Motivating Others

Last time we saw how Jane and Bob work on communication, especially around problems, and that they are very clear when asking for what they need. Sometimes, they find that asking isn’t enough; they have to motivate their staff and team members.


Jane and Bob motivate their direct reports by focusing on their strengths, rather than weaknesses. People succeed when their tasks and goals build on their strengths, and they want to be and feel successful.

Jane and Bob work around their direct reports’ weaknesses by providing peer coaching and pairing with other people who are strong in their weak areas.


Match the right job to the right person first, and then help him grow into his role. A manager’s primary job is not to help every individual grow; it’s to improve performance. To do this, you have to identify whether each person is in the right role. Once everyone is where he or she is supposed to be, then you can help him or her grow.


Help direct reports establish their own goals that are aligned with the organization. Jane and Bob don’t have to tell you that when someone is invested in the success of the company, the company benefits. Make sure those goals have clear outcomes so each employee knows what success looks like and has milestones along the way.


Money is not the supreme motivator for all people, or even most people. Motivation can come in many forms (praise, security, opportunity, structure, challenge, power, status, influence, friends, more free time, flextime, and the list goes on). Learn what motivates each individual, and do what you can to provide more of it.

On the other hand, remove, to the best of your ability, factors that are negative and demotivating for your direct reports. Once you find out what motivates someone, the lack of or opposites are often demotivators. Ask him to confirm and eliminate what you can.

By the way, recognition for a job well done was the top motivator for employee performance, according to a survey by the Council of Communication Management.


Managers tend not to focus on employee motivation until it’s lost. What could the benefits be for your company if you focused on it now?

Praise is the most powerful motivator, but it must be immediate, factual, and sincere. Telling someone “Good job” immediately after a presentation doesn’t motivate the presenter. She has no idea what she did that was good. Instead, try, “You demonstrated fabulous facilitation, creative thinking, and leadership skills.” This tells her exactly what you think, and gives her feedback on what she did well so she can do it again.

Research shows that if a manager’s expectations are high, employee performance will be high. And, of course, the reverse is also true.

So, Jane and Bob add motivating their employees to their ever-growing managerial skills. The payoff, for company and individual, is boundless.