Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

Motivation Must Be Personal To Be Effective

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All employees are unique in what motivates them to perform to their capacity and excel in their profession. Most will do what is expected of them, but the motivated employee will go to great lengths to exceed expectations. The key is for managers to discover what truly drives their people. Once their motivation is understood, leaders have the power to get the most out of their employees.

Managers often feel there is no need to motivate their employees as long as the pay is adequate. Yet research has demonstrated that the majority of personal motivation is based upon a host of other significant factors such as achievement, recognition, responsibility, personal growth, and advancement.

Compensation is certainly a motivating factor, but it is often linked to these more prime motivators. A poorly designed compensation plan will cause employees to feel unappreciated and not be reflective of their personal achievements. Consequently, many employees link their compensation to their perception of how they are recognized within the organization.

Managers must understand that it is within their power and control to motivate each member of their team to excel.

Managers who wish to maximize their employees’ performance use specific motivators to create an environment in which individuals feel valued for their contributions to the company, know their efforts are appreciated and supported by the organization, and have the desire to achieve higher levels of personal performance. These results can be achieved by nurturing an atmosphere that includes the following elements:


Managers must take a genuine personal interest in each employee. Although significant, this means going beyond his or her life outside of work. The main areas in which to devote individual attention are in mentoring and nurturing a personal and professional growth as well as in understanding what motivates them. When managers demonstrate an interest in their employees, they are giving and sharing their time, lives and expertise with their employees.


Managers who wish to motivate their employees must develop confidence in their abilities. This means allowing employees to experiment with new ideas and techniques while understanding that, as people grow through their experiences, many lessons are best learned through personal mistakes and failure.

Managers must also have the confidence that their employees can develop realistic and attainable plans and allow them to work those plans without interference or micromanagement. Individuals who know they have the liberty to perform their jobs without fear of retribution if they falter are more motivated and empowered to stretch the limits of their capabilities.


Employees must be challenged to stretch their personal and professional limits. This includes personal and professional development in areas of vocational knowledge, skills and expertise.


Managers must maintain a sense of pride in their team, their company and the products they sell. Employees must continually sell themselves on the value of the company and its products or services. If employees aren’t sold, they will have difficulty convincing others of the company’s worth. Additionally, as people need a spark to overcome daily stress and adversity, managers must build and nurture a passion in their employees to achieve and succeed.


Managers must establish a sense of fellowship between the individual members of their workplace, which thereby creates comradery and emotional support. Successfully done, this builds a strong team atmosphere and healthy sense of friendly competition that is beneficial to the organization.

Reward and Recognition

Managers should use fair and consistent standards with which to measure performance and base rewards and recognition. Employees should be evaluated against their own performance, and, for best impact, appropriate recognition should be given immediately.


Beyond tangible rewards and recognition, managers must demonstrate their personal appreciation for the efforts and contributions made by their individual employees. They should also avoid taking the top performers on their team for granted. Because these individuals need little attention or direction, they are often overlooked as managers invest more time with more inexperienced or problematic employees. To stretch their personal abilities, the best of the group also need ongoing recognition, appreciation and encouragement.


Motivation Is More Than Money

16 Ways to Motivate Employees and to Celebrate Their Successes

Leaders Have Three Motivational Tools Available to Them

Recognition Must Be Given Liberally, Frequently and Publicly

Excerpt: Motivating Employees: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved


Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

February 12, 2013 at 11:41 am

9 Responses

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  1. Nice article, Timothy. “Once their motivation is understood, leaders have the power to get the most out of their employees.” I wonder if the above phrasing in the opening paragraph is quite right? Perhaps instead: “Once their employees’ motivation is understood, leaders have the personal insight to be able to help theIr employees fulfil their potential”?

    Scott Russon

    February 12, 2013 at 1:35 pm

  2. Really enjoyed reading this article. I have recently moved into an organisation that has a strong focus on personal, specific and constructive feedback, and I have found it too be very motivating, and to be honest – quite relieving. Definitely not something I had experienced from previous line managers.


    February 13, 2013 at 3:11 am

  3. […] Here is an interesting article on the subject : http://blog.majoriumbusinesspress.com/2013/02/12/motivation-must-be-personal-to-be-effective/ […]

    The Office Is A Jungle

    February 13, 2013 at 8:27 am

  4. Timothy, another great blog post, thanks for sharing your thoughts. The key to me is where you say managers must take a genuine personal interest in each employee. For motivation, support the feeling that work is more than just a mindless routine. This is crucial and it’s why, for me, while domain expertise is important, interpersonal skills are always the crucial facet of any exceptional manager.

    Ara Ohanian

    February 15, 2013 at 4:20 am

  5. The section around Confidence is often overlooked. When people are free to make mistakes, their creativity levels are raised even higher. This resonates with me 100%.

    Molotlegi Mokgatle

    February 19, 2013 at 12:42 am

  6. I think this is a good, well-written & thoughtful article about motivation. I especially concur with the clarifying comment made by Mr. Russon about understanding what motivates an individual. We often suggest that motivation is sourced by one of two drivers: A drive toward a vision, a belief, a possibility to be created in the future. Or, a drive away from something in the past, a set of conditions or a situation we never want to return to and/or be in. That is, motivation in its simplest sense is moving toward something, or away from something. The “something” is usually very personal. .

    Paul Plotczyk

    February 20, 2013 at 4:33 pm

  7. I really enjoyed your article. I feel very strongly about getting to know employees personally. Everyone one wants to feel appreciated as a person, not just a commodity. The key is to ask, but even more important to really listen. So many people don’t truly listen with their full focus.

    Ellen Scalese

    February 21, 2013 at 9:16 am

  8. […] I read a great article by Timothy Bednarz, Ph.D posted by someone on Linked-in called “Motivation Must be Personal to be Effective” […]

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