For some, it was Trust.
“The biggest thing for me is trust. Like, you hired me or accepted a role as my manager because you thought I was good at the work. Let me do my thing and let me tell you when I need support. When an employer has established that they think I can do great work without their input, that's what makes me willing and excited to accept their feedback, even when it's negative.
If you need help motivating your employees, there's either a lack of trust on one or both sides or an extreme payroll discrepancy between the work being performed vs. market value. When I'm being fairly compensated and trust my manager to stay out of my way until I need their help, I motivate myself just fine.”
“The best way to motivate your team isn't to give them random gift cards that "everyone" would like. It's to show trust in them, understand them as people, and give them what you actually know they want, not what you suspect they want.”
For some, it was receiving appreciation with no strings attached.
“For me, it's always been the unexpected things where my boss recognizes my hard work and does something to show me they notice. Sure, salary/bonus is great but it also can be a given and often not as dependent on extra effort.
My boss saying "you work extra hard and I'll give you $1,000" would definitely motivate me but I appreciate more working extra hard and then my boss noticing it and rewarding me.”
“A few things in my career that stood out:
- Recently boss gave me an unexpected raise and increased bonus as recognition for my work — it was something I did not expect or ask for and it meant a lot more to me and it has grown my respect for my boss.
- Surprise "let's have lunch" as a team
- Letting us go home a few hours early on Fridays/before holidays
- Previous employer would randomly get gift cards for us
- Current employer once put together gift boxes with food/drinks and left them on all of our desks (it was a fun surprise walking into work one day and finding it)”
For some, it was feeling valued.
“My company offers a lot of incentives. I got $250 a few weeks ago. But I still will always appreciate the Starbucks boss, because I felt valued. I didn’t ever need a $15 gift card, but man it was nice. She also wrote hand written notes and regularly mailed them to us. She was the best boss I’ve ever had.”
For some, it was a sense of mission.
“I’m from a sales background and also enjoy big fat payouts.
But I recall how I unmotivated the entire team felt at an MNC where there was no sense of mission and our managers were grinding the entire team into the ground with insane layers of KPIs.
I also remember another business selling advertising. At some point I realised our product really wasn’t helping customers — and we were pressurised to mislead and even lie to them.
I lost motivation there and switched to SaaS — where I have a strong sense that I’m making a valuable contribution to society.”
“I also think a big thing is projects that inspire. Not everyone can walk into a company that inherently has them or can create that, but if you can start the baby steps in that direction, by the next year or so people will see a difference. Involving the team in that progression, with the right team, everyone will feel pretty proud and have a reason to "come in".”
For some, it was being equipped with the freedom and resources to experiment.
“Experiments budget per employee, carte blanche on the assignment. Unleash their creativity by creating a safe working space that encourages making mistakes to get to success. 8 of their contracted hours should be made available for this.
My team went from staff to entrepreneurs in a matter of weeks. They even host a recurring show and tell to share their findings now. Their own initiative!”
“Just enable people to be awesome on their own terms and they won't disappoint.”
What drives you as an employee?
Unless you know it, you will not know what kind of company culture will be the most conducive to letting your talents and skills flourish.
If you’re dissatisfied with your current workplace, or fully satisfied with it — it always helps to know the why behind feeling what you’re feeling. Once you have clarity, you can make your career decisions with confidence.
I’ll see you tomorrow.