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Workplace Motivation: Different Perks for Different People

Leaders, if you think you can motivate all your team members with the prospect of more money or a corner office, think again. Individual motivations can vary like the flavors at Baskin-Robbins.
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2015-01-19-Motivation2.JPGLeaders, if you think you can motivate all your team members with the prospect of more money or a corner office, think again. Individual motivations can vary like the flavors at Baskin-Robbins. Yet some leaders persist in offering the same few inducements to everyone, year after year. You wouldn't give all your kids the same Christmas presents, would you? At least my three children don't want the same things.

People don't choose the same benefits package at work, because the motivations are different. Someone who's married with children and a single person might choose different healthcare packages. Someone near retirement might select a different investment portfolio than someone who's just embarking on a career. Most HR departments have long since realized the need for different motivators on the benefits front. If HR can do it, why can't you?

Stepping Up to the Plate

What motivates your team members to perform? I have one that's motivated by money. One that wants time off. One that wants to work from home more. You'll have to get to know them in depth, so you can determine what drives them. That takes time (which may be why so few managers ever bother to put such an initiative into action). But if you do, you'll jump ahead of 90 percent of your colleagues and competitors.

IT professionals, for example, often work long hours, and have to jettison their personal plans whenever crises erupt. They may be appreciative if you're more liberal with comp time and pay for their certifications and product classes. Perhaps one worker seems perfectly happy not to move into management, so motivating extra productivity with bonuses may well work with them, whereas offering the opportunity for a promotion might work well for someone itching to climb the leadership ladder. Other people may just be working for your respect, for intrinsic reasons like the pleasure of doing a job well, or for public recognition. Others respond to sincere efforts to provide nice workplace amenities. It's your job to find out!

You owe it to yourself to take the time to learn your team members well enough to dangle the right carrots when tempting them toward greater productivity. Thoughts, beliefs, ambitions, and goals all contribute to individual motivation, so take those into account when you motivate. You're not creating the motivation -- you're cultivating what already exists.

Take the time to schedule a one-on-one meeting with each individual and have a candid conversation. We'd love to hear about what you've done to motivate your team members. What works best for you?

© 2015 Laura Stack. Laura Stack, MBA, is America's Premier Expert in Productivity™. For over 20 years, Laura has worked with business leaders to execute more efficiently, boost performance, and accelerate results in the workplace. Her company, The Productivity Pro, Inc., provides productivity workshops around the globe to help attendees achieve Maximum Results in Minimum Time®. Laura is the bestselling author of six books, with over 20 foreign editions, published by Random House, Wiley, and Berrett-Koehler, including her newest work, Execution IS the Strategy (March 2014). Widely regarded as one of the leading experts in the field of performance and workplace issues, Laura has been featured on the CBS Early Show, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. Connect via her website, ok, or Twitter.

*Photo provided by Microsoft

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