Do You Know What Motivates Employees?

What motivates employees?


So you think that you can’t motivate your employees or sales team. You are not alone. But what motivates employees? All employers would love to know the answer to this question. Here’s a clue: although it sounds simple, motivation is personal to each employee. What motivates one employee may have no bearing on another employee. That said, there seems to be some consistency in the basic need of each employee to maintain a level of motivation.


Loyalty to a Good Leader Motivates


Although this seems elementary, leadership is often forgotten as a motivator. Our leadership skills are tested every day for several different reasons, but the fact that our employees need us to be their trusted advisor sometimes eludes us.


We have the ability to help our teams and employees grow into the people that they don’t even know they can become. When we listen to their goals and dreams, we have the privilege – yes, privilege – of molding and shaping them and leading them to the path that will help them realize their full potential. When we do that, when we invest in them and what THEY want, we see their motivation levels rise. We see them start to take ownership of their future. Then, their loyalty to us as leaders ­– and to the company, as a catalyst for achieving their goals – grows and drives them to perform at optimum levels.


Career Advancement


The ability to see an opportunity for career advancement is hyper-motivating for most employees. The sales people or team members who know where they want their careers to advance find motivation in the ability to grow with a company. When your people recognize that you’re invested in growing your team from within, this truly becomes a motivating factor.


Proverbs 29:18 says: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” The truth in that proverb is evident when you see employees who have no opportunities in front of them grow dull and lose their enthusiasm. Remember to talk to your team about future growth plans and how they might fit into that future.

Have an impact

Having an impact Can Motivate


Whether the impact is at the company level or, say, on a coworker, people want to feel needed and that they can make a difference. This can be a huge motivator. One company I work with is very involved with the community – not just for the publicity, but because its owners know that if they invest in the community, they will leave the city a better place than they found it. Although this is a lofty ideal, it didn’t influence the firm’s culture and employee motivation until it started getting its employees involved. When the employees took pride in their community involvement and participated in events that made an impact, we saw their levels of motivation rise. We saw their maturity levels rise to the challenge of being better. They knew that if this company wanted to be a part of the community, they had to care.


At the same time, when a co-worker is in need, truly in need, these same employees ensure that others know about it so that they can all invest in their team. This kind of motivation may not be what you thought you wanted – but it is indeed what you should want. A sense of community starts at the workplace.


Harvard Business Review


The Harvard Business Review showed that most employees express job satisfaction in these three categories:


  1. Achievement
  2. Recognition
  3. The work itself


I agree that achievement can be a motivating factor. When goals or targets are reached and/or exceeded, this is an achievement and generally a motivating factor. We all set goals, and when we achieve them we feel accomplished. This feeling of accomplishment is the force that motivates us.


Recognition is motivating for some, but for introverts, public recognition can be painful or uncomfortable. But most people want to be recognized for a job well done. I sometimes fail at this – not because I don’t appreciate the person’s accomplishment, but because I expect so much from my team. I know they’ll rise to every challenge. This is why I hired them. But remembering to stop and acknowledge hard work is so important to them, so don’t let this task slide. You’ll find them motivated to work harder and accomplish much more when you remember to recognize them.

Motivation sales team

This is a great article on praise and performance:


What motivates me?


This is an interesting question, because it calls for some introspection. I don’t usually reflect on myself, so let’s see how this turns out.


I am a bit of stress junkie who longs for peace. But motivating myself has never been an issue. I came from a poor family and never wanted to stay in poverty. I am also a strong leader and influencer, so I knew early on that being in management or an entrepreneur was in my future. But, ultimately, I am motivated by doing a good job. I am embarrassed by accolades, but I revel in my own success. I know when I totally kick ass and deliver an amazing project.


Being aware of when I have had a profound effect on someone’s life for the better. This motivates me.

Whether I’m making a difference in someone’s career or their personal life, I am super-motivated. But knowing that I can positively impact someone’s business and touch dozens of lives with my expertise – now that is what DRIVES me. I want to leave a legacy, even if only a handful of people know about it. I want to work with a team of people who see a struggling business, work with it and make a difference to that business. We do this all the time, we create something that was not there previously and transform the business.


This is what drives me to be better every day, to learn as much as I can and to teach my team everything I know. I strive to learn from my team and enjoy the success that they also enjoy. This is my drug of choice.

Success Motivates


How do I motivate my team?


This question is important to me, so it’s important that I get it right.


I seldom rock this part of my duties. Because I am a very direct communicator, and the fluffy stuff is painful for me. I need to slow down and remember that acknowledgement is important and that they need me to celebrate with them the successes that they have on a daily and weekly basis. We mostly work remotely, so there’s more of a need for this than in most jobs. Since we lack the camaraderie that often exists in an office environment, I have to discipline myself to consider my team more often.

Listen to your employees


Some of the ways I can accomplish this are:


  1. To acknowledge that we are a team. I cannot accomplish this without them.
  2. To discover their long-term goals and dreams, even if it does not include working for me. I can help them achieve their goals along the way.
  3. Listen when they are stressed, find out what their hot buttons are and discover ways to relieve them.
  4. Help them to solve their problems, help them reach their goals.


These things are motivating in that they signal to your employees that you care, and that their success is also celebrated by you.


So, what motivates employees?


So many things – but you need to find out what they are.