How To Motivate Your Employees To Perform Better and Excel At Work

Updated: September 24, 2014

I don’t have a background in Human Resources and going into business, I never thought it was something necessary for me to learn.

But I was wrong, for if we truly want to be business owners and not just self-employed individuals, then we must learn how to properly manage and motivate our employees to excel at work.

So how do you do this? How do you motivate your staff and instill in them that same passion you have to make the business succeed?

Instantly, monetary rewards and incentive programs come to mind.

What better way to make your employees work harder than to give them more money if they do well, right?


It may seem illogical and quite surprising but several studies and incentive experiments have already been done which proves that the typical motivation scheme within organizations which gives monetary rewards for better work performance DOES NOT always work.

Yes, you read that right.

And to give you more insight on this, here’s a very interesting and highly entertaining presentation adapted from a talk by Dan Pink for RSA. This video best illustrates the hidden truths behind what really motivates people.

DRIVE: The surprising truth about what motivates us

Quite interesting and educational isn’t it?

My favorite insights were:

  • For simple, straight forward tasks, reward incentives work.
  • For complicated tasks requiring conceptual and creative thinking, reward incentives doesn’t work.
  • Money as motivator:
    • If you don’t pay enough, people won’t be motivated to work; BUT
    • You only have to pay people just enough so that money will not be an issue for them at work.

And of course, the most important lesson from the talk, the three factors that lead to better performance and personal satisfaction in people, which are:

  1. Autonomy: the desire to be self-directed; personal engagement.
  2. Mastery: the urge to get better at stuff; getting better at something is satisfying.
  3. Purpose: having a transcendent purpose; companies that are flourishing are usually driven by purpose.

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  1. Once an employee is motivated not only with money, you will find an employee committed to excellence, yielding to learning and loyal to the company. Every employer should aim to become great leaders and not just bosses.

  2. After graduation, I worked in a call center and money was my main motivation. And it has proven that “it’s not all about the money.”

    You need to create passion on what your employees do. If not, it would be so dragging to come to the office daily with the same routine.

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  4. It is a good thing that you are now enlightened. Now if only other employers would be as insightful as you.

    I have been in Human Resources my whole career and have dealt with management that really do not see how important it is to motivate their own employees. As they say, people leave bosses, not organizations.

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