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Tips on How to Motivate your workforce

When a manager of leader asks me how to motivate their staff, the main aim I uncover is that they are trying to improve efficiency, productivity and quality.

How might poor motivation in an organisation show itself?

  • High levels of absenteeism and labour turnover
  • Which would lead to higher costs for organisation
  • This might cause a fall in the external image of the company, so the organisation might experience problems in recruiting and retaining employees
  • It certainly could show itself in low productivity
  • The combined effect of these would be to reduce competitive advantage

Motivational studies have been carried out for over 100 years now and theories range from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Vroom’s Expectancy theory and Kanter’s theory of empowerment. Whenever I run a course on management skills, people always ask me the question: What should I do to motivate my people?

Here is my simple approach to the subject of motivation that has worked well for me over the years:


1.  Get to know every individual you manage

The theories are great and always good to know, however every single individual knows when they feel motivated in a situation. Herzberg’s theory of motivation started with (essentially) two questions of each person he interviewed:

Question A – Think of a time when you felt especially bad about your job. Why did you feel that way?

Question B – Think of a time when you felt especially good about your job. Why did you feel that way?

These seem simple questions yet if we really understand what a working day feels like for our people then we can act on this information.


2.  Act on question A. Outcomes from this are the demotivators (Herzberg called them ‘hygiene’ factors)

I, (like Herzberg), find that if people have poor equipment to do the role, or an uncomfortable working environment or aren’t paid the right rate for the job they are doing, these can lead to poor performance, lack of energy and demotivation.  These are just examples of demotivators – Herzberg called them dissatisfiers.

A good Manager will have the knowledge and skills to be able to work alongside their member of staff to create a business case to reduce or eliminate the dissatisfiers.

Ask yourself the question : What will be the cost if I don’t act on question A? This should motivate you to find the time.


3.  Act on question B. Your person is telling you their motivators.

Every person will have different motivators.  Motivators are intrinsic to the job and could be the level of responsibility, or challenging work or being developed as an individual.

Look at the examples below:

Hygiene issues (dissatisfiers)                            Motivators (satisfiers)

Company and administrative policies                       Work itself

Supervision                                                              Achievement

Salary                                                                      Recognition

Interpersonal relations                                             Responsibility

Working conditions                                                   Advancement


Our programmes at The Development Company develop managers to have meaningful one to one discussions with their staff and how to act on the information they are given.

One client we have tailored a recent management skills programme for is Underwoods Town and County – they are looking to develop leaders who can facilitate staff in every day discussions to uncover motivations.

How can we motivate our people? You cannot motivate anyone to do anything – they do it for their own reasons. Our job as managers is to uncover their reasons.

Talk to us today if you are looking for a programme that will enable your to have the confidence to have meaningful discussions with your staff and uncover their motivators.