4 Types of Motivation You Should Know About as A Manager

Find out how to make your team happier.

Photo by Eric Sanman from Pexels



How are you today? Are you full of energy and feeling like rocking the world? Or are you lazy and demotivated?

Every day is a bit different. Motivation has a huge influence on your day.

Motivation is a drive. Drive that makes you get up from the bed and work your ass off. Motivation influence everything you do. What you study, what relationships you have, or what aspirations you want to achieve.

Motivation should not be underestimated. Yet, it is often lost in management conversations.

Do you know what motivates your team? From the top of your head. No cheating!

When I worked in management, I focused on motivation a lot. It really helps to understand what people want. You only need to know what motivates them. Luckily for you, there are three main things to consider.


1. Money

I don’t like talking about money. But it has rightfully its place in motivation consideration. Money helps your team to live the way they wish. Money fulfills their basic needs. Remember Maslow’s pyramid? The base consists of physiological needs like:

  • Hunger: getting food

  • Thirst: getting a drink

  • Place: getting a flat

  • Cold: getting clothes

  • Reproduction: getting a partner

Money can help with all these. (Yes, even getting you a partner 😜) A salary is helping to maintain a certain standard of living.

What happens when your team member is not happy with his salary. Many are not as they feel they should be valued more.

The problem is a comparison.

People compare them to others. If they feel they work more, they should get more money. It’s their sense of fairness.

When it comes to money, people want to be treated fairly.

So, be mindful. They are not working in limbo. They know who is earning what.

I had this situation: one of my managers was earning almost the same money as one of my specialists with years of experience. Yet, the manager had a team to lead. So, she felt she should earn more. I spoke with her sensitively about it and point out fair reasons why it was like that.

You need to actively speak with your teams about money. It is an annoying topic in management. But it is inevitable. You have the power to make people happy about what they are earning. You can even get some extra budget if you want to appreciate them a bit more. Do it anytime you can as many take money very seriously.

There is one huge BUT.

This but is that money has only temporary character. You can increase your team’s salaries, but people leave anyway. Money is a huge motivation. Yet, money is not the only motivation. Keep that in mind.

2. Avoidance of Punishment

Yesterday at 10 pm, my husband realized he forgot to send an email to a client. To avoid the client’s complaining the next day, he went back online and sent it.

What was his motivation to work late? To avoid a problem. This is a very strong motivation to consider. We do things to avoid punishment. Punishment has many types:

  • Stress

  • Unpleasant conversations

  • Complains

  • Fines

  • Working late

  • Anger

  • Gossip

  • Conflicts

You don’t want these. So, you work to avoid them. You meet every single deadline. You agree to do stupid tasks just to avoid conflict. You are on time with your tax form to avoid a fine from the tax buro.

You have set goals with individuals up. They feel they have to achieve them. Otherwise, they might not get a promotion or they get a bad performance evaluation.

Punishment is huge. Punishment prevents people from doing what they love. You wish to put in place an innovation, but you fear people might laugh at you.

So, you have to understand why people work. Do they work for a reward (e.g., money, promotion, status, grades)? Or perhaps to avoid punishment (e.g., friends call them lazy if they don’t have any job)?

Understand why they are doing what they are doing.

Don’t take it badly if your team works for money and to avoid problems. It’s fine. Surprisingly, many people work for that. It does not mean they won’t perform well. They will. These are underrated employees. They can be very loyal and stable. Value them well.

3. Joy & Challenges

This area of motivation was added quite late. Researchers explored it in the early 20th century, but it got more attention only in the 70s. One would say it is a pretty long time to establish it as part of the motivation package. Well, not really.

We are in 2022. Many still don’t consider this type of motivation for their hiring requirements and people management. Ehm, what? Yes, that’s right.


Corporate companies do it all wrong.


They have a ladder of titles and bits of money. Yet, they completely miss this third motivational pillar. It is:

People are motivated to perform when they are interested in a task and find it enjoyable. They like being challenged.

Oh my god. It is logical, no? So, why do so many people hate their jobs?

They are not interested in it. They don’t find it fun or challenging. Now, be a good manager and find out why. From my experience, it can be:

  • They don't understand the strategy and how their work contributes to it.

  • They feel they do a monkey job.

  • They don’t feel they achieve anything. They don’t see any results in their work.

  • They don’t have time to do things they like (e.g., process audit, innovation, training, etc.)

  • The company culture is toxic.

  • Their role description is not clear.

  • They don’t know what they can improve.

  • They don’t see any career possibilities.

  • The teams/clients are difficult to work with.

There are millions of reasons why people are not happy at work. But the lack of interest and joy are prominent in any office job. It is time for you to explore why your team does not find the work interesting or enjoyable. You can help them.

‘Why’ is your superpower

. Listen to your teams and find out their motivations.

Understanding is an essential management task.

When you know why people work the way they do, or what they find interesting, you can motivate them so much more. Don’t just sit around. Be active.

Motivation is a motor. So, use it in your team’s favor.


4. Relationships

Positive psychology wrote:

Social interaction and positive relationships are important for various attitudinal, wellbeing, and performance-related outcomes. Basford and Offermann (2012) found that employees in both low- and high-status positions reported higher levels of motivation when interpersonal relationships with coworkers were good.


Relationships play a huge role in motivation. Consider relationships between managers and employees, between teams, clients, suppliers, etc.


We can't choose with whom we work, but the interactions can be supportive, positive, and understanding. That's what you can drive in your behavior and in your team. What you can set as core values.


One tip for you - make sure people have enough time to talk at work.


Foster informal interactions, coffee breaks, and team events. Without talking they can't get to know each other, without that they hardly build the level of relationships that influence job satisfaction. So, capacity management should consider that too.


Final pledge

Now I want you to pledge. Promise to yourself that you will always consider these four types of motivation.

You won’t do only reward & punishment, but you also explore intrinsic motivation. You want to find out what brings joy to work and how you can support it.

Aim to the point that you and your team look forward to working together. Have fun… and well… fair salaries.



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