Employee Motivation Techniques

At the heart of PERFORMance

Employee Motivation Techniques

At the heart of PERFORMance

“Employee Motivation Techniques” is the seventh article in our series on performance management. Motivation is at the heart of performance. So knowing what motivates people, and how you can encourage it, is a critical management skill.

Think back to a time when you felt really energised, excited and yes, motivated at work? What was it that motivated you?

It’s more than likely that you were doing something you were really interested in, where you had a lot of freedom to get on with things, in a way you saw fit.


Employee motivation techniquesThis article is part of our series on How to Motivate Employees to PERFORM. Knowing how to motivate employees is one of the most important aspects of a manager’s job. As important though, is the need to manage the factors that contribute to that motivation, and to create the conditions for people to perform and realise their potential.

Our tool to help you achieve these management skills is the Apex PERFORM model. It stands for:

  • P – Potential
  • E – Expertise
  • R – Results
  • F – Focus
  • O – Opportunities
  • R – Resources
  • M – Motivation

Motivation is one of the most important aspects of good management. It may be a complex and frustrating issue, with different people being motivated by different things. However without appropriate employee motivation techniques you are unlikely to see improved performance.

Ironically, it can be managers themselves who end up de-motivating employees. This is a point provocatively made by David Sirota and his colleagues:

“… the key question is not how to motivate employees, but how to sustain – and prevent management from destroying – the motivation that employees naturally bring to their jobs.”

The starting point for managers then may well be to find out what motivates people and then try and not get in the way! So what do we understand by the word motivation?

Employee Motivation Techniques

Knowing how to motivate employees means understanding the basics of motivation. Put simply, motivation is the intent or desire to act. However, people can be motivated by different things and motivation is essentially a complex and often personal issue.

For some, external factors are important, such as wealth, perks, status and position. For others, motivation is more about intrinsic factors, such as: feeling satisfied; enjoying a sense of challenge; feeling valued and trusted, being empowered; or realizing their potential.

What motivates someone then may well fall somewhere between intrinsic and external factors. Try to find out which of these is most likely motivate an employee, in order to put the best employee motivation techniques to work. If someone is more motivated by intrinsic factors think about some of the following techniques:

  • offer meaningful assignments
  • set challenging goals with the member of staff
  • provide interesting work
  • focus on the value of work being done
  • trust and empower people to take responsibility and decisions
  • offer developmental opportunities
  • encourage staff to share their knowledge and expertise
  • value what they do and show it, – praisin’ is amazin’!

If they appear to be more motivated by external factors then consider emphasizing:

  • financial benefits, competitive salary and/or target-related bonuses
  • tangible fringe benefits associated with the role such as access to facilities, memberships, discounted product/services
  • visible symbols of position, power or hierarchy
  • employee of the month rewards, symbols activities
  • position and promotion opportunities
  • lengths of service rewards, such as pay raises, extra annual leave or incremental increases in fringe benefits

It’s worth remembering that employees may well be motivated by a combination of both kinds of motivation. And of course, motivations are not fixed and can vary depending on a range of circumstances both inside and outside of work. For example, Maslow’s oft cited theory of motivation provides a clear indication of how people can go through phases of motivational focus, depending on a range of factors. And managing the increasing number of remote workers has perhaps made trust and empowerment even more important than ever.

But whilst it’s important to consider the needs of individual employees, there’s also a very interesting question to ask. Which of type of motivation is most likely to result in improved performance?

The Best Employee Motivation Technique?

The answer is surprisingly clear. Better performance comes from intrinsic motivation. In fact, if you tried to condense the work of noted psychologist Frederick Herzberg into one line, it might be this:

The one thing that would most probably motivate people would be to make work interesting and challenging.

Perhaps we have made motivation more complex than it needs to be? It’s probably true that, if extrinsic factors are missing or done badly in an organisation, then people might be de-motivated, But putting that right won’t necessarily spur people on to be motivated and to perform. In trying to apply lots of different employee motivation techniques have we lost track of arguably the most fundamental requirement: to create interesting and challenging work.

Our performance management resources are some of the most popular in our store. Like many other visitors, you might be interested in the complete set of performance management resources. These have been conveniently bundled together, to address all aspects of performance (this bundle includes the resources and tools mentioned in this article).

Practicing employee motivation techniques
Applying our principles of performance management

15 Performance Management Tips e-guide

If you’re interested in applying our principles of performance management turn to our fantastic e-guide bundle. Including a colossal 253 pages and 95 tools, it contains 8 key guides we recommend to help you manage better performance, at half price!

It’s All About Performance (24 pages, 4 diagnostic tools)
Managing Performance and Potential (26 pages, 4 tools)
Conducting a Performance Review (33 pages, 8 tools)
Manage Your Own Performance (28 pages, 6 tools)
Motivating Performance (37 pages, 10 tools)
Performance Management Skills (19 pages, 7 tools)
15 Performance Management Tips (20 pages, 15 tips)
Performance Management Toolkit (66 pages, 41 tools – divided into the seven steps of a performance management process).

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