What motivates individuals? Will paid health care benefits and generous paid vacation time motivate employees? Generous benefits may encourage people to stay with the company longer but not necessarily motivate them to deliver their best level of productivity toward company profitability and growth. I would like to share with you some motivational ideas I picked up reading The Great Game of  Business, by Jack Stack.

To develop effective motivational strategies, you must know what you want people to achieve – and then decide how to motivate them. Remember, what motivates each individual will be different. Successful managers know that you have to be a pro at seeing inside each person on the team, without personal bias.

But one of the best ways to motivate employees to achieve superior performance is to:


Motivation that endures does not come from short term, external incentives. The strongest from of motivation is self-motivation, and comes from within. Successfully motivating people from various departments to work toward common goals such as increased sales, growth targets, expense budgets, and company profits will be a challenge. In order to be successful, you will need to educate your employees, engage employees by getting them involved in the planning process, empower employees by granting them decision making power as to how best to achieve the goals, develop a set of financial numbers as targets, develop a reward program that ties into the target numbers, and establish communication standards that keeps everyone well informed.

Step #1 Educate. Keeping people in the dark accomplishes nothing. The more information you share with people, the more successful they will be. Since the game of business is all about the numbers, start with teaching people what the company must do successfully to generate more income, the basics of your profit and loss statement, and how their actions affect the financial numbers. Employees will never get it until you have educated them on your financial statements and they truly understand what actions they must take to create bottom line growth.

Step #2  Engage. People act on their own ideas. If you hope to develop employees who are motivated to act toward common goals, you must engage them in the planning process. Lead by charting the goals and then engage your employees by sincerely listening to their ideas as how to best accomplish those goals. If you don’t allow opportunities for your employees to be heard, they will not rally around company goals.

Step #3 Empower. It is important to empower employees by placing responsibility and ownership back into their hands. The employees will adopt an ownership attitude when you engage them to express their ideas and empower them to act on their ideas. Let the employee decide the most productive path to accomplish the objective. It is the freedom of creative thought, sense of responsibility, and empowerment that generates rewarding feelings and superior performance.

Step #4 Reward. Every company has a critical number that must be met to ensure a profit. Determine yours. Once the company knows its target, the individual needs one, too. Whenever possible, each person needs some type of target number that measures his or her performance and how that number contributes to the company’s targets. Next, establish financial rewards tied to achieving the target numbers.

Step #5 Inform. It is imperative for the employee to be routinely informed as to how the company is doing financially. Are the company’s critical numbers being met? Is the company hitting its target profits? Is the employee achieving his or her target numbers? You must supply continuous information to keep the employee informed; how else are you going to be able to evaluate individual performance? You cannot motivate people to perform if you keep them in the dark. To be motivated to win, employees must be well informed.

The best way to motivate employees is to  build a company of people educated about the numbers, who are part of the decision-making process, who are empowered to accomplish specific targets, who are kept informed on a monthly basis and are rewarded financially for achieving  their target numbers, and will work as a team motivated toward profit.

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