Motivation: How to motivate people

Motivation is different for every person. Rarely in a company will you find something that will fully motivate multiple workers. This is why it is hard to give out an overall prize and have everyone willing to do the hardest they can to achieve the goal. So instead of trying to set an overall goal without conversing with your team, get them all together and make a deal. Come to an agreement on something they can all work toward. Whether it be a compromise of some sort where one group gets what they want, while the other half gets something else they want in return for allowing the other group to come out on top this time.  Below is a great example of how the proper motivation can resolve a conflict between two groups of people.

There are many different ways of motivating suits and geeks.  Suits are a little easier to understand.   Give them a promotion, a prize, or a cash bonus and they are usually happy.  Geeks are the more complicated people to please.  If you aren’t a geek, it’s hard to know what they would enjoy without being specifically told.  Luckily, Paul Glen is here to help.  Glen is not only one of the authors of our books, he is the CEO of the company Leading Geeks.  He has devoted his life to helping all kinds of people learn to lead.  He even contributed to an article on Tech REpublic titled “11 ways to motivate geeks.”  I have taken off a few of the more obvious descriptions on some of the meanings. These 11 steps are:

1. Select Wisely. The most important thing a leader can do to encourage intrinsic motivation is to assign work to geeks who have an interest in the work.

2. Manage Meaning. The second most important thing a leader can do is to give a geek some sense of the larger significance of their work. Without a sense of meaning, motivation suffers and day-to-day decisions become difficult. It is easy for geeks to become mired in the ambiguous world of questions, assumptions, and provisional facts characteristic of technical work.

3. Communicate Significance.

4. Show Career Path. Many geeks have only a vague sense that there’s more to advancing their careers than just acquiring new technical knowledge. Be specific about what competencies a geek must demonstrate in order to advance their career.

5. Projectize. Projects help turn work into a game and geeks love games with objectives that delineate both goals and success criteria.

6. Encourage Isolation.

7. Engender External Competition. Healthy competition can enhance group cohesion.

8. Design Interdependence. When a colleague is relying on you to complete your work, it’s much easier to put in the extra effort for them than it is just to meet some externally imposed deadline.

9. Limit Group Size.

10. Control Resource Availability. Whether thinking about money, people, time, or training, there’s a delicate balance of resources that will encourage a group’s enthusiasm. Too many resources or too few can diminish interest in the work.

11. Offer Free Food. . .Intermittently. tumblr_nkbcjzyOTm1t7qu3mo2_400

Many of these steps have to do with limiting the number of people in a group and making sure that the geeks are interested in the project they are working on.  Keep them busy and happy.  Do not force things on them.  They are not like suits.  Usually they are almost opposite.  But they are still part of the team.  Even if they many be hard to motivate, it does not mean that you cannot motivate them.  If necessary, sit them down and let them tell you what would motivate them.  Give them a say rather than forcing promotions, awards, and cash on them.  That is not going to work.

After you have figured out how to motivate everyone in your team, now you need to figure out how to keep them motivated.  Perhaps it would be a good idea to switch around the rewards from time to time so that everyone gets what they want.  Make sure it is different and unexpected.  If you start to get into a predictable pattern, your team will start to lose their motivation.  Motivation will turn into procrastination, the enemy of a good team.


Once you have a proper system for motivating everyone, you are now able to work successfully together and get things done.  The more productive you are, the more status you will get in the company.  This mean you will be able to choose projects first so you can get the ones that your team will enjoy doing.  It also means that the suits in your group will be happy because they will receive cash bonuses.  The more motivated everyone is, the better your team will work together as a group.

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