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Techniques to Motivate Employees

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Benefits of motivation

So why is it important to motivate employees? Motivating your team:

  • Reduces the risk of losing valued employees
  • Reduces costs of sickness absence and loss of productivity
  • Reduces disruption due to interpersonal conflict or value clashes
  • Increases co-operation and collaborative working, and
  • Builds energy, creativity, and engagement due to raised mutual understanding, respect, and mental wellbeing

Research has shown that where team members’ natural energy and healthy psychological functioning is reduced, so is company performance. It also shows that when workers feel acknowledged and respected, they are more highly committed, more creative, and are motivated through their inner work to go that extra mile to optimize performance and results.

Motivating your team

There are numerous techniques you can use to motivate employees such as recognizing great work, celebrating results, providing rewards, and so on. However, while these methods are popular and high-impact in the short to medium term, they tend to be low-impact in the long-term and less likely to lead to genuine buy-in. Two effective techniques for motivating employees are:

  • Setting goals that employees have an interest in
  • Delegating important tasks

Setting goals

Extrinsic motivation techniques address only the first stage of natural motivation, in that, they give the team goals. However, team members will learn to recognize the task the manager wishes them to work on as a way to win a prize, rather than an actual process worth completing or learning from. So, once the reward has been earned, team members no longer have the motivation to retain the skills or processes they have learned along the way. Their questions about the task are more likely to be; "What's the least amount of effort I can put in to satisfy my manager and gain my reward?"

A better way to motivate team members is to give them the opportunity to achieve goals that satisfies two conditions: one – that team members have a real interest in this goal, and two – that low-motivating tasks or skills are intrinsically related to the goal.

This makes the task seem less trivial and allows team members to properly index the skills and learning necessary to achieve the goal. They then learn skills in a context in which they can later use.


Delegation, while not commonly recognized as a motivation technique, is highly effective. Put simply, you delegate to motivate. If I were to approach you and state that there was a very important task that I wanted you to complete, that there was no one else with your skillset who could do it, and that most importantly I trust you to complete this task for me, then delegation becomes an extremely powerful motivator tool. The person who has been tasked with carrying out the instruction now strives to the best of their ability to achieve the desired result, to be rewarded with your thanks.

You can take this one step further if you set the task to be delegated just slightly above the person’s ability level. Then they will strive to succeed and gain the resulting respect that comes from completing the task.

Role of the manager

Whatever motivation technique you choose, it is important to remember that as a manager, you can only achieve your team goals through the actions of your team who need their own clear motivation to achieve results.

Throughout all stages of the motivation process, managers should:

  • Gain trust through active listening and empathy.
  • Set high expectations to inspire the team.
  • Establish a clear strategy and plan, and communicate them often.
  • Practice MBWA (or Management By Walking Around) to question, listen, and ascertain if your communications about the task are being understood.
  • Develop clear and measurable indicators of success and acknowledge such success.
  • Use ‘why’, ‘how’ and ‘when’ questions with employees. For example, questions such as: ‘Where are we?’, ‘What do I need to know?’ and ‘How can I help you?’

And finally, ensure that every individual has clear responsibilities and performance expectations. If a manager does not set explicit expectations, then the members of the team will not be aware of what is expected of them. Assigned tasks will fail if the initial set of instructions have not been clearly defined at the outset.

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Kevin J Reid and Bill Phillips

Kevin Reid is CEO of Personal Skills Training, Senior Coach at Kevin J Reid Coaching, Co-founder and Communications Director of The Counsel.ie, and Lead Collaborator of LeitrimMade.com.

  • A consummate and skillful international communications trainer, facilitator, and coach
  • Has over 15 years of learning development experience with individuals, teams, and entire organizations
  • Has facilitated communications workshops and training across numerous sectors in Ireland, the UK, Europe, America, and Africa

In this module, Kevin is the instructor for the ‘The Art of Persuasion’ and ‘Motivating Your Team’ lessons.


Bill Phillips is an International Facilitator, Trainer, and Team Coach.

  • Has successfully coached CEOs, board members, directors, executive teams, and team leaders in public and private companies, NGOs, and UN organizations in 15 countries across four continents
  • Is the creator of Future-basing®, a highly potent process for building strategy, vision, and cooperation
  • Inspires people to build excellent interpersonal relationships and achieve their goals

In this module, Bill is the instructor for the ‘Managing Upwards’ lesson.

The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful.

You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library

You will not be assessed on this content.


    Persuading and Influencing
    Kevin J Reid and Bill Phillips
    Skills Expert

    The ability to persuade and influence others is an important skill that every leader should aim to cultivate. Being able to persuade and influence means that leaders can win people over to their way of thinking, get things done, and achieve results – without having to coerce employees or bribe them into action.

    In this module, you will learn techniques you can use to successfully persuade an audience, such as listening actively to audience members when they speak to you, and being honest and trustworthy in all your communications. You will also discover how to handle any objections you may encounter to your proposals.

    In addition, you will learn the importance of developing a self-motivating team, who don’t always rely on you for direction. You will learn techniques you can use to motivate employees, such as setting goals that they have an interest in and delegating important tasks. You will learn why it’s better to focus on intrinsic, rather than extrinsic, motivation. And you will learn how to recognize the signals that point to a motivated team.

    And it’s not just your employees that you need to concentrate on. It can also be beneficial to manage upwards, and to be able to persuade and influence your boss. Managing upwards involves building the best possible relationship with your boss, with the intention of making both your work lives easier. This module provides tips and techniques to help you do that.