10 Things That Motivate Better Than Money

Motivate - not money

When motivation is high, productivity and engagement are too!

Unfortunately, the reverse is also true: when motivation is low, productivity, engagement, and morale take a nose dive.

The similarities between leading and parenting are there. For example, have you ever noticed that the more you have going on, the more issues your children seem to have? They balk at getting chores done and there’s more bickering between siblings. Even little stuff become big stuff with lots of fussing and fuming. While children may not consciously recognize that something is missing, their behavior is revealing.

Do you think a few extra bucks would appease your children? Here’s $100 – I hope that makes you happy!

They may purchase something they desire and be happy for a minute, but before long the frustration returns.

Your children want to feel important, noticed, and valued, and when they don’t the counterproductive behaviors reappear.

The same is true for those you lead. They too want to feel important, noticed, and valued. And when they don’t, productivity, engagement, and morale suffer.

As a leader…

what’s got the bulk of your attention?  Be honest! Are you so focused on your goals and priorities and making things happen that you are oblivious to the goals and priorities of the people you lead/serve? If you aren’t focused on intentionally motivating your people, it’s going to cost you. You want to not only keep your high performers, but also attract high performers, and that won’t just happen.

What if you could energize your people in ways that didn’t center around money? It’s possible! Just keep in mind, that motivation is not a one size fits all kind of thing. That’s why it’s worth taking the time to find out exactly what’s important to those you lead. And to pay attention to what seems to suck the life out of your people as well.

Here are 10 amazing motivators that are NOT money:

1. Relationship

People want to be known and accepted…even in the work place. And when you genuinely care and invest in authentic relationship with your people, it makes a noticeable difference.

Now, relationships take effort, but think about it as investing now to save time later. As you get to really know your people beyond their skills, titles, and what they produce, you are able to see them differently. You begin to discover what actually matters to them – their values, interests, passions, and goals. That’s when they feel more understood and heard which is quite motivating!

What are you doing to intentionally nurture relationship with your people?

2. A Positive & Inspiring Culture

A great culture takes work and begins with trust. As the leader, you set the tone. You initiate culture, so what kind of culture are you initiating? If you were to ask your people, how would they describe the current culture? What kind of culture would be motivating to them? What needs to change to create a more positive and inspiring culture?

When it comes to culture, here’s some food for thought:

      • How safe is your environment? Safe enough for people to take risks, be creative, and/or make mistakes in order for better ideas to emerge?
      • When your people have crazy ideas or challenge your ideas, how willing are people to share?
      • How do your policies and procedures support the desired culture?
      • When something is unethical, how willing are people to speak up?
      • Is there a cooperative or a competitive vibe to your organization?
      • How normal is it to ask for feedback?
      • What’s the connection between the organization’s values and the culture?

Improving your culture isn’t an event, it’s an ongoing process that you don’t want to overlook.

3. Crystal Clear Expectations

You would be surprised at how often expectations are assumed or vague…even under your watch! You might be surprised at how communicating expectations more clearly motivates! People get excited when they know exactly what target they need to hit.

Many years ago, my husband completed a training project and gave it to his boss. No expectations had been set, so with fuzzy directions, my husband set out to do his best. When he handed in the project, all his boss had to say was, “like this, only better.”

Needless to say, my husband still had nothing of substance to go on, so, he switched up the cover, but changed nothing else. When he gave it back to his boss he was satisfied, but my husband was left with less than positive feelings.

I am certain that boss had no idea how frustrating or discouraging he was to my husband. And odds are good that your people aren’t telling you either!

4. Making Work Meaningful

It feels good to contribute to work that makes a difference and that benefits others. How are you helping your people to connect their contribution to the larger purpose and the benefits you provide? And how does that all fit in with their own perceived purpose in life?

5. Positive Affirmation

Words are more powerful than you might think. And for each negative, it takes five positives to compensate.

Not just any positive affirmation will do! No, you must be specific and heart felt in your positive feedback. To be able to do that, you have to be tuned in and paying attention! Much more on this here.

6. Flexibility

During the pandemic, flexibility was coaxed out of just about everyone in the work place. And guess what? We discovered some pretty unique ways to get the job done! As a result, now more than ever, people seek flexibility in their work because it is wildly motivating for many, myself included!

Some of the areas to consider being more flexible are…

      • Working remote
      • Working a hybrid of remote and in the office
      • Hours – rethink the 8-hour work day
      • Scheduling
      • Job sharing

When it comes to flexibility, what creative ideas do you have?

7. Bonding Experiences

Yes, opportunities to connect that are beyond regular work like…

      • Volunteering together – give back to your community
      • Enjoying the great outdoors – a hike, picnic or bike ride
      • Building something together
      • Updating the break room or lounge
      • Connecting across departments
      • Celebrating
      • Debriefing a project or crisis

What experiences would enable your people to connect in a deeper way?

8. Autonomy

People relish the chance to do a task in a way that suits them – it’s incredibly motivating. And your people may come up with creative new ways of getting tasks done that you wouldn’t think of. Autonomy also increases satisfaction and productivity too. While your way of getting a job done might work for you, it might not be the best way for your people to do it.

Thee prerequisites to autonomy: trust, clear expectations and communication, feedback, support and advice rather than micromanagement, and space to make mistakes and grow.

What would enable greater autonomy?

9. The Opportunity for Growth & Development

Facilitating your people’s growth is a win-win proposition. Not only do your people grow, but your organization benefits too. Knowing the career goals pf your people and how they intersect with the needs of the organization is essential. With that information, development opportunities are more obvious and may include…

      • Shadowing other leaders or those with other skills
      • Training – online or in person
      • Stretch assignments – specific projects that encourage growth
      • Conferences
      • Tuition reimbursement
      • Mentor programs
      • Cross training between departments
      • Assessments that increase awareness like DISC, Strength Finders, HBDI, (thinking preferences), 360°
      • Coaching – individual or group/team

What opportunities for growth and development are you offering? What opportunities do your people desire?

10. Supporting Their Goals

If you don’t know what the personal career goals of your people are, you won’t know how to support them. But if you take the time to understand their goals it not only communicates that you value them, it also affords you the chance to come alongside them and that’s incredibly motivating!

These days, it’s not just about money! It’s time to tune into what’s truly motivating to your people so that you can reduce turnover, retraining, and increase productivity, engagement, and job satisfaction too!

Even if your people do eventually move on to use the skills they’ve gained under your leadership, they won’t forget the positive experience they enjoyed while working with you! I promise you that’s a far better situation than lingering frustration and resentment.

Get a little creative – challenge yourself to motivate the people you lead in some fresh ways.

In your experience, what’s been motivating to you?

Marvae Eikanas

Marvae Eikanas is an author, entrepreneur, ICF certified coach, Career Direct Consultant, DISC consultant, and HBDI practitioner. She helps her coaching clients sharpen their skills, face their fears, eliminate funky mindsets, hone their habits, and cultivate clarity so they can THRIVE personally and professionally. Schedule a consultation with Marvae here.

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