Motivation is the fuel of an organisation. You can have the flashiest, most expensive car, but without petrol (or electricity) it’s not going anywhere.

The same is true of staff. A genius without motivation achieves nothing.

One of the biggest questions for any business is: “how do you increase and sustain motivation?”. If only it was as easy as filling up a car.

It’s worth pointing out that financial reward does make a difference. People being underpaid show very low levels of motivation. The impact of financial reward decreases, however, as employees reach their internal measure of fair pay.

And, equally ineffective as a motivator, is fear. Employees that are just trying to not get in trouble with supervisors will never take any kind of risk that draws attention to themselves.

Creative brainstorming. Happy young business people, designers, architects working as a team in office

Having money and fear as the only reasons to work creates low efficiency workers. As they say in the movie Office Space “that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.”

And there are some jobs that is all you need. Managers have to be realistic that not every role requires a highly motivated person. However, if you want to have a high performing business with efficient and engaged staff, you need to offer more than just a carrot and a stick.

So, how should you increase motivation in your employees?

In my opinion, that’s the wrong question. In her TEDx talk called “Stop Trying to Motivate Your Employees” consultant Kerry Goyette posits that humans are naturally motivated by feelings. We don’t need to increase motivation, we need to learn how to harness it.

Now you’re asking yourself, “so how do I harness my employees’ motivation?” The answer starts to become clearer when you know your employees and why they work for you. That’s the key.

And again – it’s not just money. Because they can get paid elsewhere.

Why did they choose you?

Creative brainstorming. Happy young business people, designers, architects working as a team in office

When you understand the ‘why’ of your employee and how it aligns with why your company exists, you’ll find ways to harness their motivation. Their enjoyment and security of their role will increase, and with that, the quality and efficiency will increase.

You can’t treat every employee as the same. There isn’t one type of fuel that will make all employees run. You need to tailor the approach to the employee to get the most from your staff.

And if you get really lucky, you might find an employee that gives you their motivation entirely of their own. True self-motivators are rare and worth their weight in gold; they are Unicorn Employees. But you can’t expect that from everyone you employ.

The key to having highly efficient staff is harnessing their motivation. The key to harnessing their motivation is knowing them individually and seeking to build goals for them which are of mutual benefit.

What will you do next to harness your employees’ motivation?

This article was originally published on one of the BlueSky group’s brands, Recruit Complete, by CEO Daniel Glynn.

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