What motivates you doesn’t need to work for your employees

Have you ever tried to motivate your team and found that none of your team members light up after hearing about your offer?

This situation has happened to me and my colleagues when our boss texted us that, let’s start to have employee award from next year to recognize those who contribute the most. After three of us got that message from our boss, we looked at each other and even got more demotivated due to this unnecessary competitive environment our boss is planning to create. Our start-up doesn’t need more competition, but rather collaboration. Prize and award may motivate our boss, but they do not work for anyone on the team.

What motivates you doesn’t need to work for your employees.
This mistaken assumption leads to limited motivation strategy.


Below are some motivation theories that you can consider applying it to motivate your team.

Content Theory

  • Maslow Hierarchy of Needs
    • what’s the employee’s lowest level of unsatisfied need?
  • Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory
    • motivate through meaningful work or pleasant working condition
  • McClelland’s Acquired Needs

Process Theories of Motivation – How do employees think about work?

  • Equity Theory
    • Are employees treated fairly as compared to professional equals?
  • Expectancy Theory
    • Do employees expect their efforts to pay off in desirable work-related outcomes?
  • Enforcement Theories of Motivation
    • Are managers aware of the precise consequences for employee behavior?
    • Are desirable behaviors systematically rewarded and undesirable behaviors ignored or punished?


To influence employees’ behavior, you have to understand the set of their needs. And good bosses are cautious with those who have different motives from yours.


Photo credit: by Margarida CSilva on Unsplash

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