How Do I Motivate My Employees?

It is a challenge that every organization leader faces. How do I motivate my employees?


My answer may surprise you. I could give you 1000 ways to motivate your employees, and some of them would probably work. But I have a more fundamental question. If you choose to provide motivation for employees to perform, what happens when the motivation is removed? Logically, they slow down and stop. This means that a motivation model of productivity requires you to continually provide an endless supply of carrots and sticks. I frankly don’t like the model.


A better solution to employee motivation is communication and moving to inspiration. Ask your team members individually what drives them to work harder, perform better, and pursue excellence. You as the leader want to discover what inspires your team members to perform. This becomes a key to creating an organization that attracts and retains self-motivated people.


It likely sounds idealistic. I am challenging you to demand more from yourself in terms of recruitment, leadership, and communication to address this challenge. Getting the right people on the bus in the right seats (a concept from Jim Collins in Good to Great) doesn’t happen by using threats and bribes. This new model starts by determining if your current employees are even really on the team. Just because a person shows up and receives a paycheck doesn’t mean they are on the team. Winning team members participate 100%. It is your responsibility to set a high bar and coach your team to achieve it.


A low performing team member negatively affects others. If you tolerate a culture that permits mediocre members to stay, then your best performers will likely look for a better team. Low performers are often best served by you helping them find another job that matches their drive, talents, and abilities.


Having the right people doing the right things is the key to a top performing organization. It is your responsibility as the manager/owner to make this happen. Tolerating low performance and mediocrity is unacceptable if excellence is your goal. I have lost count of the number of times business owners have dismissed an underperforming employee and said that it was long overdue and has made such an significant difference in team performance.


What do you really want for your organization, and what are you willing to do to make it happen? It is challenging to make it happen, but there is a great joy and satisfaction in leading a happy, high performing team.

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