The cheapest and most powerful way to motivate your team

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

At a university lecture, I asked the students to guess what provides the biggest motivation for employees. Their answers were as follows:

  1. Money
  2. Advancement/promotion
  3. Status

Not really!

Actually, they missed the most impactful and efficient factor. Until recently I did as well.
You see, when you get a salary increase, or a bonus for the first time, you gain some satisfaction. It only lasts for a short while.
The next time you see that increase amount, you will take it for granted. The next time, a bonus is due, you will very likely expect the same one, and if not, you will be disappointed and demotivated.

What does really motivate?

So, what does really work?
Not only, it works for everybody in every culture, but it also provides an ROI that is surprisingly high.
Would you like to know what provides:

  • 8% increase in revenue
  • 26 time more engagement
  • 3% higher retention

and costs nearly nothing?
I am almost going to disappoint you, as it is so simple.
Sometimes, indeed, the solution is simpler as we think.
Let me tell you what is: recognition.
Is that really that simple?
Yes and no.

Is it so easy?

Appreciating people and telling them so works with everybody, in every culture.
However, there are a few things that are proven to be counterproductive:

  • Criticising people the whole year and giving them just one compliment at the end of the said year
  • Ony giving them financial rewards with no appreciation doesn’t work as well as people feel that you are sort of buying them
  • People can detect your intention: if you only do it as a trick to get some better business results (as real as they can be), the employees will doubt your intention and not believe your world.


In conclusion, I leave you with 5 ways to build a strong recognition culture:

  1. Be generally amazed at our people, discovering their ability, personality and skills
  2. Tell them as soon as possible how great they are
  3. Show your appreciation with personalised gesture (the keyword is not the value or price, but the personal attention)
  4. Show your appreciation of individual and groups publicly
  5. Make sure that counter messages and wrong intentions are not contradicting your message of recognition.

Further reading


Graphic: Alexandr Mindryukov

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