Trying to motivate individuals is always tricky because of the variations between them, and how they interact with your own personality and motivation.  Remember at all times to serve your ultimate interest – obtaining the right outcome. 

Assessing Individuals

To motivate well, start by assessing the individuals in your team. Once you have done so, you will have a far better idea of the best ways in which to motivate them to achieve their maximum potential. Always approach people without preconceptions, and concentrate your attention on performance – not on personality, habits, or physical appearance. Liking people is a valuable quality in a good leader; favoritism is not. It demotivates the unfavored and may make the favorite unpopular within the team. Avoid accepting a third party judgment of a member of staff; make up your own mind.

Recognizing Differences

To achieve the best results from each individual, it is important that you recognize their specific motives, and treat people on their own merits. Differences in behavior may be influenced by age, gender, and position on the career ladder.

Give tasks to the most suitable people. For example, a gregarious person will be best at a task that involves meeting people, while someone with a quiet personality may appreciate being given a task that mainly involves working alone. Do not shy away from giving tasks that may develop skills and increase motivation.

Tailoring Your Actions

Different people want their managers to play different roles. One may seek a parent-figure, while another one wants to prove his or her capability. A third may be looking for reassurance. If the role makes sense in management terms, play it. You have to be both soft and hard. Use the appropriate management style for each individual. It is not necessary for everyone on the team to be like you, but they must like working for you. Achieve this through firmness as well as friendliness.

Offering Incentives

There are many incentives you can offer to help motivate people, and each has different effects. Some of those commonly used include recognition, money, health and family benefits, and insurance. There tends, however, to be a dividing line between financial and non-financial incentives. If you are not in a position to offer financial incentives like pay raises and bonuses it is still possible to motivate staff by ensuring that the non-financial incentives you offer are attractive to the potential recipient. For example, you might allocate a parking space for someone who drives to work. Think about the general and specific requirements of your staff.

Setting Realistic Goals

Motivate both teams and individuals by involving them in deciding on budgets, targets, and other goals. Find the right combination of targets and reward – one that will maximize effort and achieve economic returns for the company – remembering that no scheme linking rewards to goals can work well unless both aims and thresholds are realistic and fair. For example, if you are trying to make cost savings, advise the team of present cost levels, give them target figure to work towards, and tell them the figure for the company as a whole. Offer a proportion of their target savings as a reward.

Making Incentives Work

If your staff are earning good rates of pay, have interesting and responsible jobs, and recognition from you as their manager for work well done, they should perform well without constant offers of new incentives, Reserve exceptional incentives for occasions when exceptional effort is required to meet demanding targets. Do not allow staff to expect special rewards for simply doing their jobs.

Things to Do

  1. Offer a variety of fringe benefits, allowing people to choose from several options.
  2. Look for projects in which cash savings can be shared.
  3. Use gifts as incentives when cash is not possible.
  4. Set realistic timescales if goals are very demanding.

Choosing From Incentive Options

There are many ways in which you can provide incentives to motivate your staff. Try some of the following:

  • If you have large numbers, group staff into teams and offer a reward on the “winning” team.
  • Put staff into three teams and split the total reward into first, second and third “prizes” to reward all the teams.
  • Do not set any limits on incentives – devise individual targets for each person.
  • Allow people to set their own goals, and link the incentives to ambitions as well as successes.
  • Set a threshold – nobody gets anything unless the benchmark is passed.
  • Run a lottery in which every 10 percent improvement wins a ticket that enables people to compete for prizes.
  • Devise extra incentives for performance early in the financial period in order to get a fast start.


  1. Stretch people with goals that push them to perform better.
  2. Make the most of new staff by first making feel welcome.
  3. Form your own opinions of your colleagues and staff.
  4. Be as natural as possible, but tailor your approach to each individual.
  5. Remember that what you measure and reward is what you get.
  6. Do not put a ceiling on incentives.

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Bernard Taiwo

I am Management strategist, Editor and Publisher.

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Tue Apr 26 , 2022
<div class="at-above-post addthis_tool" data-url=""></div>GETTING THE BEST FROM PEOPLE: MOTIVATING GROUPS People behave differently in groups. Mob hysteria is one example. Its benevolent opposite is the spirit of togetherness that can animate groups of any size. Motivate staff by mobilizing support for their group aims and setting strategies for tackling objectives. Leading a Team […]<!-- AddThis Advanced Settings above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url=""></div><!-- AddThis Share Buttons generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Related Posts below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><div class="at-below-post-recommended addthis_tool" ></div><!-- AddThis Related Posts generic via filter on get_the_excerpt -->

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