People - Top Tips - Motivation




This document is designed as a quick reference guide to motivation

This will enable you to gain knowledge of a particular skill, task or process in the workplace. This means you can quickly find the key information that you need and refer to it on an ongoing basis whenever you need to refresh your knowledge.



Motivation is not about making a person do something against their will, but inspiring them to want to do it voluntarily. The dictionary defines motivation as ‘providing an incentive’, but what is an incentive? We all have different motivators – things that make us tick – and different incentives satisfy these, but they will change depending on our circumstances both inside and outside work

People - Top Tips - Motivation

What you need to know

A good base for understanding what motivates human beings is found in the theory by Maslow, who shows this as a pyramid:



It is shown in this way as the key point is that each layer must be complete before attempting to tackle the ones above it. Once one level of need is satisfied, people will begin to work towards satisfying the next level. Similarly, if circumstances change, a person will give priority towards satisfying the lowest level that they believe to be incomplete.

It has also been suggested that the lower levels are factors which did not in themselves motivate people, but their absence will de-motivate people, and therefore only the upper layers are true positive motivators.



So what does this mean for you as a manager? The two key messages are:


Find out what’s in your team’s pyramids - A sales colleague who hates flying is unlikely to be motivated by a chance to win a holiday abroad, as this would not represent relief from (mental or physical) pain. However, a person who loves foreign travel is more likely to find this an incentive.


Find out where they are in their pyramid - The same holiday would be no incentive to a person whose job is under threat - and therefore possibly their mortgage repayments or rent, and therefore their home, as the bottom layers in their pyramid are incomplete, and a holiday like this is likely to fit in the top level. Similarly, a chance to have their mortgage paid off would be no incentive to a couple who have no mortgage, and who are near the top of their pyramid.



What can you use to motivate your team? Not all the likely options cost money; consider instead alternatives which are low- or no-cost, such as:


     Simply saying ‘Thank you’ or ‘Well done’ – this is free!

     Praising a person for a job done well – again, this is free

     Recognising the person’s contribution in front of the team – still free!

     Changing the arrangement of working hours or days

     Changing product groups for which a person is responsible

     Wider-ranging duties or a variety

     Added responsibility


Not all of these apply in any given situation; it is to serve as a guide.


Time v effect

Consider also how long you want this to last; will it be a short intense burst of extra effort or a sustained growth over time. For example, the effect of money as an incentive is powerful but very short-lived, whereas extra responsibility is much slower to take effect but is sustained over a much longer term.



It is also worth looking to see if there are any de-motivating factors that you could remove at little or no cost. These might include:

     Lack of recognition – how would you feel if no-one ever said ‘Thank You’ or ‘Well done’ to you?

     Poor team facilities – would a coat of paint or a new kettle help?

     Untidy back areas – what does this say about how much we care for our people?

     Worn or missing uniforms for store staff – can these be replaced?

     Lack of information or training – do the team know what’s going on?

     Rigid duties and rotas – could the team arrange their own tasks?


Look at your team and your business and think what you could do!