Traditionally at this time of year organisations will be beginning to prepare for the often dreaded ‘annual performance review’ process.

One critical mistake made by employers during any review process is the perception everyone is motivated by financial reward. It may seem that giving perks (like paying annual bonuses, awarding free travel and giving time off) will motivate team members, but research actually shows otherwise. While these rewards may cause a short-term burst of productivity, they also lead to de-motivation in the longer term.

A major challenge for any employer is to maintain team member motivation and identify individual drivers for their motivation.

An understanding of the applied psychology within a workplace (known as organisational behaviour), can help achieve a highly motivated team.

How to Motivate Team Members?

Often organisations create big processes on how they will motivate their team members. What they don’t understand is team member motivation is an emotional thing. There cannot be a process to it. If there were a process, then it would be taught in Universities and everyone would be motivated all the time.

Team member motivation requires an investigative approach – It can only be achieved through adequate compassion and observance of a team member’s aptitude and mood. There is no exact formula to motivate any particular group of people. Everyone is motivated by different things. So one must experiment with what motivates individual team members and what does not.

Still, there are some key concepts to keep in mind…

  • Motivating yourself first: It is difficult to inspire others if you do not feel inspired. Enthusiasm is contagious. So first try to discover what motivates you and then you will be able to motivate others.
  • Align team members with the organisation’s goals: Employees feel motivated if they believe they are part of a bigger picture, and that bigger picture isn’t complete without them. For this, make them understand how their work is important to achieve the organisation’s goal/s.
  • Go beyond the materialistic world: Think about all the billions of dollars of computer software that is available for free online. Who is developing it? What motivates them to give away software for free? On similar lines, employees should know and believe that they are working for a target goal (like empowering other people) rather than earning money and making profits.
  • Make it fun to work: It is human nature to get bored of doing the same thing again and again. Bring some variety into the tasks assigned to team members. Offer them sufficient space to research, create and innovate things on their own.
  • Give Recognition: Who doesn’t love to be recognised by others? It is important to genuinely appreciate the accomplishments of team members. And no – bonuses may not do the trick. Sometimes, a simple pat in the back can do wonders.
  • Have a Corporate Culture: It is extremely important to have a great corporate culture that people can associate themselves with. It gives them an identity. It gives them a brand.

As you’re working through your organisation’s performance review process ensure you consider the key concepts of team member motivation. Don’t fall into the trap of simply handing out pay rises, without considering the drivers for each individual’s motivation.

The time and effort you put into determining each team member’s motivational drivers will, in the long term, outweigh the short term productivity burst often linked to financial rewards. Remember, team member motivation is key to the overall effectiveness and success of any organisation.

Happy Review Period!


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