Four Types of Motivators that Unlock Employee Engagement

Understanding why different people are motivated in various ways at work is crucial because it directly impacts how engaged, productive, and satisfied they are. When someone feels motivated and fulfilled in their role, they are more likely to put in the extra effort to contribute to the team’s success. In this blog post, we will talk about four types of motivators that unlock employee engagement.

Think about it this way: when you know what drives each person on your team, you can tailor your approach to inspire and support them better. For example, if one team member thrives on challenges and goals, setting them ambitious targets and recognizing their achievements can keep them motivated and eager to tackle new projects. On the other hand, someone else might be more motivated by the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues and make a difference together. For them, fostering a sense of teamwork and appreciation can be the key to keeping them engaged and committed.

Sounds simple – is it?

The tricky part is sometimes it is hard to determine what motivates people. As we are about to see, motivators can vary.   I was working one time with a team and the key motivator for one team member was doing inventory. Who would have thought?

Achievement motivators can unlock potential

I personally thrive on a good challenge. There’s something invigorating about diving headfirst into a problem, flexing my problem-solving muscles, and letting my creativity run wild. I like to call this drive “achievement motivation.” It’s what keeps me on my toes, pushing me to reach new goals and exceed my own expectations.

And I’m not alone in this sentiment—take Alex, for example. He’s a software developer who shares my passion for tackling complex challenges head-on. For Alex, solving problems isn’t just a job—it’s a calling. He’s driven by the thrill of unraveling intricate puzzles and pushing the boundaries of his technical expertise. Whether it’s mastering a new programming language or tackling a daunting coding project, Alex sets ambitious goals for himself and pursues them with unwavering determination. And when he finally cracks the code or completes a challenging project, the sense of accomplishment he feels is unparalleled. It’s this relentless pursuit of excellence that fuels Alex’s drive and keeps him motivated to continue pushing the envelope in his field.

Intrinsic motivators – it comes from within

Sarah, a graphics designer, could be more intrinsically motivated and finds immense joy in bringing her creative ideas to life through her designs. She feels a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfillment every time she completes a project, knowing that her work has the potential to inspire others. She often loses track of time as she immerses herself in her projects.

For Sarah, it’s not just about meeting deadlines or impressing clients—it’s about the sheer pleasure of creating something beautiful and meaningful. When she finally completes a project, Sarah experiences a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, knowing that her work has the potential to inspire others and make a positive impact. It’s this intrinsic motivation that drives Sarah to constantly push the boundaries of her creativity, seeking out new challenges and opportunities for self-expression.

For her, the true reward lies not in external recognition or rewards, but in the sheer joy of creating something that resonates with others.

Extrinsic motivators — what about money?

James, a sales executive may be motivated extrinsically and wants top commissions and works hard to achieve them. He sets ambitious sales targets for himself each month, driven by the desire to achieve financial rewards and recognition for his achievements.

For him, success isn’t just about meeting quotas—it’s about surpassing them. His motivator is reaping the tangible rewards that come with it.

Social motivators — a lot about relationships

On the other hand, some staff are socially motivated. For example, Maya, a project manager, thrives on building strong relationships with her team members and fostering a sense of camaraderie within her project team. She enjoys collaborating with her colleagues, offering support and encouragement, and celebrating shared successes together.

In my experience of talking to hundreds of employees, a lot of them are motivated in this way. The good news is that it is achievable for managers and does not break the bank – all it takes is time and commitment. Things like checking in regularly on staff, asking what challenges them, and offering support can go a long way.

Is it worth the time and commitment?

Recognizing and addressing individual motivations can lead to higher levels of employee engagement and productivity. When employees feel motivated and fulfilled in their work, they are more likely to invest their time and energy into achieving organizational goals.

Not only does understanding individual motivations lead to happier and more fulfilled employees, but it also helps with talent management. When organizations invest in aligning their goals and opportunities with what motivates their employees, they are more likely to attract and retain top talent. After all, who would not want to work for a company that values and supports their individual growth and success?

Understanding the four types of motivators that unlock employee engagement enables organizations to create a more engaging and high-performing work environment that benefits both employees and the organization as a whole.

Want a Shortcut to Unlocking Your Employee’s Motivators?

If you want a short-cut to figuring out what motivates your different employees, join us for the DiSC (R) for Managers training.

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Lisette Jones

For the past eleven years as a consultant and trainer and certified coach practitioner, I've helped hundreds of people just like you overcome chaotic or challenging situations and experience productivity, and engagement. I have experience in many industries and levels of management through my work as a Workplace Education Instructor and Organizational Needs Assessment Consultant trained through the Department of Labour, Skills, and Immigration.

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