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Discovering What Motivates Your Employees

We’re all different and one of the challenges of managing employees and working with colleagues as part of a team is discovering what motivates different individuals. One size does not fit all when it comes to management. The best and most effective managers are able to adjust their management style and take the time to get to know individuals and find out what inspires and motivates them.

Easier said than done, of course. The most obvious way to find out what motivates individuals is to simply ask them. This can be done using a regular evaluation or through one-on-one meetings. While some employees may not have a grasp on the why of what they do and what they appreciate in a work environment, many do. Many have the self-awareness to know whether or not they are motivated by competition, work ethic, popularity, the desire to be influential or helpful, etc. Try asking and you might find you gain insight into what motivates the workforce.

There are some basic motivations that may or may not inspire the individuals who work for your company. It might be helpful to see if any of these fit: some individuals have a strong desire to compete and “be the best” – these people can be inspired by contests and team projects.

Other individuals like to know exactly what is expected of them and are motivated to accomplish specific, designated tasks in order to feel productive. These individuals often respond well to organized schedules and quotas. Still others have a strong desire to feel as though they are being influential and affecting change. These people like to feel as though they are part of the solution and included in important meetings and involved in problem-solving.

In addition to these “human nature” motivations, workers may also be inspired by opportunities for advancement, increased pay, more, better or different benefits and perks, flexible time, the type of work environment, etc. People can be complicated individuals and may be working in a particular job for a variety of reasons and in order to meet a variety of personal needs. The challenge for a manager is trying to decipher what those factors are in order to inspire productivity, efficiency and a creative work environment.

Watch how workers interact with each other, with their job responsibilities and with supervisors, and you will likely gather even more information about personality and motivation. As a manager, it takes time and effort to learn how to work with a diverse group of people and discover how to motivate and appreciate how that diversity can add to the bottom line.