Are you using outdated incentives to motivate your team?

Are you using outdated incentives to motivate your team?

A friend shared a story about her daughter, Keira, who is seven years old. Keira walked up to her mother and said, “Mum I’ve been thinking and I don’t need pocket money so I don’t have to do my jobs anymore”. She gave her amused mother all her pocket money back and went outside to play.

For Keira’s first week of jobs, ticks on star charts and pocket money paid was successful. Everyone seemed happy, including the stakeholders (parents). After a week, the shine wore off. Keira re-evaluated the arrangement, determined that the money wasn’t needed and was not enough of a payback, so she promptly “resigned”.  

Keira, like most people, isn’t motivated solely by money, and now those jobs are not getting done.

Research on what motivates people/employees shows consistently that money is not a key motivating factor to drive performance.

So what is?  

Robert Tanner shares these tips in his article on the top five employee motivators. He says that “results consistently show over time that the top 5 motivators for employees are the following”:

1. Challenging Work

2. Recognition

3. Employee Involvement

4. Job Security

5. Compensation

Are all these five factors present in how you work with your team to improve motivation and performance?

Think about the methods you are employing to motivate the individuals in your team. Are they short term and tactical, or are they set up to provide long term, sustainable results?

Leaders often feel pressured to come up with the answers themselves and can feel frustrated when they don’t land the right formula. Take some pressure off, work with your team to come up with the answers together.

Take time today to have a conversation with your team to gather their thoughts on the top five factors listed.

Ask them to step up as leaders, take some accountability and responsibility for their own motivation, and together look at what needs to change to keep motivation and performance high.

As the leader, communicate the important priorities that the team needs to focus on and how these link to the most important priorities of the organisation. I’ll leave you with these wise words from Stephen Covey:

“When people are crystal clear about the most important priorities of the organization and team they work with, and prioritize their work around those top priorities, not only are they many times more productive, they discover they have the time they need to have a whole life.


Pollyanna Lenkic is the founder of Perspectives Coaching, an Australia-based coaching and training company.


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