Employee motivation: How to properly increase it?

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We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle

Among many important topics about retention of the employees as well as the engagement towards them is undoubtedly the question on how to keep them motivated enough and beyond to be as much productive as they can. As if finding the right and top talent wasn’t the challenge just by itself, it’s increasingly becoming more and more difficult to keep an average employee motivated enough to work with their full capacity. Enter Karl, a top talent employee with superb performance in a virus software company, whose motivation keeps declining as the time goes by. He’s an account manager who does daily business development attaining new customers and actively providing customer service to a range of clients with relative ease. His performance numbers are something to brag about and there’s little Karl can do in his current job description. He reached the peak of his current job responsibility and he doesn’t have any more room to grow. He’s not actively communicating this to his line manager but the change is fairly visible in his behavior. In layman’s terms, he’s getting bored with his job and there’s a chance he might look elsewhere to spark up his professional motivation.

What can a line manager do in such a predicament? Should they just leave their employee to the emotion and future circumstances? Now, this kind of situation is more than prevalent in today’s companies and it’s only a sign for the managers to take action sooner than later in order to keep that talent within that company and potentially groom it to become something much more in the future.

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Employees expect to be motivated

Effective management styles

The first thing any manager can do is check their management style towards the employee in question. They should measure their performance by their KPIs or 360 degree questions, for example, to see the employee’s overall status or view on everything concerning them. Since our example employee Karl is a high performer, he’s someone who needs more to work with in order to keep his motivation going forward. With high performers, you usually give them a job enlargement or some kind of autonomy for them to get a sense of progression in their work. This is really important because even a tiny change in the work routine of an employee can spark that motivation right back up. Let’s say Karl was a low performer by the evaluation results, you would then have to recalibrate your managerial style towards them. Karl would need a lot more attention in terms of guidance, coaching and overall communication to keep his motivation as high as possible.

Important thing to note here is career progression opportunities within the companies. It’s imperative to have them structured and in place if they want to get the best out of their employees. Knowing what’s possible to achieve and in a rough estimate of a time period will greatly influence on how actively an employee is engaged and even interested in their future within a particular company. An employee should have that communicated so they can start working towards a set goal from the first day on the job. Along with a progressive motivation, you will also get an impeccable performance. All that is magnified with a quality and frequent communication style which brings us to the fact that…

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Manager’s responsibility to keep motivation high

…Feedback is Golden

This isn’t anything new. Feedback in everything is the mother of learning and should be incorporated wherever possible. We could assume that Karl, despite being a high performer, more often than not was in the dark if we’re talking about quality feedback. Sure, his KPI numbers show how well he performs but that’s nothing if his manager doesn’t recognize his results in vocal communication. Having analytics about someone’s performance is only the technical aspect of an evaluation but that’s only one side of the motivation coin. On the flip side, an average employee expects to be recognized when recognition is due by their superior. It’s what keeps them going beyond themselves. It’s in our human nature to seek guidance and cling to an approval by a higher authority to prove our worth. Every manager should know that and incorporate it to their management style if they want a top performance team without needing to worry too much about keeping retention. At the very least, a manager should pick a period of time in which he absolutely knows the state of mind of his employees, monthly or even weekly, just to keep up and act accordingly.

It’s amazing how the human factor plays a lot of the time a significant role in the business success. It’s not to say that every manager should automatically be a psychologist to help their employees but sometimes, just a listening ear can help tremendously in the ways we can’t comprehend.


Monitoring employees’ motivation level should be one of the top priorities in companies today. The business is becoming more and more fast-paced and managers shouldn’t lose the sight of their employees’ state of mind in terms of business and their personal growth. At the end of the day, if an employee is happy and they grow, the business itself will have no choice but to grow. If you have any more ideas or simply an opinion on the matter, please do let me know in the comments!

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