One of the most useful discussions we have in our management programmes is based around a checklist The 7 Areas Of Motivational Influence.

Too often managers think about motivation only in terms of incentives, i.e. things that we can do to motivate staff. However often the elimination of disincentives (i.e. unfair treatment / injustices) is just as powerful a means
of driving motivation.

Furthermore, the more we learn about motivation and engagement (from people like Dan Pink in his book Drive that the factors affecting the levels of commitment that an individual commits to a given task or goals are many and complex.

Ask managers to build a detailed picture of all the areas that influence motivation by discussing each of the seven areas in turn. Encourage groups to look for marginal gains (small things that they can do or stop doing
which when combined create an environment in which people can motivate themselves).

Our preferred method is to put 7 flipchart sheets up around the training room and then get the group to move around each one adding comments on post it notes until they have built their own picture of what drives motivation in their workplace and have generated ideas to enhance levels of motivation.

If you want a full trainer briefing for this exercise please email me via our contacts page at

7 Areas of Motivational Influence
1. Leadership
2. Remuneration
3. Direct Incentives
4. Job Satisfaction
5. Values
6. Security
7. Status

Leadership matters when it comes to motivating staff. People need a clear idea of what is expected of them, they need to know why doing their job to the best of their ability matters to the wider team. People need to know that they will be supported and developed, they need to know that they will be trusted to get on with the job and that their efforts are appreciated. They need to know that they are working for a good company and for people who will make the right decisions for the long term good of all the company. Everything you do to invest in the quality of Leadership will provide returns in the form of increased motivation.

Remuneration and its effects on motivation is a vast and complex subject. However, there are four major principles to bear in mind.

It is not how much you pay a person that really matters but how they perceive their remuneration package. If a package is perceived as fair (in the context of colleagues and the marketplace), if it is enough for them to live without the constant worry of money matters) and they believe that it is within their control (i.e. there is a clear link between what they achieve and what they can earn) then people will not be de-motivated by their remuneration package. Remuneration is largely a hygiene factor, if it is perceived as unsatisfactory then the de-motivational effect is significant. If however people are broadly satisfied with their remuneration then it tends to be other factors that affect how motivated they are with their work.

Incentives and Rewards
Incentives are the non-cash prizes that are offered to staff if they achieve a particular standard of performance. They are most often found in Sales Environments (top performer prize schemes) but also in production departments (for example staff on the production floor at a factory may get incentives for quality, finishing jobs ahead of schedule and for safe practice). Incentives work because they signal and encourage staff as to the important behaviours and KPI’s that will ensure success. Incentives work best in departments where there are clear and measurable results are best used for:

Short-term motivation

  • Introducing elements of fun/competition to the team
  • Rewarding those behaviours that will lead to better results
  • Building confidence
  • Rewarding effort and initiative

Rewards are the non-cash awards that are made after staff have achieved an exceptional performance or put in an exceptional effort. Rewards can come in many forms from a box of chocolates to a holiday. They can also be non-tangible benefits such as “time off” offered to teams who meet their targets early.

Rewards work best for

  • Identifying exceptional work effort and creating a bench mark for others
  • Departments where staff all do different jobs
  • Departments where the quality of work is more important than the quantity

In either case Incentives and Rewards work best when;

  • All staff feel engaged in the process
  • They focus on behaviours and KPI’s rather than results. (if you need to reward results create a bonus scheme)
  • They are designed to be achievable (incentives) and awarded fairly (rewards)
  • They are designed to be fun and engaging
  • They are appropriate for the target group
  • They reward effort and behaviour over and above the job requirement

Job Satisfaction
How satisfied we feel at work depends upon many factors and those factors vary between individuals (see career drivers). However there are some key elements that always get mentioned in surveys where people report high levels of job satisfaction.

Need for Goals and Results. People need to know that they are purposefully moving on. People are objective orientated animals i.e. they work most efficiently when they have a clear idea of what they wish to do, and they have a feedback loop that tells them how well they are doing in relation to the goal.

For a goal system to be effective it must be comple mented by the continuous
relaying of results.

Training. Training does much more than improving selling skills. If people feel they are improving have a training plan set out for them, they will keep working and stay loyal.

Recognition. Every human being likes to feel that they have done well and are appreciated. “Catch people doing things right.”

Progression. Some people are ambitious. Help them achieve promotion, show them exactly what they have to do and provide them with regular appraisal.

The degree to which our work is aligned with our values has a direct impact upon the level of commitment and energy we give to it.

When we talk about Values we simply mean the things which we hold to be of value in our lives, these things may be;

  • Family life
  • Spiritual values
  • Creativity
  • Our rules and standards for dealing with others
  • The way we like to be treated by others
  • Our personal sense of reward
  • Our beliefs about ethics (what is right and what is wrong)
  • Our drivers See Career Drivers Survey in appendices

Security (a desire to know how things will be in the future) is a very common and powerful, although seldom- admitted motive. Our sense of security plays a significant role in our levels of motivation.

Managers must be able to strike a balance between:
a) A company that is too secure, which may stagnate
b) Lack of security means high turnover of staff and lack of purposeful activity.

Some Factors which positively affect our sense of security are

Standards. We all have a need for clear performance standards – people need to know where they stand. Worry about their positions is destructive – a major disincentive.

Belonging: Man is gregarious and in a sense, one of the things we look for at work is sociability and the ability to mix. People generally do not like to be isolated, when they do feel isolated they tend to worry more about security issues.

Need for Leadership: (See Above) Staff need direction, goals, a feeling of being supported etc. These are all attributes that
a good leader brings to the team.

People want to feel good about the work that they do and the results that they achieve. We all want to be considered significant and important. De-motivation creeps in when we begin to feel that what we do doesn’t matter to the team or the organisation as a whole.

Make sure they know how important they are to the company, but also make sure they are well served i.e. good back up, clear printed business cards etc.
Make people feel that the job they have is an important one and the products they produce are ones they should be proud of.