guidance or support for employees facing unique challenges or situations. Perhaps it’s best to leave the “Believe” signs to Ted Lasso.

Are Motivational Gifts for Employees Effective?

Motivational gifts can be effective in some cases, but their effectiveness depends on various factors, such as the context, the employee’s personality, and the nature of the gift.

Motivational gifts can be effective if they are personalized to the employee’s interests and preferences. For example, giving a book on leadership to an employee who aspires to become a manager can be motivating. Additionally, a thoughtful gift that shows appreciation for an employee’s hard work and dedication can boost their morale and motivation. However, it’s important to note that gifts alone are not enough to motivate employees in the long run. Employers should also provide opportunities for growth and development, recognition and rewards, and a positive work culture. 

Ideas to Motivate Employees

Company Retreat

A company retreat can be a powerful tool for motivating employees. By taking employees out of their everyday work environment and into a new setting, a retreat can help them break out of their routine and see their work in a new light. A well-planned company retreat can be an effective way to re-energize and inspire employees, leading to increased productivity and job satisfaction.

Increased PTO

Offering increased paid time off (PTO) can be a powerful motivator for employees. Providing more time for rest, relaxation, and personal pursuits can improve job satisfaction and reduce burnout, resulting in more engaged and productive employees. 

Profit Sharing

Profit sharing is a compensation strategy that rewards employees with a share of the company’s profits in addition to their regular salary. By offering this incentive, employees are motivated to work harder and smarter to increase the company’s revenue and profitability. This approach aligns employees’ interests with those of the company, encouraging them to take ownership of their work and collaborate with colleagues to achieve common goals. 

Business Brunches

Going out for brunch, lunch, or drinks with friends, family, or colleagues can be a great way to not only enjoy good food and company but also a chance to discuss personal goals and strategies. When we are in a relaxed and enjoyable environment, we tend to open up more and share our thoughts and ideas. Taking the time to discuss personal goals with others can provide valuable insights and feedback, as well as help to hold us accountable. 

Personal Life Planning and Coaching

Motivating employees by helping them with aspects outside of their work can have significant benefits for both the employees and the organization. Personal life coaching is a valuable tool for employers to offer their employees, as it can help them improve their overall well-being and performance both inside and outside of work. Life coaching sessions provide employees with a safe and supportive environment to explore their goals, values, and beliefs, and to identify any obstacles that may be preventing them from achieving their full potential. 

Motivating Employees at Every Level

How to Motivate Employees as a Manager 

Managers can become better at motivating employees by following some of these steps:

  • Set clear expectations: Be clear about what you expect from your employees in terms of performance, goals, and deadlines.
  • Provide feedback: Offer regular feedback on their work, both positive and constructive. This shows that you are invested in their growth and development.
  • Recognize achievements: Celebrate the successes of your employees, whether it’s a job well done on a project or a promotion.
  • Encourage growth and development: Provide opportunities for training, learning, and advancement within the organization.
  • Lead by example: Be a positive role model by demonstrating a strong work ethic, a positive attitude, and a commitment to the organization’s goals.

How to Motivate Underperforming Employees

Motivating underperforming employees can be a challenging task, but it is essential to address the issue to improve the overall performance of your team. Here are some tips on how to motivate underperforming employees:

  • Identify the root cause: Talk to the employee to understand the underlying cause of their underperformance. It could be a lack of skills, poor work environment, personal issues, or unclear expectations.
  • Set clear expectations: Communicate clear performance expectations, goals, and deadlines. Provide them with specific and measurable objectives that they can work towards.
  • Provide training and support: Offer additional training, mentorship, or coaching to help them improve their skills and performance.
  • Give regular feedback: Offer regular feedback on their performance, highlighting areas for improvement and recognizing their achievements.
  • Create a performance improvement plan: Work with the employee to create a performance improvement plan that outlines specific goals, timelines, and support needed to achieve success.

Learn More About How to Motivate Employees

Whether it’s one of our Enneagram assessments, (read this blog for a quick primer on the Enneagram as well as other assessments Jay uses), or any other employee topic, feel free to contact me to set up a time to chat.