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  • Writer's pictureKathy Miles

Motivating for Success in the Workplace

Motivating for Success in the Workplace

What is Motivation?

Motivation is perhaps one of the most misunderstood concepts in the modern workplace, right? Don’t believe me? Well consider this:

How many times, in performance reviews particularly, is an employee's perceived lack of motivation their fault?

Suppose I was to flip that perception by saying, there is no such thing as an employee that lacks motivation. There is however, such a thing as an employee that has not been led to success by their leader understanding HOW to motivate them.

Human beings have a basic need for approval, to be wanted, to fit in.

Perhaps the employee you think lacks motivation really desperately wants to do well, is disciplined and keen to extend every effort to make their work - and the team around them - a success, but they don't know how to make it happen?

Could you call that a lack of employee motivation? Not at all - the employee is totally motivated, but rather they are at best misdirected or worst still, not led at all.

A leader's job is to get things done through people. The way to do this is through motivation.

For a leader, motivation is the ability to get your people to willingly do what you need them to do. Effective motivation can be a powerful tool by which a leader can increase staff performance and productivity.

Unfortunately the reality is that the majority of the workforce is poorly motivated. The reason for this is that many leaders try and motivate everyone in the same way. This is never going to work as motivation is a personal thing, everyone has different motivations and needs. It is up to a leader to find out what motivates each employee and then use this knowledge in the most appropriate way.

What Role does Employee Motivation Play in an Organisation’s Performance and Success?

Employee motivation is critical to successful performance in the workplace. If every employee has clear goals, clear tasks, clear outcomes and deliverables to achieve, as well as having a clear vision of success, they would immediately become more productive.

It could be said that motivation is not a measure of the employee, but of the goals being successfully communicated to them in a way that builds relevance, cooperation and application.

Tips for Motivating Employees:

Motivation is a relatively simple concept being that we need to understand what drives a person to want to succeed and produce great work. The application of that concept is what takes knowledge, skill and practice.

I have seen many highly experienced leaders fall into the trap of believing that the only way to motivate employees is through money. Compensation is a motivator for many, but there are also many other non-financial ways to motivate. What might work for one person, will not work for the next.

Below are some different key motivations that employees may have:

  • Driven by Job Satisfaction - These people want to do the best work, as much as possible.

  • Driven by Pleasing People - These people want to do good work to receive feedback or approval from their managers or peers.

  • Driven by Success - These people want to do a good job to impress and hopefully move up the ladder through promotion.

  • Driven by Completed Work - These people simply want a clear desk, a clear mind and to be able to ‘process to neutral’ - so the faster they complete tasks, the more at ease they will be mentally.

  • Driven by Going Home - These people want to finish work as quickly as possible and go home, but that one task is preventing them from doing so - which in turn motivates them to finish it.

  • Driven by Financial Incentives - These people want to be rewarded financially for the work they do.

  • Driven by Teamwork - These people are motivated by working with a group of people they enjoy working with. This might be because they are like-minded, well respected, fun or well-liked people.

  • Driven by the Task - These people love what they do and this motivates them to do it well.

So the one tip that can be applied to improve motivation is quite simple. We need to spend time trying to understand our employees in order to find out what motivates them. In turn, we can then use that knowledge to set an incentive that will appeal to that individual.

If we find out what drives them, they will deliver.

PDI Solutions can work with organisations to develop and deliver training tailored to your particular organisation. Topics such as motivation, employee engagement and Emotional Intelligence form core topics in leadership training, an area that PDI Solutions specialises in. Contact us today for a free consultation at or visit our website at

Contact PDI Solutions Today

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