Think You Know What Motivates? Try Again!

So, are you certain you really know what motivates your staff? Well, most managers today have heard that money isn’t the key motivator for most people. And even if you think your people are different, consider this… After you get a raise, even if it is what you really want (like a new car), pretty soon that new salary (or car) is no longer a motivator – it is the new ‘normal’, the way things are ‘now’. Learn More

Are You Dealing With Your Team’s Basic Needs?


You will have heard of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Motivational Needs, and they are still very relevant to today’s culture and societal direction. However, since Maslow’s time, others have taken these ideas of motivation and developed them to reflect the changes we constantly go through. Among these is Tony Robbins, whose thoughts have influenced millions.

Robbins has identified six basic human needs and believes everyone is—or can be—motivated by their desire to fulfill these needs.

You may want to consider these needs when thinking about developing and driving performance through your people. The question to ask is, “What need or needs can I affect and fulfill for my team member at work?”

1. Certainty/Comfort. We all want comfort. And much of this comfort comes from certainty. Of course there is never total certainty, but we want certainty about our job security, our salary will be paid this month and our company will still be here next year. So think about how you can fulfill this particular need for physical and psychological certainty for people.

2. Variety. At the same time we want certainty, we also crave variety. Paradoxically, there needs to be enough UNcertainty to provide interest and variety in our jobs. Help people to manage projects rather than just do jobs. That way, they do different things each day, against the backdrop of certainty that has been provided.

3. Significance. Deep down, we all want to be important. We want our life to have meaning and significance. If a team member is simply doing a job that doesn’t appear to contribute very much and doesn’t drive their motivation, they won’t feel significant or that they are making a difference. Make sure that you acknowledge the significance of each employee as often as possible.

4. Connection/Love. It would be hard to argue against the need for belonging. We want to feel part of a community. We want to be cared for and cared about. This drives performance because people want to feel part of a team and that they matter to their colleagues. Give teamwork a chance to develop and help people work together towards a common goal.

5. Growth. Some managers on our programmes say that they have team members who say they don’t want to grow, but I think they’re simply fearful of doing so—or perhaps NOT doing so. To become better, to improve our skills, to stretch and excel may be more evident in some than others, but it’s there. Everyone will want to grow in some area; we just have to find out which area that is.

6. Contribution. The desire to contribute something of value is deep down in all of us. Everyone wants to feel they have contributed to something, somewhere, to somebody. This highest needs corresponds to Maslow’s self-actualisation, the thought that our life, our work, actually matters and we have made a difference simply by being here. Leaving a legacy at work should be one of our goals; we can make that a goal for every team member, also.

Robbins recognises that each person has these basic needs. As managers, we can be really successful if we make sure we assist our teams to fulfil each of these. The more you can do that, the better they will feel about themselves, and about you, and the more motivated they will feel.

Many thanks

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

(Image by David Castillo Dominici)

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Debunking The Myths of Management (Part 2)

In many companies, salary increases happen at certain times of the year and are given to every employee, regardless of their performance.


If salary increases actually do improve employee morale, you would expect to see performance and productivity go up in line with the increases, wouldn’t you? Mmm. Well, you probably know the answer to that one.

Frederick Hertzberg took a look at the factors that bring job satisfaction and dis-satisfaction. He identifies two sets or groups of factors that affected employee motivation, and called them hygiene factors and motivators. Hygiene factors included things like working conditions, pay, status and security. When these are poor, work is dis-satisfying, said Hertzberg. When they are acceptable, work is not dis-satisfying. Adding more hygiene factors does not increase employee motivation.

However, the motivators are things that influence employee satisfaction based on the fulfilment of intrinsic, or higher-level, needs. These needs include opportunities for growth, recognition, achievement, and the quality of the work itself. Motivators, says Hertzberg, improve worker satisfaction and motivation much more than hygiene factors alone ever could.

Top performance employees want to be appreciated for the quality of the work done and recognised for the efforts and abilities that they show. It’s only the poor performers who think that extra pay will produce actual motivation. Actually, I believe the extra pay only attempts to make up for the poor opportunities or the boring work they have to continually carry out. It mutes the pain for a while, until the effect wears off and the money loses its meaning.

So our second myth is “Employees are Motivated by Salary Increases”

If you have increased salaries recently and expected an improvement in performance or productivity and it didn’t materialise, Hertzberg explains why.

Increased pay will never deal with intrinsic motivation. Recognising what specifically motivates people working for you, and tapping into their motivational instincts, are the only ways that you are going to get to the real essence of what makes people turn themselves on at work.

Thanks again



Sean McPheat

Managing Director

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Are You Making These Motivation Mistakes?

Managers know that they need to keep their employees’ motivation high, or else there may be performance problems. But many people ask me how they can motivate the de-motivated. And they also ask why there is still poor motivation even though they have tried all the motivation theories taught out there.

There are, however, challenges when it comes to motivating others, and many managers make common mistakes when they try to motivate. Are you making some of these motivation mistakes?

1) Thinking that everyone is motivated by the same things that motivate you. You may be driven by achieving targets, hitting objectives or attaining goals, but these are company goals and many people, when you ask them, deep down care for many other things before they think of the company.

2) Thinking that offering money as an incentive should motivate people. Extra money may be a motivator in the short term, but most team members will view it as a reward for work already completed, rather than an incentive for future performance.

3) Thinking that everyone should be motivated by the same thing. You may offer a reward for the whole team for achieving a performance goal. Then you may be puzzled because some really go for it and some don’t. The truth is that motivation is individual, and a team goal may be good for some, while others feel they they need something else to drive them forward

4) Thinking that external motivators should work all the time. Actually, it’s the internal drivers (or intrinsic motivators) that persuade someone to carry out a task. External motivators (e.g. money, responsibility, recognition, status, better company car, promotion) may work for some, for some time, but it’s the internal motivators (e.g. pride in the job, achievement, growth) that really drive a person to do something because they really want to.

Motivation has to be dealt with on a personal basis, and no two people will have the same drive for motivation, simply because no two people have the same conditioning, responsibilities, resources, needs, desires, background or life circumstances outside of work. Keep you eyes open for what motivates a team member and then supply more of it, if you can.

Thanks again


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

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