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Sunday, January 21, 2018

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Motivation: Do you use a carrot or a stick?
Debra Grimes

August, 2006

In conversation with many business managers, I often hear, "I just need to figure out how to motivate this guy. He has all the skills, but..."

I don't believe you can motivate another person; an individual can only motivate himself or herself. But you can create an environment that taps into each person's natural motivation. If employees are motivated they tend to meet and exceed expectations. We all have a personal preference on how we like to be engaged and often assume that what motivates us will motivate others. That's not always true, so it's helpful to be aware of the different elements that motivate people.

Generally speaking there are three different motivations for people within a group setting:

* Achievement - strive for excellence and meaningful work

* Affiliation - strong need for interaction and inclusion

* Influence - desire to impact others and their environment

Achievers are great. They work hard to get things done and will stick to a task until it is completed. They usually enjoy competition but resist working with others. This motivation is reinforced and maintained by providing challenging work that stretches their capabilities, setting specific goals and parameters to measure success, providing clear feedback and appreciation for their work, and giving tangible rewards.

Affiliators are the glue that binds a group together as they tend to emphasize collective efforts. You can't really have a healthy group without affiliators. They are usually warm and friendly, want to be liked, to help others and to make people happy. This motivation is reinforced by engaging them in group projects versus solo efforts, having a personal relationship with authority figures, and providing team-building and social activities.

Influencers primary motive is power, they see it as their role to convince others of the value of their ideas. They often bring valuable insight and experience to an organization. Allowing personal control over work-pace and methods, requesting input on the overall goals of the organization or department, and providing titles and/or positions that denote authority reinforce this motivation. They frequently rely on others to perform the tasks at hand.

Everyone has a primary motivational style, though we all can respond to all three motivators. What's your motivation style? Where have you worked where the structures and systems were in sync with your style? Where were they in conflict with your style? As a manager, if you are able to identify what motivates your employees you can help them be more effective by structuring their work and your time together based on their needs and interests. So who is that employee you would like to see motivated? What can you do differently to help them be more engaged?

Debra Grimes is the president and co-owner of Management Solutions Group. MSG is a consulting company that facilitates group thinking during strategic, operational and project planning as well as corporate and team retreats. They also provide leadership development through training, coaching and advising. MSG has served over 200 Nashville and San Antonio businesses across a variety of industries in its 10-year history. Using unique processes their team of experienced professionals develop organizations where people and profits thrive. For more information, visit their website at

* Based on the theories of David C. McClelland and work from Mary R. Bast, Ph.D. and Richard Linzer and Annie Hansen.


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