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Motivating employees, or inspiring employees to be more accurate, implies that we understand why people take action. Ask yourself these two questions:

Ideally, as leaders we’d like to inspire our employees so that the reasons they act are positive, and, they have made the reasons their own.

Let’s look at these two questions by placing them in four quadrants.

Motivating Employees

Extrinsic Motivation vs. Intrinsic Motivation

Let’s look at these two questions by placing them in four quadrants.

  1. Starting with the upper right, extrinsic motivation for positive reasons, the carrot approach. Examples include a pay raise, bonus, or other some incentive.
  1. Moving clockwise, extrinsic motivation for negative reasons, the stick approach. Examples include any threat or reprimand. If you don’t do X … you’re fired. You get the idea.
  1. Next, intrinsic motivation for negative reasons, I don’t want to do this… let’s move on.
Motivating Employees
  1. Finally, we want to inspire our employees to reach a point of intrinsic motivation for positive reasons; I want to do this. Better still, I want to do this and nothing is going to stop me from achieving my goal.

Motivating Employees

Motivating employees implies that you know what makes others “tick,” understanding basic human wants and needs, and you apply knowledge of the quadrants above.

First, however, leaders must have excellent interpersonal skills and be able to establish trust.  You can make great strides by keeping these four principles in mind:

Individually, everyone wants:

  1. to be treated with dignity and respect
  2. the opportunity to learn and grow

Collectively, everyone wants:

  1. to feel like their contributions matter
  2. to be a part of something greater

3. Our values and beliefs shape our attitude, which impact every decision we make. Experiences lead to beliefs.  The more we experience something, the greater the intensity of the belief. We begin to value these things, and over time, this shapes our attitude, our approach to every situation. It’s what makes us unique.

For example, let’s say you almost drown at an early age. You start to form a belief about water and swimming. If it happens again, you are likely to de-value open water.

You form an attitude about open water. Every time you have an opportunity to go swimming, you’ll likely decline, most likely never revealing your reasons WHY.

Cooling off by going for a swim is NOT something that will motivate you to take action!

Take this assessment and deepen your understanding of human wants and needs

7 Dimensions for Motivating Employees

Behavioral psychologists Eduard Spranger and Gordon Allport identified six dimensions of motivation, and Jay Niblick at Innermetrix Corporation expanded their work and created the Values-Index™ assessment, a contemporary marketplace instrument that now includes seven dimensions of motivation.

The seven dimensions are:

  • Aesthetic – a drive for balance, harmony, and form.
  • Economic – a drive for economic or practical returns.
  • Individualistic – a drive to stand out as independent and unique.
  • Political – a drive to be in control or have influence.
  • Altruist – a drive for humanitarian efforts or to help others altruistically.
  • Regulatory – a drive to establish order, routine, and structure.
  • Theoretical – a drive for knowledge, learning and understanding.

Developing Leadership Skills

Create an environment of engaged employees by communicating your values, and read more about teamwork, team building skills, team building exercises, and being a team leader.

Tom Crea

Tom Crea is an author, leadership speaker, and leadership development coach who travels from Pittsburgh, PA.  Tom's passion is sharing lessons learned in how learning to delegate made his life easier.