Making Sure Employees are Motivated

July 6, 2017

By Eduardo Landeros

Eduardo Landeros

In any business, it is crucial that all your employees are on the same page and feel motivated about the mission of the company. It’s not an exact science, but employees in general respond positively to four different motivating factors: money, power, status, and recognition.

Every motivating factor is different and every individual reacts differently to every factor. Some employees may feel more motivated by receiving a cash bonus than a plaque for employee of the month, and vice versa.

Employees who are motivated by money, are usually individuals who look for high paying jobs. Some even go to college and pick the highest paying professions such as being a lawyer, doctor, or engineer rather than choosing something they like to do. But their motivating factor is money, so they’re willing to sacrifice a couple of years in school to get the monetary reward in the long run.

Another good example of someone who is motivated by money is a sales professional. I’ve met individuals who sell new cars for a living and make a six-figure income. Their hours are not the greatest though; they work weekends, evenings, holidays etc. but some make good money and are willing to make many sacrifices. In some cases, many sales professionals have the opportunity to become supervisors or managers, but they choose not to because they pay is the same or even less than what they are making now as a sales person and it doesn’t motivate them.
On the side of the coin, employees who are motivated by power do enjoy management positions and other professions where power might be the motivating factor. I do not want to imply that all managers like power, but some do like the power and that is the primary motivating factor. Many individuals whose motivating factor is power like professions involved with the police, government, and politics.

Another motivating factor is status. People who like status look for positions where they could be perceived as having a higher status within their community. Examples might be working in finance, professional firms, the medical Industry and even having their own business. They like to have expensive cars, expensive clothing, show the world that they are successful. As a banker in my career, I learned that a lot of people that fall in this category really do not have a lot of money, they just want to live the lifestyle and have that status.

Recognition is the last motivating factor but one of the most important ones for business owners. Many times business owners, because they are so busy running their own business, forget to recognize their employees and this could really affect their morale. Sometimes employees just need to know that they are doing a good job and get recognized among their peers. You don’t have to give them an employee of the month or year plaque, a simple pat on the back or a compliment is good enough sometimes. Many individuals choose professions where they get the recognition on a daily basis like teachers, firemen, and those working with non-profits.

It is important to offer “a little bit of everything” in your company and be able to identify what motivates your key employees. Most of us are motivated by all factors, but tend to lean towards one over the others. You can combine and get creative.

If you have an employee that likes money offering bonuses, the flexibility to have second jobs, expense reimbursements is going to be important to them. If you have an employee that likes power or status, you can promote them with management responsibilities. If recognition is important, create an employee of the month award, take them out to lunch, spend time listening to their ideas, or let them know they are doing a good job. The goal is have a good productive workforce and create a healthy and happy environment so employees can be more productive and help you grow.

EDITORS NOTE: Eduardo Landeros, MBA, is a senior business advisor for CDC Small Business Finance, a non-profit focused on small business lending and growth. Landeros is not an employee of La Prensa San Diego.

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