Employee Motivation – A 7 Point Checklist For Success

Millions of words have been written about employee motivation. I’ve contributed a few thousand myself. The topic is nowhere nears as complex or difficult as some gurus would have you believe. Pay careful attention to the following seven issues and the motivation will follow.

1. Say Exactly What You Expect

Employees want to know exactly the results that you want from them. Set crystal clear, unambiguous, measurable performance standards. Performance goals are important. But performance standards tell employees how well they’re progressing and how they’ll know they’ve achieved the results you want.

2. Specify Exactly How Their Performance Will Be Measured

Set the performance standards. Say precisely how their performance will be measured against the standards. The standard may be to produce 9 content rich, published blogs each calendar month. The measure may be to produce 2 a week for 4 consecutive weeks plus one “standby” blog. You could also define “content rich” and “publishable”.

3. Tell Them “How Well They’re Going”

Employees should know, daily if possible, how well they’re performing against the standards. Your internal systems should produce that information. You should support it through verbal feedback as required and at least every week.

4. Provide Resources

You cannot expect top performance if you don’t provide and maintain adequate resources: equipment, tools, time, machines and support. That’s all that needs to be said about this.

5. Create Performance Systems

Your role is, with employees, to put systems in place that make it impossible for them to fail. Remember “system” is merely a word we use to describe “how we do things around here.” If your systems are poor your people will fail. That’s the reality.

6. Establish Performance Based Reward Systems

Pay employees well when they achieve results. Pay incentives to reward superior performance. It’s best to establish reward and incentives systems that reinforce the importance and value of performance standards.

7. Encourage Autonomy

Set standards, establish systems, provide feedback, reward performance. Having done that, encourage employees to recommend improvements in all three areas. Employees want to give you what you expect. But they also expect you to respect their achievement with greater freedom to act to improve things.

Other Issues

  • Select staff with great care: look for people who’ll respond to a strong performance based approach.
  • Measure performance, not behaviour: behaviour matters only if it inhibits performance.
  • Have clearly defined, narrow business focus and a clearly defined target market.
  • Pep talks have limited, if any, value: implement the 7 points and you won’t need to give pep talks.
  • Try to create positive consequences for employees who perform well.


Always keep in mind that you’re not trying to motivate employees. You’ll be a truly successful “motivator” only when you’ve established a culture where employees motivate themselves.

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