The Top 5 High Performance Employee Motivation Techniques

These employee motivation techniques are the key to boosting team and business performance.

Have you read Part One of this article on motivation in the workplace?

The last thing you want is to have people working with you who have died on the job. Often people stay in jobs because they like the company, their workmates, the pay or it is close to home, but they stopped being engaged by the work that they do years ago.

So what to do?

As the leader, it is your responsibility to provide the environment that enables your team members to feel challenged and engaged by their work. So let's take a look at 5 things you can do to ensure people feel inspired at work.

1. Provide Meaningful and Challenging Work

When people feel that the work they are doing is meaningful - makes a difference in some way - and provides them with challenges that stretch them (but also mesh with their ability to achieve them) they become internally motivated. In other words, they don't need anyone standing around coercing them into higher levels of performance.

Regardless of the actual work that is being done, people generally want to feel a sense of:

  • Achievement
  • Responsibility
  • Enjoyment
  • Recognition

Even the most mundane of work can be motivating if the leader helps the team member put into context the value their work brings either to the consumer or to the organization.

Work that many see as demanding - for example being a doctor or an air-pilot may well become rote and uninspiring if the individual, is not regularly given the opportunity to extend him/herself. Similarly, work that for many may be seen as rote and uninspiring, for example, a cleaner or a supermarket cashier can become challenging by incorporating other activities, that are meaningful to that person, into their daily work.

In other words, when you increase the scope of work to be done, to the level of the individual's capability, then people generally become more engaged and energized.

A great leader can help inspire and motivate people by getting them to see beyond the immediacy of what they are doing to the bigger picture. This story illustrates a great example of how hospital ward orderly can create meaning in their job.

Providing challenging work is also intrinsically motivating for people - the vast majority of people want to feel that their potential is being regularly challenged. When the team leader provides the team member with the environment that enables, for example, learning new techniques or taking on additional tasks this can engage them more fully.

You don't have to coerce people who feel

Challenged and Inspired

by what they do

Do you know how to challenge and inspire your people? If not, consider contacting me for coaching on how to do this. 

Work with the individuals in your team to find out what additional task/duties they would like to incorporate into their job to make it more stimulating.

2. Set Clear Targets and Expectations and Measure Performance

Imagine you were bowling and no-one told you the aim of the game and each time you bowled the ball as it got halfway down the alley a curtain came down so you couldn't see how many pins you had knocked over.

How long do you think you'd remain interested, excited, engaged by the game? If you are like most people not too long!

It's the same in organizational life.

People can be all fired up and ready to give of their best, but if they don't know what is excellent performance, or don't know when they've performed excellently, or don't know what the aim of the game is ... you can pretty well shut the gate on motivation.

Spelling out specific targets, goals, and expectations for behavior and performance need not be anything complicated ... it just needs to be done and people need to get regular and timely feedback on how they are performing against those goals.

3. Give Regular, Direct, Supportive Feedback

Feedback - both positive and performance improving - is vital to continuous improvement and done well it motivates and inspires people to continually move toward using more of their potential.

Feedback needs to be timely, specific and presented in such a way that the individual is clear about what behaviors or skills they need to modify (or continue using) to improve performance. If providing performance-enhancing feedback isn't a strength for you, then access the training "Successful Feedback"

4. Design People's Roles so They Can Use Their Strengths

Assigning people to specific tasks and duties that play to their strengths is one of the best employee motivation techniques. Research has shown, more than anything, people who can make use of their strengths regularly while at work are more likely to work in teams that perform at higher levels.

When people are playing to their strengths on a regular basis - they feel effective, focused and fulfilled ... a win for them and for their organization. The person becomes more internally motivated ... feeling upbeat and enthused by what they are doing ... and will feel inspired to continue more. Read more about strengths in the workplace.

5. Enable Input and Choice In How Work Gets Done

95% of people (regardless of their walk of life) want to do a good job, feel pride in what they do, have good relationships with their co-workers and feel they are contributing in a meaningful way. In other words, they are set up by their own internal nature to be a high performer.

Unfortunately in many organizations managers turn the majority of their focus toward the 5% of people who are allergic to work and then instigate rules, polices and practices (such as close supervision) to control this 5%. As you can imagine all that does is demean, annoy and demotivate the 95% who are motivated to do their best. You are wasting the talent and natural motivation that the overwhelming majority of people bring to the workplace.

Provide people with a forum where they can provide their input into how work is performed. Giving people control over how they perform the work is intensely motivating.

Need More Convincing?

This video provides a back up to the content on this page, and touches on the research I mention in the ebook "How To Motivate Employees." (this product is currently undergoing a rewrite and will be available soon)

Related Articles


Came across another interesting employee motivation article specifically aimed at Real Estate Agents, but lots of great tips for all leaders ... particularly Tip 4!

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