The 4 Principles of Motivation: How Managers Can Increase Morale

Everyone knows that a happy employee is a productive employee.  As a manager, one of your responsibilities is to keep your team motivated. According to an Interact Study, the majority of U.S. employees list lack of manager appreciation as their top complaint. When managers recognize employees’ contribution, engagement increases by 60%. 

You will need to learn the best techniques to increase productivity and improve performance. If you can master the following four principles, your team will be successful. Not to mention, your boss will love the positive results! 


Every team member is different. The first step in motivation is to understand precisely what motivates each individual person. Some people are motivated by accomplishment while others are motivated by fear. Take some time to sit down and talk with each person. Find out what makes him or her tick.   

TALENTS: In Effective Delegation, we learned that each staff member has a unique set of skills. If you assign someone a task that they aren't equipped for, he or she will probably have some fears about tackling it. On the other hand, if you push your employees to challenge themselves with the skills they've already mastered, they'll be much more open to stepping out their comfort zones.

GOALS: Learn each person's career goals. What would they like to accomplish at their job? What is the ultimate path they want to take? Some might want to climb the corporate ladder. Others might want to learn certain skills that lead to other fields. Try to aid your staff on their professional journeys when possible.

LIVES: Work/Life balance is equally as important as productivity. They work hand-in-hand. Happy personal lives lead to increased productivity and vice versa. Without getting too personal, try to get a feel for what your employees have going outside of work. If your staff have children, medical conditions or long commutes, take these aspects into consideration. If you make an effort to compromise, your team will feel less stressed and more willing to stay productive.



In Management Communication Styles, we learned how important specific and communication can be. Encouraging an open, collaborative environment will reassure your employees that they are valued. They won't feel like just another cog in the wheel. 

TRUTH: Try to be as transparent as possible. Give your team insight into the background and development of projects. With your supervisor's permission, share profit reports and results from other departments. Make your team feel included in shaping the future of the company.

FEEDBACK: Giving feedback is one of the easiest ways to motivate your team. Always take the time to measure results. Make sure your praise or constructive criticism is based on fact. Your employees will appreciate you taking the time to notice their work. Feedback communicates to your staff that you value their contributions. They'll also be more dedicated to improvement, if they know what specifically needs to be changed.

AVAILABILITY: Make sure to communicate to your team that you are available. Designate specific times to hear their opinions and concerns. Employees are much more likely to comply if they feel their voices have been heard.


Staying positive even in times of crisis can be difficult. As a leader, it's your job to keep morale up even when you're having a bad day personally. In times of conflict and disagreement, keep the conversation focused on finding solutions. Focus on opportunities to grow as a team and always take time to celebrate wins.  

RECOGNITION: Everyone loves to hear "Job Well Done," but what boosts morale even more is feeling important. Make your team feel like they truly matter. Try to be specific and acknowledge even the smallest accomplishments. Your team is more likely to work harder if they know you'll notice and reward them for it.

SUPPORT: Your team members need to have someone they can rely on. When someone gets in trouble or makes a mistake, you should be there to help him or her. Employees should be able to come to you for guidance without judgement. Let them know that you have their backs.

RELIABILITY: Make an effort to be a role model for your staff. If you show up to work on time, get your work done and keep tasks on track, your team will be more likely to do the same. Don't be a hypocrite. You'll wind up with a group of rebellious and resentful employees.



The fourth motivation principle is a direct result of the first three. If you make an effort to understand your team, communicate with and encourage them, they will trust you. In Respectful Relationships, we learned that being friends with your staff members doesn't necessarily yield the best results. Your team members should respect your authority, even when they disagree with you. 

STRENGTH: Be confident in your own abilities and skills. Be courageous and step out of your comfort zone. If you show your staff that you're a fearless leader, they will be more likely to follow you in battle.

KNOWLEDGE: Try to stay up to date on current trends and technologies in your industry. Be open to more efficient processes and procedures. Your staff will be more likely to adapt to change if they trust your experience and expertise. 

FAIRNESS: If want to build a productive team, don't play favorites. If you measure performance objectively, your team will work harder to exceed expectations. However, if they see you giving anyone special treatment, they will automatically go on the defensive. Communicate that you appreciate everyone and value each person's contribution equally.

Keep your team motivated and watch productivity increase exponentially. If you'd like to learn more tips about leadership, sign-up for daily tips on management.