6 Sources of Motivation

When we talk about motivation and what we need to do to motivate our teams it’s worthwhile remembering the question what’s in it for me?

I know this might sounds like an oversimplification, but the reality is if you can tell people how they will benefit from doing something, or achieving something, and they actually see that as a benefit to them, then there is a good chance you will increase their motivation.

If you can’t do that then why should people even engage let alone be motivated?

I know that many people believe that paying people a salary should be enough to engage and motivate people, and whilst that’s a great idea and almost sounds reasonable the research by groups like Gallup shows that just not the case. According to Gallup the best ever employee engagement figures was 38% which still means that 62% are disengaged and if they are disengaged then they are definitely not motivated either.

Having led large teams to achieve some amazing results, including 50-500% performance improvements, I wanted to share 5 things that I focuson when looking to create engaged and motivated teams.


A good way to get people motivated is to share some of the opportunities that can become available upon successful completion of the current initiative, and this is especially key if your driving organizational change. At one client, where we were pushing maintenance work offshore, we let the teams know the reason we’re doing this wasn’t just a cost-saving move, but because we wanted to free up their time so they could focus on delivering some of the exciting projects that we wanted to do.


Showing how the work can develop their skills, help them grow and advance in their careers is always going to get the interest of our teams. The desire to grow, and then be open to bigger and better opportunities, ones that may lead to promotions or pay increases is one that we all share.


One of the phrases I repeat more often than any other is that people are not afraid of hard work they are afraid of failure. If people cannot see a path to success then they are not going to be motivated plain and simple. As leaders our number one job is to set our teams for success, making sure that they can see how to be successful and have the tools and resources needed to be successful. In my experience, if you give people the opportunity to be successful they will grab it with both hands and succeed. Everybody wants to be part of a winning team, it feeds into our basic need to feel a sense of achievement.

Sense of Achievement

The feeling of achieving something worthwhile, something special is always going to have a positive impact on people as contributing towards it. It’s not just about success it’s more about what you achieve, it could be a record result, it could that you will be the first do something, or it could be something that contributes to a better world and helping people.

If we can help people understand the wider benefits of what we are trying to achieve it can help give them a sense of purpose and the stronger the purpose the more motivated they will be.


I’ve probably written more articles on recognition than any other leadership topic, and I think it is one of the most powerful tools in a leader’s armory. Everyone wants to feel valued, to feel that they are being seen and that they are contributing and when we recognize them we feed that need. Sharing the success, calling out their part in it are just as important as giving individual feedback.

Recognition starts with effort because when we recognize the effort we are showing our teams that they are on the right track and it encourages them to continue, as another favourite saying of mine is what gets recognized gets repeated. The great thing about recognition is that it costs nothing yet the returns can be amazing.


Yep, rewards are always welcome whether it’s a bonus payment or a share of the result these can go a long way to helping motivate the teams. But you need to make sure the bonus is reflective of the results or it can have the opposite effect.

Rewards don’t always need to be monetary, I remember one company I worked where money was tight and there was no chance of cash bonuses, but what we could do was give people time off in lieu, and to some that was worth more much than a $100 payout.


When it comes to motiving our teams there are many different ways we can go and tools that we can use. You don’t need to use them all at the same time, you need to work out which ones are available to you or the ones that will work best in a particular situation. The more you can understand and master the art of motivation, the better the results your teams will be able to achieve.