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Definition: The understanding of motivation, how it works, and its effect on job performance, as well as the ability to motivate others.


  • There are different forms of motivation such as incentive, fear, achievement, growth, power, and social that can influence our behavior in its own unique way.

    • Fear and intimidation may be destructive in motivating others in the long run.

    • Effective delegation and coaching are generally constructive in motivating others.

  • Different people can have different motivators so it is vital to identify what motivates each of them. Remember to adapt your approach to motivate each individual.

  • It is important to 1) listen, 2) ask open-ended questions, 3) encourage, 4) ask about what the first step will be, 5) dream,6) ask how you can help, and 7) follow up.

  • Remember that:

    • Motivating employees starts with motivating yourself

    • Always work to align goals of the organization with goals of employees

    • Key to supporting the motivation of your employees is understanding what motivates each of them

    • Recognize that supporting employee motivation is a process, not a task

    • Support employee motivation by using organizational systems (e.g., policies and procedures), don’t just count on good intentions

  • In order to stay motivated, remember to: 1) make a genuine commitment to personal excellence, 2) remind yourself daily of your strong points, and 3) see yourself as unstoppable.

“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                       –Goethe, Writer

Self-Directed Learning Activities

Relevant Readings:



  • Arussy, L. (2008) Excellence every day: Make the daily choice—inspire your employees and amaze your customers. Medford, NJ: CyberAge Books.

  • Covey, S. R. (2014).  The 7 habits of highly effective families.  (PDF)  St. Martin's Press.

  • Jones, P. (2007). Managing for performance: Delivering results through others. NY: Pearson/Prentice Hall Business.

  • Magnuson, D. S., & Alexander, L. S. (2008). Work with me: A new lens on leading the multi-generational workforce. Minneapolis: Personnel Decisions International.


Self-Guided Activities:

  • A great place to start learning about motivation is to start understanding your own motivations. The key to helping to motivate your employees is to understand what motivates them. So what motivates you? Consider, for example, time with family, recognition, a job well done, service, learning, etc. How is your job configured to support your own motivations? What can you do to better motivate yourself? Refer to the Checklist if you need some ideas.

  • It is important to know that the work you’re doing makes a difference in some way. If you’re not seeing this connection, try to dig deep. Map your weekly reports to the increase in your company’s bottom lines. For example, say a key metric your company tracks is acquisition cost. Make a list of the tasks you do that reduce this cost for your company, and find ways to focus on those aspects of your job more often.

  • If you feel that you are doing the same repetitive work every day and this is lowering your motivation level at work, try to structure your days so that you’re working on different tasks. This will allow you to make use of your different skills throughout the day. For example, instead of writing all day on Monday and then building a presentation on Tuesday, try to do both in smaller three-hour chunks each day. When you stimulate different parts of the brain, your motivation will be recharged.

  • Work is motivating when it is clear on what it is you are accomplishing. Think about it: How great does it feel when you know you’ve gotten a launch off the ground or made great progress on big project? On the other hand, nothing is worse than working all day and thinking “What did I even do today?!”  If you’re feeling like you’ve been spinning your wheels, try this: At the end of each day or week, make a “Completed” list (the opposite of to the to-do list!), where you outline all of the tasks you've completed. For extra motivation, keep it somewhere you can see.

Guided Learning Activities


  • Have one-on-one meetings with each employee

    • Employees are often more motivated by your care and concern for them than by your attention to them. Get to know your employees, their families, their favorite foods, names of their children, etc. This can sound manipulative --and it will be if not done sincerely. However, even if you sincerely want to get to know each of your employees, it may not happen unless you intentionally set aside time to be with each of them.

  • Make of list of three to five things that motivate each of your employees

    • Read the checklist of possible motivators. Fill out the list yourself for each of your employees and then have each of your employees fill out the list for themselves. Compare your answers to theirs. Recognize the differences between your impression of what you think is important to them and what they think is important to them. Then meet with each of your employees to discuss what they think are the most important motivational factors to them. Lastly, take some time alone to write down how you will modify your approaches with each employee to ensure their motivational factors are being met. (NOTE: This may seem like a "soft, touchy-feely exercise" to you. If it does, then talk to a peer or your boss about it. Much of what's important in management is based very much on "soft, touchy-feely exercises". Learn to become more comfortable with them. The place to start is to recognize their importance.)

  • One of the most motivating factors you can have is getting feedback on your work. If you don’t know how you’re performing, it’s easy to lose energy and motivation in what you are doing. If you find that you have not received feedback and are in a black hole, ask your manager, or even a colleague, for standing check-in meetings every one or two weeks. Let him/her know that you’d like to use the time to check in on your projects, and that you’d love honest feedback on where you could improve.

  • Examine situations in which attempts to motivate people have failed. Reflect on why the actions were unsuccessful and discuss it with them.

Formal Training/Education

School and Course Module(s):

Eastern Wyoming College

MGT1000 Introduction to Supervision (3L, 3CR): This course seeks to develop an understanding and appreciation of the basic concepts of supervision, to include planning, organizing, human resources management, directing, and controlling. Topics covered also include motivation, delegation, leadership, communications, team-building, total quality management, and discipline. The course should assist one to acquire the skills necessary.

  • Online Training(s):

Coursera: Inspiring and Motivating Individuals:


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