14 Easy Steps To Motivate Staff [2019 Edition]

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*Updated for 2019*

Wondering how to motivate staff? All the recent yo-yoing between the sluggish heat and dreary rain has shrunk our motivation gland. Spending time deciding whether to pack an umbrella or sunscreen before leaving the house is enough to make anyone want to stay inside! But never fear, Quiz Coconut is here! We have put together a thorough guide detailing what is motivation, myths and finally, how to motivate staff. All aboard the motivation station, alight here for useful insight!

The Psychology of Motivation

If you want to motivate staff, you need to first ask ‘what is motivation’? Simply, it can be surmised as why someone does something, or as Shia LaBeouf eloquently said (more like bellowed) to ‘just do it’. There are many forces at play to trigger motivation that range from biological, emotional, social and cognitive. All-in-all, motivation can be boiled down to three components: activation, persistence, and intensity. Activation is the decision to initiate a behaviour, persistence is the continued effort toward a goal despite obstacles and intensity is the oompf that goes into pursuing a goal.

Motivate Staff Attributes

There are three main theories for motivation:

Instinct theory: It’s in the name!  This entails our instincts impact on our behaviour. For instance, how our instincts drive us to eat that last slice of cake, to have another cup of coffee even though you know it will make you jittery or to join a free dating site to find love.

Drives and Needs: Back-to-basics with the building blocks of life, biology. Urges to eat, drink sleep and…well, other things, are driven by a need to be fulfilled.

Arousal Level: Woo woo! What tickles your fancy? People are motivated to engage in behaviours that help them maintain their optimal level of arousal, such as thrill-seekers needing a buzz so hop on a roller coaster.

5 Myths About Motivation Motivate Staff myth

With a plethora of information highways such as the internet and word-of-mouth, it is a guarantee that somewhere there would be some form of miss-information. Motivation is something that we often think of as an entity that we can summon by throwing money and willpower in the air, but it seems this is not always the case. Here are 5 myths about motivation you may still believe! or even be using to motivate staff.

1. Money Money Money 

Motivate Staff Money

All the things I could do if I had a little money! Even though dosh is a great way to pique interest, if you place too much weight on financial gain you may overlook other factors that might play a greater role in motivation and happiness. If you have a job with a whopping salary, but involves a miserable commute and long hours sucking all your free time like a vampire sponge, you’ll start to feel the motivation drain. Research has even suggested that people who are primarily motivated by financial concerns a tend to suffer from worse mental health.

2. Greater Rewards = Greater Performance

Motivate Staff RewardsRoll up, roll up! A giant stuffed bear for the winner of the strongest man competition. Sadly, huge rewards for behaviour  can often decrease motivation in what is called the over justification effect.  This is where you reward someone for something they were originally intrinsically motivated to do and now feel their motivation was driven by the reward. Bottom line is, if you want to motivate staff, this is method may not work. That being said, rewards can inspire action when a person really does need some sort of incentive to engage in a task.  But be warned, use rewards sparingly!

3. Fear Me! 

Motivate Staff Fear

Feeling the heat under your collar is like jumping into a hot bath: it can work for a while, but you’ll eventually cool-off. Studies have shown that reinforcements are always a more effective way to boost motivation. Therefore, make sure to focus on rewards for good performance rather than cracking the whip. It is also important to remember people react differently to pressure, so by acting like the bogeyman you may be decreasing your staff’s motivation by turning them into a pile of anxious soup. Needless to say, soup is neither productive or sentient and therefore, of no use to you in the workplace.

4. Willpower Is All It Takes

Motivate Staff willpowerI got the power! Yes, it definitely helps, but willpower isn’t a mystical force you can summon out of thin air. It’s tied in with many factors such as incentives to reach a goal or the magnitude of the obstacles in your path. Plan ahead for obstacles and incentives that will in turn help to motivate staff.

5. Just Think Positive

Motivate Staff thinking

A few years ago now, I went to a great talk with Jamie Edwards, a peak performance coach who told me that positive thinking is a myth. He asked me to imagine a basketball player, who is about to score a potential winning shot. There is still a chance they can miss the shot even if they say over and over and over ‘I can make this shot’. Instead, think ‘possible’ and say it is possible to get the ball in the hoop. This allows you to clear your mind and focus on the steps needed to achieve this goal. Motivation is simply a by-product of a clear mind.

14 Ways to Motivate Staff

What gets you going? No two people are the same, so you’ll need many tricks up your sleeve to motivate staff. It helps to mix things up a bit, to try out different tools and see what works with who and when. Below we’ve put together a list of our top 14 picks of ways to motivate staff.

1. Catch Them Doing Right

Motivate Staff

See it, praise it, sorted! Recognise regularly the efforts, progress and quality work in written or verbal form. Appreciation is a feel-good drug that people will want to dose up on as much as they can, so a simple piece of praise is sure to motivate staff. Make sure the praise is specific, not an empty compliment for the sake of it!

