4 Ways To Motivate Team Members

How do you motivate team members is always a question asked by good leaders. Leaders who care. The inverse of that is leaders who don’t care…don’t motivate. Their belief is team members get a paycheck, that should be motivation enough.

Having taught and coached thousands of leaders and entrepreneurs, I understand this line of thinking, but it will only get you the productivity the team member thinks they are getting paid for. It’s possible their opinion and yours differ.

At our EntreLeadership 1 Day event in Orlando, we answered some of the questions we received on Facebook. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get to all of them. Therefore I pulled one of the unanswered questions from Celeste Owens to discuss with you here:

I am a practice manager for a wonderful and generous employer! How do you keep employee’s motivated besides throwing more money at them? How do you get employee’s to realize how fortunate/blessed we are?

This is a great question with many answers. Here are just a few:

  • RecognitionThe most important part of motivation is understanding that people will duplicate what they are rewarded for. If I see you genuinely complimenting me on something I’ve done well, I’ll keep doing it in hopes to get another compliment. And while telling me is amazing, recognizing me in front of my peers, or better yet my family, goes a very long way in motivating me.
  • Vision Casting – Team members need to be motivated with vision and direction. If I have no clue where I’m going, I get in a rut. As I begin to see that there’s something exciting on the horizon, I become more inspired to keep working towards it. This is an ongoing process, by the way. Recast vision every 21 days or the vision is dying.
  • Big Picture – It’s considerably easier for an entrepreneur to be more motivated than a team member. Entrepreneurs have the risk/reward thing going on of growing a business that belongs to them. Team members, not so much. One of the biggest motivators is working for something that is bigger than me. Don’t let a car mechanic think that all they do is turn a wrench. Let them know they have the opportunity to change the life of someone who is currently not happy. Make sure customer service reps understand how they are bettering lives by helping them with their problems.
  • Reminders – Some team members also need to be remind of just how good they have it. It is perfectly fine to share with the team what separates your company from the rest. However, if you do the other motivators correctly, they will come to realize how fortunate they are on their own. Understand that it is a process that will take some time, sooooo keep telling them until they get it.

These are just a few ways of getting and keeping team members motivated. Add to the mix the things that would have motivated you when you were in their shoes.

Question: What ways do you motivate your team besides just compensation?



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Meet Chris LoCurto


Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.

61 thoughts on “4 Ways To Motivate Team Members”

  1. Chris,
    I don’t have a team to motivate, but these same principals can be applied to motivating clients through a long-term project or contract. It’s pretty easy for a client to loose focus on the vision, feel frustrated on their performance, or even forget, all together, why they hired you or the benefit they will see in the end.

    Great post Chris!
    David R.

  2. Great post! This is such a great question because most people complain about all the things that are going wrong in their organization. When you have a great leader and a great organization there is a feeling of “it can’t get better than this”, and of course it can.

    It’s great when you think that you’ve reached a great goal and get excited about a bigger and better one. Teams and organizations will stay motivated if they dream big.

    Also, I’ve been listening to a great audiobook: “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” by Gary Chapman and Paul White. Many great ideas on how to identify the right way to acknowledge and motivate your team.

    Happy Monday!!!

  3. Chris,
    I’m not in a leadership role (yet) where I can officially do any of the things from your list (great list by the way). However, as a former leader coming to a new company I do recognize people as, a peer, whenever I get the chance, and copy their leader. It’s really a win for everyone. The recipient knowing I used to be a leader obviously appreciates the kind words, but the manager appreciates someone saying the things they haven’t made time for.
    I find sometimes the cheapest praises are the most effective as your list indicates. Last week I bought Root Beer Floats for our company of 40 people. It’s amazing how $25 worth of childhood treats can change the mood for several days.
    Happy Monday, make it a good one!

