Are you ready? Is your team? A quick look at key motivators, and tactical steps you can do to increase motivation, right now…


Winter is coming – are you and your team so jazzed about the work you do that it’s enough to get you out from under the covers and into the office on those cold and snowy winter days?

As business leaders, some of us are motivated by the “thrill of the build”, while some of us find joy in “delighting the customer”, yet others love the “steadiness of the stride.” Entrepreneurs and business owners are often motivated by the very challenges of business ownership, but that passion doesn’t always resonate the same way for others. The truth is, regardless of what motivates us, when we’re growing the teams around us – looking to hire or engage or retain our employees, it’s important to understand what motivates them.

iStock_000004233188XSmallRedClifClimbSo how do we know what motivates someone else to get out of bed and go to work – or beyond that…to do their best work? While “money” might have been an easy answer at some point, researchers have found that’s not necessarily the case…

Daniel Pink, author of Drive, the Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, points to three key factors that motivate us to keep coming back to our jobs. While most of us are unlikely to say no to extra cash, research reveals that more money can actually yield poorer performance in some cases. In truth, if we want employees to think, do, and be better, regardless of their personality or communication preferences, Pink says that we need to make sure each employee feels a sense of autonomy, mastery and purpose. If you’d care to spend another 10 minutes or so hearing Dan Pink’s TED Talk, made visually compelling by RSA Animate (which we recommend strongly!), click here.

So what does that mean, really? Here are some explanations and some tips to make the ideas and the solutions accessible to you right here, right now.

  1. Autonomy
    In general, we enjoy being self-directed–it allows us to be innovative on our own. We work better when we’re empowered and given enough room to breathe, and we appreciate the control and trust it implies. Let’s get real, who among us really “loves” being micromanaged? Want to increase autonomy for your team? Try these 2 tips.

    • Let go of the “how.” It’s pretty likely that the end result, or the “what” is critical, but that there may be a few different ways to get to the same result. If you’ve spent any time recently seeing how kids in school do math today, you’ll kimage008now for sure there are multiple ways to get to the same answer! The “how” isn’t always as critical as the “what”. To increase the sense of autonomy those around you feel, consider how you can convey or delegate the “what” to your team, and loosen up the reins a little on the “how”.
    • As a team, have a “pet project” time. Designate a few hours each quarter, or maybe each month where each employee can innovate and work on something – something clearly related to the business you’re in – specifically something that makes work better for your team or your customers – and let them focus on just that for a few hours, and then show off what they’ve accomplished. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive or fancy or earth-shattering, it just has to be what they want to work on. Google has been doing something like this for years, and they continue to be a top employer.
  2. Mastery
    As human beings, we crave continuous improvement. It’s satisfying to know that we’re better at what we do than we were a year ago. As our skills improve, the work becomes more challenging, and therefore more enjoyable. We feel a deeper sense of accomplishment when we finish more difficult tasks. Think of the sense of pride you have in the things you’ve learned over the years – the things you do better today than you did before. Want to increase mastery for your team?

    • Model a passion for continuous improvement. Take a class, read a book, engage a coach or work with a mentor, and make a habit of reflecting on what you’re learning. Set learning goals for yourself, and talk about them with your team. Start with one thing you’re interested in, curious about, or wish you did better. Find a book, resource, or class that can help you grow, and get started.
    • As a team, make sure each person has a development goal. Set aside meaningful time – even as little as a few hours a quarter – where team members can focus on growing their skills and sharing back or demonstrating what they’ve learned. Make yours a learning environment, where learning new skills, new tools, and new processes is encouraged!
  3. Purpose
    Finally, we like to contribute—in fact, as humans, we feel an almost instinctual need to contribute–to something bigger than ourselves, whether it’s a great product, a solid organization, or good customer service. That’s what gets us in the door on the week days, it’s what gets us to stay, even when times are tough, and it’s what gets us to tell those around us what a great company we work for! We take greater pride in the day-to-day tasks when we know we’re doing them for a greater purpose. Want to increase purpose for your team?

    • Talk about your company’s vision, mission, and values. What do you stand for, what do you believe in as an organization? Make sure that the core foundation is visible in words (like on wall-posters, desktop fliers, brochures, placards, and that sort of thing), but even more importantly, make sure it’s visible in the actions you take.
    • As a team, take some time to do something for someone else. This time of year there are all sorts of service projects, clean-up projects, giving opportunities – find one, and serve, together as a team. Even if it’s not directly related to what your company does, you’ll find increased engagement and improved team dynamics by working together for a greater good.

Three clear concepts to improve employee engagement and morale, with simple steps to give it a whirl where you work, right now. Are you ready?

Your Clear Next Step has been solving business problems and improving organizational performance since 2008. Want more? Check out







Sinikka Waugh, President and CEO
Your Clear Next Step, LLC
Making business better for individuals, teams, and organizations
p. 515.971.0964

A little more about us:

She is a recognized leader in understanding people and in adapting tools, techniques, and processes to meet the demands of the situation at hand. As a popular presenter and trainer, her energetic and engaging style drives home the art and science of making business better for individuals, teams, and organizations. 

Since 1996, Sinikka has successfully applied analysis and leadership expertise to improve performance in a wide array of industries.   As a project manager, business analyst, facilitator, trainer, and coach, Sinikka is known for consistently helping teams find innovative ways to solve problems and get things done. 

Since 2006, Sinikka has provided compassionate leadership in transformation initiatives.  Sinikka’s results-driven professionalism blends seamlessly with her down-to-earth, “try this now” approach and her passion for helping others reach their goals and interact more effectively with others. 

 Sinikka holds a BA from Central College, an MA from the University of Iowa, and is a certified Project Management Professional through the Project Management Institute. Sinikka and her husband Spencer live in Indianola, Iowa with their two daughters.

One thought to “Are you ready? Is your team? A quick look at key motivators, and tactical steps you can do to increase motivation, right now…”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *