The Magic of Motivation

Do you feel you are not getting the best out of your employees? Do you have a high turnover rate? Are you always behind on schedule? Are you always under stress from facing angry customers? Are you constantly overloaded? Do you feel you can do better but just can’t understand why the performance is not up to your expectations? Do you suffer from a lot of absenteeism from your employees?

Well, ask yourself are your employees motivated? If you want to ensure the best quality and productivity out of your employees, do two things:

  1. DO NOT de-motivate them.
  2. DO motivate them.

How can you de-motivate your employees?


  1. Not paying them satisfying salaries (compared to the market)
  2. Delaying raises, promotions and bonuses.
  3. Not allowing them to take their vacations.
  4. Calling them to cut their vacations and come to work.
  5. Promising to compensate for the vacation they never took and failing to do so.
  6. Not providing a proper parking place for their cars.
  7. Not providing a clean, nice, well furnished, with sufficient light and atmosphere for them to work at (including air conditioning, well chosen furniture colors, wall colors,…..)
  8. Not providing appropriate office equipment.
  9. Not providing a clear, well understood and communicated company policy and Not abiding by it if it is there.
  10. Not providing shuttle service if the company location is not convenient.
  11. Not providing a company car if employees need to make customer visits.
  12. Not providing a healthy and friendly environment in the office.
  13. Not providing decent and very clean rest rooms.

How can you motivate your employees?


  1. Treat your employees with respect. Show them that you care about them as human beings and not just employees.
  2. Give each employee the recognition he deserves.
  3. Praise and acknowledge good work in public and in private. Everyone has to know that you are happy with a work well done. At the same time the person who did the good work deserves some of your time in private to know how happy you are with his accomplishments. It has to be prompt as well i.e. once you know about it. Delayed praises are meaningless.
  4. Punish and criticize in private ONLY.
  5. Praise good attempts not only final results.
  6. Reward based on performance. Do not think that if you do not offer raises, rewards and bonuses you are a good manager because you are saving the company budget. You are not because you are loosing your employees and on the long run all the good ones will leave and you will end up with a weak staff that will make you loose much more than what you thought you were saving.
    In this article they say that Opera Winfrey offers her employees new cars and trips around the world! 🙂
  7. Involve employees in plans and decisions. Do not be a dictator and take all the decisions on your own. Make your staff feel that you respect their mentalities and that they are involved in every step their company or department takes. This will make you gain your employees’ loyalty because they will feel that the company is theirs and they are taking the decisions.
  8. Create an inspirational environment where your employees can be creative. This can be done in different ways. For example: by getting involved socially with your employees, by organizing trips, organizing family gatherings, having a monthly meeting for instance for exchanging ideas about how to enhance your performance and implementing the ones that are agreed upon….and many other ways.
  9. Create opportunities for employees to learn new skills and grow. Many managers are afraid of helping their staff grow. This is very wrong, the more leaders you create the better manager you are. If you insist on making your employees your followers you will live and die unrecognized.
  10. Actively listen to your employees’ concerns whether work related or personal and take appropriate actions to resolve them if you can.
  11. Provide something new all the time….New challenge, new skills to learn, new title, new responsibilities, new privileges…
  12. Spend some time with each and every employee regularly. This is crucial to understand what motivates each one of them. Take care that every person is motivated by different things, so you have to know how to motivate each one of your staff. You might find someone who does not care about praises; he is only motivated by a promotion or a bonus. Someone else is motivated much more by being praised and by acknowledging his work in front of everyone than by being paid a bonus. You have to discover the best way to motivate each member of your staff.

I read in a book titled “Motivating People”, by Robert Heller that it is important to measure the morale around the office regularly to make sure that your employees are motivated. The ways of measuring the morale as mentioned in the book are:

  • Attitude Questionnaires: to be filled by all staff members regularly. This is an expensive option because it has to be created by experts who can advise which questions to ask. You have to follow up on them to make sure that everyone filled the questionnaire. And they reveal trends around the office rather than an entire situation.
  • Opinion Polls. A random sample of employees to be chosen each time the poll is done. Can be repeated more often then the longer attitude questionnaires. Good for follow up on management performance. Lacks depth because not everyone is asked.
  • Unstructured Interviews. Arranging for some selected employees to meet with external interviewer to talk about the company.
  • Focus groups. Arranging for some selected employees to meet with external interviewer to talk about the company but this time in groups not individually. The interviewer has to be careful because in groups people influence each other and problems can be exaggerated or under-stated.

There is a nice test at the end of the book titled “Are you a good motivator?” if anyone is interested send me an email and I will send it to you to take the test and see how good you are.

The following paragraph is a quotation from this article.

In a survey for American Express, pollsters asked employees, “What do you want most from your employer?” The results? 46% of employees said they wanted personal feedback and 32% stated financial rewards would motivate them. Personal feedback involves communication on a regular basis. Sound simple? Here ‘s a startling statistic: In a study of 22,000 shift workers, almost 70% said there ‘s little communication between them and management. Communication can be walking the halls and asking, “How ‘s it going?” Tim Van Houten, director of Quinault Beach Resort and Casino in Washington State says, “We (myself and my supervisors) motivate through our personal example…modeling eye contact; smiles; name recognition; caring and concern for both our internal guests (fellow team members) and our external guests (those visitors we have the privilege of serving.) If it works for a casino, it can work for your staff!” — end of quote

The magic of motivation is that by very simple techniques and small gestures you can get remarkable achievements out of your employees. It is really magical how a couple of minutes of your time to thank an employee for his good work will encourage him to do his best to keep earning your appreciation. You will be surprised if you pay a bonus or offer a promotion to an employee by the amount of work you will get out of him after it.


5 thoughts on “The Magic of Motivation

  1. Very good article, but sounds very difficult to b implemented in Egypt, bcs unfortunately the culture of making new leadrs and caring about employess as human beings is not largely appreciated… but lets stay optimistic!

  2. I Totally agree with you.

    I wanted to add that amongst the biggest demotivators and demoralizers are the lack of vision and limited career growth opportunities.

    Lack of vision on the management side – or poor communication thereof – can make employees very demotvated. It’s like a ship captain not knowing the destination or not telling the passengers where they are going. Would the passengers trust the captain?

    I’ve seen a lot of people with huge expertise quit their jobs because the management failed to communicate the company vision to them.

    Also if you work in a place where you can’t see career growth opportunities, you surely won’t feel motivated about what you do.

  3. Amazing post, managers should study\practice OB science especially “motivation” part and apply its theoretical theories at their organizations.

    I liked this so much “Punish and criticize in private ONLY.”

    Really your post is much greater than some HBR posts talking about “motivation”.

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