  4. As a leader, I believe demonstrating love from beginning to end plays a big role in motivating success. And there is one particular part of being a leader that I believe some individuals overlook: How a leader treats an employee who leaves the company has a great impact on how the other employees will see him as a leader going forward. My attitude is: “If you don’t like working here, I understand. I’ve been in your shoes. I’ve worked at places that didn’t inspire me to be my best. Everyone has to find meaningful work and I realize what this company offers will not fit everyone’s needs. Therefore, if you’re unhappy and need help or guidance in pursuing a new career, my door is open. If I feel you’re discouraged and your work is suffering, I’ll probably talk to you about exploring new opportunities and will help you develop a plan of action. When I tell you that I want you to succeed, I meant it. Even if it’s not with this company.” *I believe a great leader creates successful lives, not just successful employees…

    1. Great comment, Chadrick! Last year one of my very best employees resigned to go into a different field of work – I was heartsick – she was awesome! But I told her I totally understood and I wanted her to find the work that inspired her. Well, as it turns out – it WASN’T what she thought it would be and she just came back to work for me! I did not want to close any doors when she left – and I truly wanted what was best for HER not just what was best for me (which would have been for her to stay!) Now it has worked and she is more loyal than ever and appreciates the freedom I gave her to explore other avenues for a while.

  5. I think the reminder part is the big one I’ve noticed. I think often we’re good at stating vision – maybe in a training session or in a meeting somewhere. The vision hangs in our mind (because we’re the leaders), but the team loses it. They need to be intentionally reminded again and again and again.

    1. Amen Loren!! One of my weaknesses is thinking everyone knows what’s going in in my head. That makes being intentional to recast the vision that much more important! Great input!

  6. In order to be effective at motivating team members: you have to be watching them, when they think you are not. You have to be listening, when they think you are not. You have to be intune with what is producing the results you are seeing right here and now. You have to be open with them about you, even when they are not about them. These are the ways I try to work with my own team and with my clients team.

    When it was year end and they were all stressed, I bought everyone lunch. I am not their employer, they were incredulous, like “No, Misty, you don’t have to do that!”. I said, “Sure I do. You have been working hard, you are exhausted and you need a treat for your efforts. You need to know that I care and that it matters.” Two weeks later, I sent them a gift card in the mail, right after the Holidays, right after the 1st of the year when our industry went through HORRIFIC changes and we were working and getting nowhere, money wasn’t coming in, the boss was beyond stressed, everyone was wore out and we couldn’t get resolution to our issues. They needed to know that I appreciated their teamwork and to keep it up. I have repeated these things along with emails, video clips, personal notes addressed to each of them, personal cards addressed to each of them, a chocolate stash, cards sent to the whole group with motivational quotes and messages, etc. These things motivate people to keep on, especially when they are loosing sight of the big picture. Your support for them, when the going get tough is how they know you really care. It was going to be an uphill battle…and it took us 3 months to get through it and I needed them just as much as my client did. I aim to treat my clients employees just as if they were my own.

      1. When can you start? I just had an employee give me notice and this week is her last week! Just when I was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am frustrated. Okay, enough of that. When can you start? I need more good employees!!! 🙂

        1. Well, as much as I like chocolate – and it sounds like you are an incredible employer – I guess I need to stick around for my people. And remember to buy THEM chocolate!

          Oh and I know EXACTLY how you feel – just when you think you have your “dream team” – it turns into a nightmare because 1 or 2 leave! (I had one give me notice today!)

          Sounds like you have the wisdom to handle tough challenges, though – so, I’m sure you will come through the tunnel better than ever.

    1. Misty, i love your comment on what you do for your team, and it;s obvious, you given it a lot of thought. My question is how did you come to the conclusion this works. I’m curious about your thought process, whether this was trial and error kind of situation, or just instant inpiration.

  7. Similar to what Chadrick said, I think leaders working to really get to know their team members is a great motivator. Anytime a leader shows they “get me” or “understands me” is a win and makes me want to perform for them. If a leader is all business all the time and takes little genuine interest in me, you’ll probably get less out of me simply because we don’t click. It’s a human thing, not a work thing.

