Motivating Your Employees

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This is an introduction to how motivational training works. The article also provides a short introduction to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and Frederick Herzberg’s distinction of motivational factors.

In its most simple definition, motivation is the desire to act. Employees are at the heart of all new leadership theories, which adopt the model “advise and consent” to the detriment of the old “command and control”. This radical change of attitude is the key to fully put to use your human resources’ potential.

Firstly, let us go through Abraham Maslow’s need pyramid (1 being most basic and 5 being most complex):

   1. Physiological needs (warmth, food, sex);

   2. Security needs (personal, above all);

   3. Social needs (interaction with others and making friends);

   4. The need to be appreciated (earning others’ respect);

5. The need to win (to gain a profit).

This “pyramid” is quite important to motivation, as once a need is satisfied, it does not constitute a stimulus for productivity anymore. Thus, when an employee appears to be unmotivated, it is best to establish the need from the pyramid that has been satisfied and, implicitly, the next level that will most surely motivate him or her.

Secondly, an employer should always see that hygiene motivational factors are satisfied. These factors vary from parking spaces to rest holidays and they include salary, work conditions (work schedule, environment and facilities), firm policy and so on. If you, as employer, satisfy these factors, you will only attain a temporary motivational effect from your employees. Therefore, it is vital not to limit your concern at keeping all conditions and practices disease-free.

Remember that, even though these are not quite as important as motivator factors, not attending to hygiene factors means creating long-term motivational problems within your organization. It is best to think of the above as a basis on which to construct the following.

As a manager, your primary concern should be to facilitate motivator factors, such as:

  • Achievement, meaning objective accomplishment or even objective outstripping. A manager facilitates this motivational factor by assigning tasks which he knows that employees can carry out.

  • Recognition on behalf of all superiors. A simple “thank you” uttered every time an employee carries out a task should suffice in an early stage.

  • Interest in the work itself, which consists of harmonizing responsibilities with individual interests. You should focus on this especially during your first interview with the employee, in which you can gain a lot of data concerning how motivated he or she is to do your company’s work.

  • Responsibility means allowing the employee exercise a certain amount of authority. Through this factor you will exploit the employee’s leadership, initiative and risk-assuming capabilities. All of these will certainly raise his / her self-esteem. Be careful that when you assign a task to an employee you also assign full responsibility for its accomplishment.

  • Finally, promotion relates to growth within the company, not necessarily in position, but also in terms of material growth. Remember that the number one factor that turns a manager into a leader is honesty. Be sure to always respond in an honest way when an employee is concerned about promotion possibilities. If promotion is not possible at the time being, offer explicit reasons why and show interest in the employee’s desire to get better and gain more recognition.

This basically sums up the two things a manager should always bear in mind: which need will motivate his employees and how to make use of motivator factors.


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