Using Motivational Skills in the Workplace

Smiling colleagues with laptop and notepad working together at desk in office
Photo: Westend61 / Getty Images

Successfully motivating others is an important skill that you'll want to point out to potential employers. Employees can use motivation skills to increase their chances of getting positive results when interfacing with customers, subordinates, upper management, suppliers, donors, team members, funding sources and supervisors. For managers, who must inspire a whole team, the ability to motivate is usually a requirement.  

What Are Motivational Skills?

Motivational skills can be defined as actions or strategies that elicit a desired behavior or response from a stakeholder. These strategies and actions vary based on three major factors: 

  1. The motivator's style 
  2. The target audience 
  3. The personality of the person the motivator seeks to influence

Steps in the Motivational Process

Motivation is a process that requires careful strategy for success. These steps can help you to reach the desired outcome:

  1. Assess the preferences and personality characteristics of the individual or group to be motivated. What motivates one group of people might not be the same as what motivates another group of people. 
  2. Define motivational strategies appropriate for that target.
  3. Convey expectations for performance from the object of the motivation. Or, make it clear how the person can achieve the desired outcome.
  4. Communicate benefits, rewards, or sanctions if expectations are or are not met.
  5. Share feedback on progress or lack of progress toward desired outcomes.
  6. Address problems or obstacles that are limiting success.
  7. Provide rewards for desired outcomes.
  8. Issue warnings before enacting sanctions.
  9. Recognize people who have responded in the desired manner.

Examples of Motivation

Motivationcan be used in many different ways to elicit a positive result. Examples of how motivation can be used in the workplace include:

  • Allocating professional development resources to the most motivated staff
  • Allowing team members personal problem-solving autonomy instead of micromanaging the team
  • Asking for input regarding departmental objectives
  • Assigning desirable projects to staff who are highly engaged
  • Awarding a performance-based bonus or salary increase to employees who achieve the right results
  • Being open to discussing, in a constructive and non-judgmental manner, employee concerns
  • Continually noticing the contributions of staff and conveying appreciation
  • Creating a pleasant and ergonomic workplace for your team members
  • Drafting a budget proposal for additional staff to management that emphasizes how revenues would be enhanced
  • Empowering staff to choose the way in which they will address goals whenever possible
  • Focusing on ways to learn from rather than punishing mistakes
  • Giving to office collections to support favorite staff charities, celebrate birthdays, or sympathize with personal family loss
  • Helping to build bridges across staff and management levels to heighten interconnectedness, foster collaboration, and build a shared sense of mission 
  • Implementing a public tally board to record comparative sales by different members of the sales team
  • Identifying and acknowledging the unique talents and contributions of team members
  • Joining informal “water cooler” discussions to gain an understanding of staff interests and personalities
  •  Keenly assessing the interest of staff in various tasks and projects
  • Launching voluntary health and wellness programs
  • Limiting the length of staff meetings by sticking to a strict agenda and concluding discussions quickly
  • Meeting with a subordinate to set performance goals
  • Mentioning positive aspects of your supervisor's leadership approach to her superior at an informal gathering
  • Mentoring new personnel in an engaging and supportive fashion
  • Noticing and quietly thanking peers for unsolicited acts of both project/work initiative and of interpersonal kindness
  • Offering to support colleagues or subordinates who are under stress
  • Providing in-person testimonials by potential beneficiaries at a presentation to a grant funding organization
  • Quarterly implementing team-building workshops to increase collaboration, mutual respect, and project ownership
  • Recognizing the contributions of key donors in public communications
  • Sending a note to an IT staff member's supervisor after she helped with a successful implementation
  • Taking a strong departmental contributor to lunch and thanking them for their efforts
  • Thanking a supervisor for their support
  • Utilizing rising technologies to streamline work processes, increase efficiency, and reduce caseloads
  • Validating the individual progress of your subordinates in assuming greater levels of responsibility
  • Warning a subordinate of the consequences for continued lateness
  • Writing a LinkedIn recommendation for a helpful business partner
  • Examining your own personal communications and work style to identify better ways to motivate others and lead by example
  • Yielding control, and ownership, of various project stages to subordinates or colleagues who deserve the opportunity to lead others
  • Zeroing in on opportunities to increase staff engagement and accountability

Motivation is an important skill that can bring you positive results. If motivating others is one of your key strengths, then this is a skill that you want to make known to employers, as it can lead to growth for both you and the company.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles