Good old ”MO”. Leaders, Managers, Directors, Vice President and Presidents have been talking about this for decades and it comes back to the same old – same old “you cannot motivate anybody who doesn’t want to be motivated because motivation is an inside job it comes from within”.

The concept of motivation has been around for years. It is the driving force that encourages individuals to actually achieve their goals and objectives. It is a complex process that involves various factors such as; individual needs, values, beliefs expectations and what lies within us.

For the most part motivation is intrinsic but I can also be extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation occurs when individuals, are driven by internal factors such as personal satisfaction, sense of accomplishment or a desire to learn, grow and develop. Extrinsic motivation on the other hand is when people are driven by those external factors such as rewards, recognition, money or the fear of punishment.

There were several benefits of having motivated employees in the workplace, regardless if it is a result of intrinsic or extrinsic factors. For the most part, motivated employees are productive, efficient and committed to their work; resulting in better outcomes for the organizations. They are also more satisfied with their jobs and are less likely to resign or be absent from work which in turn reduces employee turnover and your absenteeism rate. Therefore, it is essential for leaders to understand the importance of employee motivation and the different strategies that can be used to set the table for motivation to begin. Notice “it’s to set the table; not to motivate” – we cannot motivate anybody who doesn’t want to be motivated.

We have all heard of the different theories associated with motivation. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Herzberg Two Factor Theory, Expectancy Theory, Victor Vrooms Theory and Self-Determination Theory by Deci and Ryan. These theories all have one thing in common and that is they all fail in comparison to the real life – real drama motivation.

Now; I don’t want to “beat this to death”, I also have challenges motivating my associates. However, the following are some elements that may work well and perhaps you might like to utilize in your day-to-day leadership techniques in order to set the motivation table.

1. Create a positive working environment.

Creating a positive work environment is essentially motivating employees because it fosters a sense of belonging, increases job satisfaction and reduces stress levels. Leaders say that in order to create a positive working environment one might wish to provide comfortable work spaces, promote teamwork, encourage employee achievements, offer opportunities for personal growth and development and reduce meetings.

2. Provide clear expectations.

Employees need to know what is expected of them in order to perform well. They need to know what critical success factors are. In providing clear expectations helps employee understands the role of the business unit and how their work contributes to the overall success of the business unit and the organization. Clear expectations also help employees set realistic goals for themselves and monitor progress towards achieving those goals.

3. Offer opportunities for career development.

Employees are more motivated when they feel that their employer values their personal growth and development. Organizations can offer opportunities for career development such as training, mentoring and coaching programs. These opportunities not only improve employee skills and knowledge but also increase job satisfaction and engagement when hooked directly to the job.

4. Recognition and rewards.

Recognizing employee achievements is one of the most effective ways to motivate employees. Recognition takes many forms, including verbal praise, certificates of achievement, bonuses, promotions, rewards and recognition. The aforementioned can make employees feel valued and appreciated, and this intern motivate them to perform better in the future.

5. Provide a flexible work schedule.

Flexible work schedule allows employees to balance their work and personal life which can improve their job satisfaction and improve motivation. A flexible work schedule includes options such as working from home and flexible hours. This flexibility helps employees manage their work life balance and reduce stress levels.

6. Provide a competitive salary and benefits package.

Offering a competitive salary and benefits package is essential to motivate employees because employees feel valued and appreciated and it illustrates that the organization values employees. By providing benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans and time off also improve employee satisfaction.

7. Encourage employee input.

Encouraging employee input into decision making processes, makes employees feel valued and engaged in their work. Organizations can provide employee input by creating an open door policy, soliciting feedback and involving employees in the decision making process that directly affect their work.

8. Treat people like you’re the most important thing in the world.

Industrial Psychologists tell us that dignity and respect means being treated with care and compassion. Employees who have their views listened to and taken into consideration experience a positive boost of energy and confidence because they feel a sense of control, happiness and optimism. Another thing that Industrial Psychologists tell us in their research is that motivation is a derivative of self – control, happiness and optimism.

9. Rid your organization of “FLOATERS”.

In order for employees to soar like eagles they cannot fly with a group of turkeys. John Calvin Maxwell American author, speaker and Pastor has written many books with the focus on leadership and motivation and he introduced the “352 Rule”. The rule states that; 30% of your people are your “STAR” employees; 50% of your people are your “FOUNDATIONAL” employees and 20% are “FLOATERS”. The key here is to keep the 20% away from the other 80% and the best way to do that is to rid your organization of those “FLOATERS” and send a signal to the remaining people that we will not tolerate incompetence and our expectations are high.

10. Challenge your people.

The majority of employees desire to have meaningful and challenging work as part of their job activities. Having some level of difficulty in work is preferable to the boredom and mundane tasks. As leaders we are aware that employees having work that brings them satisfaction it’s not only a great motivator but, also plays an important role in keeping employees engaged. While a number of us at times need to work on projects that are relatively insignificant and at times boring, we are usually much more willing to do so if there’s another project waiting for us that will excite us. As leaders we attempt to make sure that every employee has at least something they do that fits meaningful and challenging work categories.


Employee motivation is essential for the success of any organization. A motivated workforce is more productive because they are engaged and committed to achieving the company goals.

Associate Professor & Researcher at the Institute for Motivational Studies & Research in Tokyo, Japan, Dr. Yukiko Iso states that there are five reasons why companies with motivated employees are more successful; they are:

  • Increased Productivity – motivated employees are more engaged in their work and take more pride in their accomplishments.
  • Improve quality of work – motivated employees are more likely to put in the extra effort needed to ensure that their work is of high quality.
  • Lower absenteeism and turnover – motivated employees are less likely to miss work or leave the organization because they are more satisfied with their job and the company.
  • Better customer service – motivated employees tend to be more responsive and helpful with customers which in turn will lead to approve the customer satisfaction loyalty.
  • Innovation and creativity – motivated employees are more likely to come up with new ideas and solutions to minimize workplace challenges which in turn will lead to growth for the organization.

Nicholas Pollice is President of The Pollice Management Consulting Group located in Niagara, Ontario, Canada. An international facilitator, presenter and consultant, he is known as an operations management leader and coach. Nicholas conducts programs in leadership, supervision, communication, negotiation, conflict resolution and strategic planning. He has been an international consultant since 1989 and is the author of several professional publications. His presentations have been consistently ranked in the top 10% throughout North America. See Nicholas’ bio, his other publications and services on the PMCG. Website at