  8. We take the team to a sportsmans club and let out our frustrations shooting clay targets for a day twice a year. Even the ladies have enjoyed it! Nothing is better for reliving stress than the BOOM of a shotgun!

  9. A sincere greeting at the beginning of the work day followed up by how is your day going and at the end of the day thanking them for their work that day is a simple process that pays great benefits in great morale. Have a great day!

    1. Great stuff Doug! It’s amazing how motivating it is when you just TALK to your team. I equate it this way, they are checking your temperature the moment you walk in the door. If you swing by and say hi, it’s going to be a good day. If you bolt straight to your office and shut the door, not so much.

      1. Even better, when you call them by name. I once worked for this manager, who never failed to say good morning to me, but for whatever reason, he could never get my name right and kept calling Joanne (my best friend at work).

        After correcting him once or twice, i gave up, and i used to wonder, whether he really noticed me or was just going through the motions.

  10. Chris! Some of the ways one can motivate the team besides just compensation:
    — Providing effective recognition for others’ wchievement
    — Embracing the value of diversity in people and recognizing the value of diverse views and opinions
    — Effectively involving people in decision making
    — Treating people with dignity
    — Asking people what they need to do their work better
    — Avoiding micro-management and giving people the freedom they need to do their job well
    — Genuinely listening to others

    1. Being involved in the decision making process, tells me the person cares enough about me, and really thinks my opinion counts. It’s a great way of recognition and a great motivator.

  11. I motivate my drawing students in multiple ways.

    1. Both public and private praise for their accomplishments
    2. Show them several ways to attack difficult areas so they can choose the one that suits them best and then feel as if it is THEIR style and THEIR accomplishment
    3. Cover the incomplete part of their drawings and let them see only the completed part so they can imagine it is finished
    4. Encourage them to think about and look forward to their next drawings
    5. Occasionally host a show so they have something big to work toward.
    6. Ask why they are taking lessons so we can be sure to pick a route that moves them toward their personal art goals (and so they will remember they do have a goal!)

    If I don’t keep them motivated, then they’ll quit and I’ll lose the most reliable source of my own income. That keeps me motivated!

  12. I think showing your team there is nothing you would ask them to do that you wouldn’t do yourself has been a good way to motivate my team, in addition to the examples you gave above.

    It shows them that you understand what it is that you’re asking of them, you’re not just someone who barks out orders.

    I’ve found it to be a morale booster when you jump into the “thick of it” with the rest of the group.

    Also, pizza helps!

  13. I am reading Drive by Daniel H. Pink, and he is rocking my world. The importance of autonomy for team members meshes with your “big picture” concept…I think.
    My responsibility is to share my vision, and I must give my team the the space to define what that looks like. The “if you do this, then I’ll give you that” is restricting, oftentimes.

  14. A couple of weeks ago, I spent the afternoon with Jack Mitchell – the author of “Hug Your People” and it was obvious that he did that exactly! It was wonderful to watch how he loved his employees, they loved him, and they loved their customers (He also authored “Hug Your Customers”)

    Also a GREAT book that I just read was “Lead for God’s Sake” by Todd G. Gongwear, which was how to inspire your team to be the best. It was wonderful.

  15. Last week my team met – and we used many of the principles from Simon Sinek’s book “Start with Why”. It was great. Also, one of the challenges we have in our industry is that it is getting tougher and tougher with guidelines and regulations. Sometimes it can be discouraging.

    So…..because a majority of our clients are military – active military – I thought a video would be in order for this meeting. I I showed this one – and it put all of our troubles into perspective and inspired them to be their best – because these are their clients:


  16. Learn about the team members, by spending time with them, and find out what works for each of them and what motivates them as individuals. If the situation allows for it, tailor your motivators to that. It means a lot to me, if my leader has taken the time to know what my passions are, my life (not everything), but what makes me tick. Give me that kind of a leader, and i’ll follow him/her to the ends of the world.

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