Are You Still Using Money to Motivate Your Employees?

BY Kathy Crosett
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You just offered one of your employees a chance to go to an industry conference with you and two colleagues. In your opinion, this trip should be a huge motivator and reward for her. So why is she hesitating? Why doesn’t she seem excited about this great opportunity? You’ve probably fallen into the trap that snares most managers, as Susan Fowler discusses in a smartbrief​.com post.

Fowler reviews the research done by Ken Kovach on the subject of managers and the methods they use to motivate their team members.  All too often, there’s a huge disconnect in this area, which means the employee is not motivated to work harder because of the reward she is given.

Managers have long used financial rewards to get their team members excited about working harder. Kovach’s research shows that bonuses and higher pay are external motivators and something that employees feel they have little control over. Sure, they appreciate the extra money, but the financial reward is not as meaningful as internal motivators.

So what are these internal motivators? They are a little harder to get at and highly personal. One team member may be energized by talking with customers. She may feel personally empowered and satisfied every time she’s able to resolve a customer service issue. To motivate this employee to work even harder for the good of the company, give her more authority and autonomy to make decisions on her own. For example, maybe she can issue refunds without having to clear it with a supervisor.

As a manager, you’re not going to know what motivates your team members until you ask them. To get at internal motivation, ask them about their favorite parts of their jobs. It might take a few meetings between you and your team members to completely understand what will get them excited about doing their best, but once you get these details rights, your people will feel more engaged and loyal.

About that team member you offered the conference trip to? Have you talked with her about why she loves her job? Chances are she isn’t all that interested in traveling or conferences, but maybe she’d like to have complete control over a new set of reports that are under design. You’ll never know unless you take a few minutes to get to know her and ask a few key questions.