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How to Motivate Employees


Knowing how to motivate employees is one of the most important aspects of a manager’s job. An excellent tool to help you develop your motivational skills is our Apex PERFORM model. Use this model to help you create and manage the conditions for improved performance in the workplace.

This article introduces our series on performance management and outlines the PERFORM framework as a whole. There are 7 other articles in the series, all of which you can access from this page.Dictionary definitions of the word “perform” refer to things that are accomplished or fulfilled.

All too often, though, performance management is about a narrow interpretation of these definitions, such as just ensuring targets are met, or that processes are adhered to. Performance management is now often seen as a corrective action, something we do to manage poor performance.

Of course we need to set goals, and we need processes to provide structure. However, these should not be a main focus of management, and certainly not at the expense of encouraging people to realise their potential.Maybe we should be talking about performance management as something to help our people accomplish something significant. Perhaps we should think about fulfilment in terms of realizing results, but also realizing potential. Surely that is how to motivate employees.

Anything significant or worthwhile will involve the management of skills, attitudes and potential. It will also require the deployment of resources and a focus on achieving goals. Motivating our people is not necessarily an easy function of management, but it is one area where good management really can make a difference.

How to motivate employees to PERFORM

How to motivate employees


Regardless of how performance management processes are designed in your organization, or of the culture within which they’re embedded, how you interpret and use performance management techniques is up to you.

What is most important is the need to manage the factors that contribute to employee motivation, and to create the conditions for people to perform and realise their potential.

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

  • P – Potential – foster a positive attitude towards developing potential in your people
  • E – Expertise – abilities, experience and attitudes needed to perform a job
  • R – Results – for individuals, for their teams, and for their organisations
  • F – Focus – on worthwhile, challenging, personal goals that relate to wider objectives
  • O – Opportunities – to achieve, advance and grow
  • R – Resources – needed in order to support people and to help them perform
  • M – Motivation – making work interesting and challenging

When considering this model, it’s important to remember that all of the factors are interdependent. For example, the absence of proper job training will affect a person’s expertise. This will probably affect their motivation, and quite likely their opportunity to progress. Conversely, the absence of opportunity to develop may have a negative impact on their motivation, and thus their desire to learn or apply themselves.


Learning how to motivate employees begins with helping people to reach their potential. If we are to find ways to raise performance up to the next level, then we need to find ways to convert potential into performance. “Employees Appraisal: Realizing Potential” is the first article in our series for a good reason. Motivating employees to perform must begin with helping them to realize their potential.


“Employee Performance Review: Making Expertise Count” is the second article in our series and stresses the importance of putting someone’s expertise to work, where it can contribute the most. By expertise we mean the skills, knowledge and behaviour that people must possesses, or need to possess, in order to do their job.


Our third arcticle in the PERFORM series is: “Benefits of Employee Training: Seeing the Results”. Here we ask: how do you realize the benefits of the training and support you’ve provided to improve someone’s performance? If performance is about contribution, then support must be linked to results. There needs to be clarity about what results you want to achieve, and an assessment of what results are actually achieved.


Performance needs focus. It’s one thing to do something well, but it’s equally important to ensure it’s the right things that are done well. Individual performances, whilst possibly being good in themselves, can be counter-productive if they don’t contribute to the wider goals of the team and organization. Controlling this requires good planning and good management. We give some tips on how to do both in: “Performance Management Plan: Be Focused”.


Without opportunities, a performance management plan will only ever be just just that: a plan. Knowing how to motivate employees is not enough. That knowledge must be combined with a willingness to give people opportunities to perform. We discuss this crucial element of our PERFORM model in our article: Employee Training Development.


Performanced based management is about more than ambition, words or ideas. To encourage employees to perform you need to support them with the right resources. These resources must then be allocated and managed in order to ensure they are most effectively used. Having provided opportunities for people to perform, next it’s crucial to understand the importance of resourcing performance based management.


Knowing how to motivate employees is a complex business and there are numerous pages on this site designed to help. Employee Motivation Techniques has been especially written to relate to the PERFORM model. In this article we explore some fundamental principles of motivation but also ask some more challenging questions.

The Energy to Perform

Of course, just knowing how to motivate employees is not enough. Motivation is important but it’s not effective without energy. Whilst motivation is considered to be the intent or desire to act, energy can be defined as the capacity to perform work. If you want to know how to motivate employees properly, use the Apex PERFORM model. It will help you combine the intent or desire of motivation, with the capacity and capability to achieve, that is: to PERFORM.

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