2. Set a Good Example 

Motivate Staff

Reflect the attributes and priorities you wish to see yourself – become the change you wish to see! If you’re on the praise train and communicating with your staff, chances are these qualities will spread like wildfire. Remember that your attitude matters more than everyone else’s, as everyone is looking at you, watching to see how you act so they can determine how they should act!

3. Trust

Motivate Staff

According to the children’s classic Peter Pan, all you need is faith, trust and pixie dust. If you’re fresh out of pixie dust, then a sprinkle of trust is sure to make your colleagues fly towards their targets. Let them know you trust them and as a result they’ll rise to the mark as they’ll feel competent and confident.

4. Set Small Weekly Goals

Motivate Staff

We all remember being told that small and steady wins the race, and it does. Rather than harking on about the bigger picture, motivate staff by breaking things down into small goals that you can track and praise. Instead of looking at turning x amount of profit in a year, how about 100 new customers this week?  People will feel as if they are achieving which will rev up their motivation rather than floundering about to reach a far-off target. Make sure the team are rewarded for achieving the realistic goal you set!

5. Who are You?

Motivate Staff

Take the time to find out what makes each person tick. Everyone is different, with different characteristics, preferences and therefore, are motivated by different things. Make sure to ask them what they like to work on verses what they don’t, what are their goals?  take time to invest in their professional growth.

6. Reward Based on Feedback 

Motivate Staff

Not only does rewarding staff make them feel good, it encourages them to keep doing the good stuff! If an employee has received good feedback, them know that you know and give them the kudos that they deserve. Try to keep track of who gets the most positive feedback and maybe tie this in with an incentive. For instance, if someone is praised by a client or customer, give them a token, if they receive 5 they are eligible to take part in a lucky dip!

7. Strike Balance

Motivate Staff

All work and no play makes everyone dull. It is important to make sure that people have enough downtime to replenish all those creative juices.  An environment that is invested in the work-life balance is proven to have an increased productivity and overall happiness in the workplace.

8. Be Transparent

Motivate Staff

Let those around you know the 411, how is the business going? what’s going on in the ins-and-outs of the business? Letting people into this all-knowing circle makes others feel like they’re an important part of the business while also drawing attention to areas of improvement.

9. Food Glorious Food

Motivate Staff

Yep, we said it! food most certainly relates back to the drives and needs theory of motivation, because after all, we all have to eat! A survey by Seamless found that ‘57% of employees say food-based perks would make them feel more valued and appreciated’ and 38% said ‘food perks would make them more likely to endorse their employer in a “best places to work for” survey, so not only will decent snacks help you keep your employees, it can also help you attract great new talent’. This is proof that the quickest way to your employees’ hearts is through their stomach!

10. Autonomy

Motivate Staff

Resist the urge to micromanage! People will feel as if you don’t trust them and therefore probably not bother. Let them feel in control of their time and energy and trust they will ask for help when needed, instead of hovering about like a fly on the wall. Consequently, it will send the message that you’re there to help and not to force feed them your agenda. In the long run, this builds more self-sufficient teams because they create their own process that works best or them.

11. Create an Inspiring Work Environment

As the rainy days and cold winters show us, motivation and mood go together. According to a 2011 study from Ohio State University and the National Institute of Mental Health, your work environment seriously impacts your mood. ‘Workers in older buildings with low ceilings and loud air conditioners were more stressed than those in newer buildings with things like more natural light and open layouts.’ The solution: invest to make a work environment where people want to spend their time!

12. Offer a Clear Path for Advancement

Motivate Staff

Like a pigeon flying into a window, feeling like you have nowhere to go hits hard. Try to commit to a growth plan for each of your employees as your business is dependent on the success of individuals. Meet monthly to discuss professional goals and review their current skill-set and how to ‘level up’.

13. Self-Praise

Motivate Staff

In the famous words of Rupaul: if you can’t love yourself how the hell are you going to love somebody else? People tend to gravitate towards those who radiate positive vibes, kind of like soaking up sunshine. Emotions are often infectious: if someone yells angrily at you in their car and honks in the street, chances are you’re going to be feeling miffed. Same works for happiness, it can reinforce feelings of fulfilment in others. This also relates back to setting an example, so make sure you give yourself praise! Reflect on your work from the previous day and recall a small success.  You will start your day on a positive note and your team will share your sense of achievement and confidence with the team. Can I get an Amen up in here?!

14. Celebrate Wins

Motivate Staff

Finally, celebrate good times! It’s all good dolling out the praise, but actions speak louder than words, so take the time to celebrate! It doesn’t need to be a fancy expensive shindig with catering, venue hires, streamers, banners, trips to Mars…a simple team lunch or breakfast social is enough of a pat-on-the-back. It will motivate the team to keep reaching goals as well as aid in team bonding. Also, motivation will be in plentiful supply after a feel-good session of celebration!

There you have it, our guide on how to motivate staff! Overall, achieving a goal requires the ability to persist through obstacles and endurance to keep going despite difficulties. Armed with a multitude of tools (that you hopefully picked up here) you can be sure to find what works best for you and your team. What do you think of our top motivation tips and tricks? Are there any you want us to add or feel we have missed? Get in touch and let us know!

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