Five vital questions that can boost and maintain employee motivation


As a manager it's vital to ensure that your staff are sufficiently motivated to perform their tasks competently and in timely fashion. Once upon a time it was thought that financial incentives were the key to employee motivation, but studies have shown that pay raises and bonuses are merely short-term motivators. Staff motivation is a complex subject since every employee is different and a vast range of personal and external factors may contribute to an individual?s motivation or demotivation.
Management training specialists Maguire Training offer several informative and practical training courses which examine methodologies of staff motivation and provide managers and leaders with the knowledge and skills they need to successfully motivate others in the workplace.

That said, there are common factors in the workplace which can affect the motivation of every employee. As a manager, finding the answers to the following five questions and acting upon them appropriately can lay the foundations for a significant improvement in team motivation which may then be further built upon.

Are the objectives I set sufficiently unambiguous and realistic?

The objective 'bake a loaf of bread' leaves a wide margin for errors, whereas 'bake a crusty wholemeal loaf in a one-kilogram loaf tin and dust with flour' is more likely to produce the result you require. If an employee needs to constantly ask questions about an objective that has been communicated ineffectively, is ambiguous or is insufficiently detailed this will lead to frustration and ultimately demotivation. Take time when setting objectives to explain them in the manner best suited to the employee and question them to ensure that they have fully understood what is required.


Can the employee cope with the particular tasks they have been given?

Even if you believe that, based upon your own assessment of an employee's capabilities, they should be able to handle the objectives you've allocated it's worth placing yourself in their shoes for a moment. Does the employee have tasks with conflicting priorities? Are external factors such as a reduced workforce, budgetary restrictions or an increased workload company-wide liable to impact the employee adversely? Feeling overwhelmed or needing to constantly firefight are severely detrimental to motivation so check with the employee that they are comfortable and able to cope.


Is there a need for skills acquisition?

As objectives tend to become increasingly demanding in accordance with an employee's knowledge and experience it isn't always safe to assume that they have every skill required to complete a new task. Identifying areas for personal development and training, and equipping each employee with all of the skills they need can be a positive motivator.


What is the current level of motivation?

Non-verbal communication can be a good indicator of an individual's level of motivation; do they frown or visibly shrink at the allocation of each new objective? Of course, asking each employee to give an honest indication of their current motivation both generally and in respect to specific tasks is the most obvious approach, but bear in mind that 'motivation' is both a subjective concept and is apt to fluctuate as circumstances change from one day to the next.


Am I monitoring and reviewing motivation effectively?

Motivation needs to be monitored and reviewed proactively. Employees may be reluctant to volunteer the information that they feel demotivated to their manager either because of pride or because they feel they may be deemed to be underperforming and penalised accordingly. However, there may be personal factors beyond the workplace which affect motivation. A system of monitoring and review may highlight unusual changes in motivation, allowing for exploration of the causes and remedial action.


In addition to expert classroom-based management and leadership courses, Maguire Training's excellent 'Theories of Motivation' course is also available via their innovative E-learning platform which enables candidates to acquire new skills and knowledge at the time, location and pace of their choice.

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