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A Manager's Guide to Motivation

Motivation is crucial to good management. But different things motivate different people, and if you're a manager, understanding what motivates your staff is the key to everyone's success.


"You can't force someone else to be motivated," says Carol W. Ellis, author of Management Skills for New Managers. "What you can do is provide a work environment that offers opportunities designed to spark their inner drive."

Motivating factors

Often people of various ages with different life experiences have different motivators.

"To find out what motivates each of your staff members, pay attention to how they react to a variety of projects or objectives," says Ms. Ellis. "Then ask them questions regarding the kinds of changes they believe would increase their job satisfaction."

Once the factors are identified, take action by making changes that will increase your staffers' desire to succeed.

Most people are motivated by one or more of these needs:
  • Achievement
  • Responsibility
  • Recognition
  • Meaningfulness
  • Advancement

To satisfy the need for achievement, you should ensure that an employee's goals are set and monitored on an ongoing basis. You should provide ongoing feedback on goal achievement, and offer training opportunities to increase success.

To meet the need for responsibility, you should provide opportunities for employees to be visible and have influence. Ask for their opinions and suggestions, and delegate opportunities for them to organize and direct activities.

For employees who seek recognition, you should provide opportunities for people to work with others, as well as a chance to be visible to upper management. You should establish a relationship that provides feedback and attention.

For those that need meaningfulness in their jobs, offer opportunities to cross-train so they understand how their work contributes to the company's overall objectives. Also, give them an opportunity to take on new responsibilities.

To satisfy the need for advancement, ask employees about their career objectives and provide training opportunities on subjects of interest to them.

"The bottom line is that as a manager, you're responsible for getting people to perform, and if you create the right environment, it's more likely your staff will do what needs to be done," says Ms. Ellis.