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How to motivate your employees

In order to motivate someone, you must have an understanding of the driving factors behind that person’s existing behaviour, and organizational systems in place which will foster employee motivation.

Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs states that human beings need to fulfill certain types of wants and desires in a specific order. From the more basic to the more complex levels, the human needs hierarchy according to Maslow consists of: 1) physiological needs; 2) safety/security needs; 3) love/friendship needs; 4) the need for self-esteem; and 5) the need for self-actualization.

What this means is that because people are at different “levels” within the hierarchy – e.g. some may be motivated by the need for long-term security (safety/security), whereas others may be motivated by the need to accomplish something big and meaningful (self-actualization), there will undoubtedly be different ways to motivate people.

In order to motivate someone, you must have an understanding of the driving factors behind the person’s existing behaviour as well as the proper organizational systems which will foster employee motivation.

What is required of these organizational systems is:

Regular communication with the employee
Having regular discussions with employees will help in assessing what it is that actually motivates them.

Whether the individual has a need to feel safe and secure that they’re doing relevant and purposeful work, or to feel self-actualized in that the work that they’re doing is beneficial and of high importance to the organization, it is important to communicate with the employee regularly, find out what their motivating factors are, and ensure that they are on the right course.

A direct link between the goals of the employee and those of the organization
Related to the previous concept is the alignment of the employee’s goals and objectives with those of the organization. When meeting with the employee to discuss his or her goals and objectives, it is helpful to share with them the importance of their contribution to the organization, and to guide them to choose goals that align nicely with those of the company. This need not be a one-way street however. If the employee’s goals are not immediately linkable to those of the organization, look for ways in which the person’s job activities can be enlarged or enriched.

By supporting the individual in their expanded or enriched role, the employee will be more fulfilled, and the organization will benefit by having a more motivated, high-potential individual within their ranks.

Linking compensation and rewards to the achievement and realization of goals
Compensation and employee reward systems are an important part of the overall motivational systems within an organization. When an employee does an outstanding job, don’t be afraid to reward them for their efforts.

By regularly meeting with employees to assess their individual motivating factors and putting other organizational processes in place, you stand a far greater chance of motivating your people to accomplish goals that are purposeful and relevant to your organization.

It is clear to see then, that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all way to encourage and motivate people but rather a multitude of ways, depending on what the individual needs from the organization.

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