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Effective Motivation: The Key to Business Success

By Nadia E.M. Skeete, Economist, The Productivity Council

It can be said that all people are motivated! However, they just may not be motivated to do what you
want them to do. That, of course, is when the difficulty arises. But what exactly is motivation?
Motivation can be defined as the process that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviours.
It is what causes us to act. Motivation also involves the biological, emotional, social and cognitive forces
that activate behaviour. In everyday use, motivation simply describes why a person actually does
There are three major components of motivation: activation, persistence and intensity. Activation is
the decision to initiate a particular behaviour, persistence is the continued effort towards a goal even
though obstacles may exist; and intensity can be seen in the concentration and vigour that goes into
pursuing a goal.
However, to totally comprehend motivation, one must look at three other factors: pre-motivators, demotivators and motivators. Pre-motivators can be described as certain conditions that must be met
before persons are actually motivated. For example, I could never work for the ABC Company this can
be said definitely because basic pre-motivators are missing. Pre-motivators may convince persons to
actually show-up at the workplace, but it is separate motivational factors that get people to work while
they are there.
Pre-motivators and motivators change from person to person and situation to situation. Motivators
tend to be either intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic motivators arise from within the individual. They are
inherent in the work itself people generally and genuinely enjoy the work itself. Intrinsic rewards are
psychological rewards that employees get from doing meaningful work and performing well. According
to the American Management Association (AMA), common intrinsic rewards are autonomy on the job,
believing that ones work makes a difference, responsibility for complete units of work, feeling like an
expert and actually liking ones work.
Extrinsic motivators are those that arise from outside of the individual these are not inherent in the
work itself and other people control their size and whether or not they are granted. These rewards are
usually tangible; the AMA lists the following as common extrinsic rewards: cash bonuses/merit pay
increases, promotions, desirable travel in return for good work, nice office and prestige and titles.
Motivation can be considered important to both the individual and the business because:
(1) it can help an employee achieve both personal and professional goals;
(2) if an individual is motivated, he/she will have some level of job satisfaction;
(3) it helps with regards to the persons self-development.
(4) the more motivated the employees are, the more empowered the team is;
(5) the greater the contribution made by either the individual and team, then the business would be
more profitable and successful; and
(6) motivation could lead to an optimistic and challenging attitude at the work place.
Employees are essentially the building blocks of an organisation. Organisational success depends on the
collective efforts of the employees, and if employees are motivated then they will collectively contribute

to organisational growth. With all this in mind, there are a few tips that can be used, as a manager, to
motivate employees:
(1) Evaluate yourself as a manager you should adopt the approach Youre Ok, Im Ok. In order
to motivate and encourage staffs behaviour, it is essential that you understand, encourage and
even control your own behaviour as a manager.
(2) Know your staff members a cordial superior-subordinate relationship is a key factor, in job
(3) Provide employees with certain benefits bonus, overtime, etc.
(4) Provide feedback to staff constantly staff members are always keen to know how they are
performing but, it must be based on facts and personal observations, not assumptions.
(5) Acknowledge the achievements of your staff a pat on the back, words of praise on personal and
public levels can motivate the staff a great deal. Acknowledge all positive contributions of staff!
(6) Have stress management techniques offer training sessions on stress management coupled with
group meetings on how stress can be lowered. Another way is to give the staff autonomy with
respect to their work.
(7) Give employees learning opportunities employees should be constantly learning new skills on
the job.
(8) Set a good example for your team/staff be a role model for your staff.
(9) Listen effectively listening attentively is a form of recognising and appreciating the person who is
talking. Effective listening by the manager boosts the employees morale and thus motivates
(10) Ensure effective communication avoid using expressions of anger, instead use questioning
techniques to understand staffs mind-set. Rather than ordering staff what to do, use a relaxed
and steady tone and listen effectively. Remember to share your views with the staff.
(11) Develop and encourage creativity this can be used to help solve organisational problems.
Encourage ideas and suggestions from the staff.
(12) Dont be rigid and flexible allow for flexi-hours if possible. Accept ideas from the staff readily,
even suggestions with respect to changes they would like to bring about if afforded the
(13) Adopt job enrichment involve employees in the decision-making process, show them loyalty and
celebrate their achievements. This may mean facilitating the process for people to achieve selfdevelopment and success through a more challenging job which provides more promotional and
upward mobility opportunities.
(14) Respect your team respect not only the employees rights, but their time too. This will ensure
that the employees respect you and your time. The staff should feel respected not just as
employees, but as individuals as well.
The aforementioned tips can be quite useful for both superiors and subordinates. However, both
parties must always remember that:
(1) certain factors need to be present for motivation to occur;
(2) although persons are motivated by rewards, different people find different things rewarding in
different situations.
(3) sometimes doing the work itself is rewarding (intrinsic); sometimes other rewards are desired
(4) allow employee participation when people have the expertise;
(5) link rewards to performance; and
(6) understand the importance to many people of non-monetary rewards such as autonomy, good
relations and recognition.