How to Increase Employee Motivation

Who among us as leaders hasn’t wondered how to increase employee motivation?

What makes one person see what’s necessary and just do it, and the next person has to be guided every step of the way or never does it at all? Why does one employee go the extra mile without thinking twice about it, and another employee does just the minimum required to ‘get by’?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I don’t believe we can increase employee motivation. However, before you tear out your hair or send me scathing emails, let me clarify something. Often we look at an employee’s behavior and say, ‘They aren’t motivated.’ We try a variety of techniques to increase employee motivation from ‘chats’ to reward systems and even to punishment. Nothing seems to work. Maybe the issue isn’t motivation. Maybe the issue is they need training or they don’t really understand what to do. If the issue is skill-based rather than attitude-based, then maybe it’s possible to increase employee motivation through training. But if they simply do not have the skills and never will, nothing will help increase employee motivation. And at some point we have to realize that we may have to encourage them to step out.

If the issue isn’t skill or training but, in fact, just attitude then I truly do not believe we can increase employee motivation by any method.

We may be able to change their behavior for a while through a rewards or punishment program. However, as soon as the pressure is off they will revert to their natural self. If the only way to increase employee motivation is a steady drip of intervention, you, in my opinion, have the wrong person.

Instead of spending your time attempting to motivate someone, use your time to find their replacement.

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