What’s My Motivation? How to Reward Your Team


Understanding how to motivate people is key in any business and specially in non-profits. Early in life I thought most people were motivated by cash. After all happiness comes with more stuff, right? Well, that’s not been my experience. While most of us want to live well, most people I know would give money for the satisfaction of doing something they love. While I still have a long way to go in becoming a better manager of people, here’s a few things I’ve learned over the years.

How to reward your employees

Praise publicly, criticize privately. There’s nothing more encouraging to a team member than the praise of a superior in a public setting. The opposite, however, is true for criticism. Over the years I have made the mistake of inverting this equation with dire consequences.

Take a chance. Everyone wants to have an impact in their work environment. One of the most motivational things you can do as a team leader is to take a chance on an idea or project by someone who works for you. This type of affirmation means more to some than money.

Be creative. Maybe cash is tight and you can’t offer perks than your competitor but you can create a dynamic work environment where people thrive. Managers have seem to think that throwing cash at a problem is the only way to solve it. it seldom is. People want to contribute, make a difference and belong to a winning team that’s accomplishment something positive.

Unless you understand what people value the most, you cannot properly reward someone. For some is to hear words of affirmation, others is the ability to take more ownership or implement of an idea, and, yes, to some it’s a raise.

Beyond a raise, how do you want to be rewarded?

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  • Andrew Acker

    Usually any Apple product is a good reward. But I also think it depends on a persons love languages (I know, I went there). Most assume it’s a book just relevant for couples or dating/marriage relationships, but really, it could be titled the five motivational languages. Peoples love languages transcend into work as well and you touched on a few, but I think there is great value in being aware of team members love languages.

    • Well, I bought everyone in my business an iPad for Christmas.

      • Andrew Acker

        O, don’t worry, I remember that post, haha. I’m sure none of your team was too upset with the gift. It was another thing that made me quickly wonder if I should have been looking to change companies…

  • Great stuff. Looking forward to using this as a leader someday.

  • Lisa Lewis

    I like when my boss passes any compliments I get from my customers to others in the company.

    • I liked that as well until I became the boss and then I have to pass my own compliments to others. 🙂

  • jasonhaas

    Maurilio great article and definitely needed in the current economic time that many businesses and organizations find themselves in. You are right-on with this article. Even in looking at Herzberg’s Motivation Theory, which is typically the “go-to” research for this type of study, research shows that people are just as (or even more) motivated by Intrinsic Rewards (public praise, respect, motivation) as they are by Extrinsic Rewards (money, etc.)

    Great job. I always enjoy reading your material.

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