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The Eternal Question...

How can I motivate my employees?
©1999 Claire Belilos
CHIC Hospitality Consulting Services

More tips in forthcoming book on Employee Motivation - List yourself here to be advised when the book is ready
Terms: For reading only. Not to be sold, reprinted,re-written, distributed, re-broadcast, uploaded, or used to conduct training by others without written agreement 

How can I motivate employees? The answer is not so simple. Motivation comes from within, from a person's own psyche, the innermost recesses of the soul, secret desires and deep-rooted needs which motivate, "push" us towards their satisfaction.  What a manager can do is create an environment in which employees can feel motivated.
Many people go through life obscuring their intrinsic nature,  unaware of their "true calling", their  "motivations".   People abandoned early dreams to deal with life's realities and vicissitudes.   They had to conform to society, family, the corporate world and other circles, each of which  dictates its code of conduct: how to think, feel, eat, speak, behave and dress.   Their true selves disappear, get buried.  It is only by triggering and bringing out into the light people's intrinsic nature, gifts and secret desires that we give them the opportunity to feel motivated.   This is no attempt at playing the psychologist, but a rough explanation of some basic precepts.

However deep and complex human nature is, all humans share basic needs that must be addressed, ranging from shelter to more sophisticated drives.  In his hierarchy of needs, Abraham Maslow shows the gradual escalation of workers' drives and motivations in this pyramid:  





Social Needs

Safety Needs

Physiological Needs


Applied to workers, it translates as follows:

Physiological Needs

     Basic physical needs:  the ability to acquire food, shelter, clothing and other basics to survive

Safety Needs

     A safe and non-threatening work environment, job security, safe equipment and installations

Social Needs

     Contact and friendship with fellow-workers, social activities and opportunities


     Recognition, acknowledgment, rewards


     Realizing one's dreams, using one's gifts, talents and potential.

Once basic needs are satisfied, people want more.  Progress is the essence of human nature.   When people's basic needs are addressed, their mind and soul, free of threat and insecurity, open up to some of their innermost drives. People are often confused between "superficial wants" and "inner drives." Some individuals are in pursuit of material luxury, while others pursue their thirst for knowledge, artistic expression, a need to lead or help others, play the hero or shine in society.  

We cannot play the role of psychologists or psychoanalysts.  However, it benefits the company if we discover who every worker is, his/her drives, special gifts, abilities, hopes and plans for the future.  If we take time to discover this, understand what makes this person "tick", we will be able to utilize this worker in the position which is the best "fit", a step ahead towards employee motivation.   We must also clarify management values, design and implement effective policies  and techniques.

Every employee has a need for self-expression, entertains plans for professional development and  career advancement, wishes to be accepted as "family member", feel respect towards management and pride in his/her work, receive acknowledgment and reward, be listened to and trusted. Through strategic communications (including meetings) our duty is to share with employees company goals, market, industry and business information and future plans, and invite employees to give feedback.   We must learn how to place people in a role where they can use their abilities and make progress towards the realization of personal goals.  Misplacements can cause a company substantial financial loss due to turnover, accidents, lawsuits, rebates, refunds, loss of customers and sales.

We must learn how to create a corporate culture and a supportive work environment.  This is done through leadership and management excellence, a human approach, effective human resources strategies, "positive discipline", fair and just treatment to all, clearly defined policies, career and personal development training programs (including cross-training and job rotation), career pathing, organizational communications, tools to facilitate communication, team assignments, reward programs, objective appraisals, adequate pay, benefits and company activities.

It is important for employees to know that management is aware of their existence, recognizes them, remembers their names and greets them. Managers who fail to greet employees or respond to greetings lead to a high degree of de-motivation, lack of trust, and disloyalty.

Individuals and departments need to be thanked for their hard work and special feats and be rewarded for  contributions.  Managers who encourage employees to use initiative and set higher challenges for themselves achieve more positive results than those who cause employees to compete with each other. Personal accomplishments at the expense of others defeats team-work and negatively affects service to customers.   

Managers can win over employees' loyalty and best input by treating them as "partners", showing care, listening to them and sharing.   

Can this be easily accomplished?  When planned with sincerity and care, it most certainly can!  

Copyright © 1999 Claire Belilos

This article is not to be uploaded, sold or distributed in any form or manner without the author's written permission

Further articles on employee motivation at http://www.easytraining.com:

Understanding Employee Drives and Motivations
Beyond Training
Cross-Training as a Motivational and Problem-Solving Technique
Conducting Effective Employee Orientations
Managers and Supervisors Expected to Create a Motivated Team
and the famous article by the late Mr. James Lavenson, Hotelier,
Think Strawberries

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Claire Belilos, Chic Hospitality Consulting Services, Home page: http://www.easytraining.com, specializes in Hospitality, human resources strategies, organizational training and development, Customer Service and problem-solving. She offers "on site", online and distance consulting and coaching.  She creates job, training and evaluation tools, and custom-tailored solutions to people management problems.  

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