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Carole Gaskell

Full Potential Group

Managing Director

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How to energise your entire workforce


Most learning and development professionals know that a highly-engaged workforce will perform better – in fact, 50% more according to the report ‘Engaging Hearts and Minds’ by Hay Research Group (2015).  But how can you tap into that energy that will ignite the fire within your people?

The missing ingredient to most engagement programmes is motivation - knowing what motivates individuals within your team. But increasing levels of motivation shouldn’t be just down to the company to implement changes from the top like new ways of working, benefits or perks.

If it is left to the organisation then the ‘fire’ within individuals will burn very briefly because motivation cannot be ignited through ‘blanket’ policies or changes.  It comes down to making adjustments at the individual level. It’s about managers and individuals themselves knowing what their individual drivers are, and recognising how they can trigger these motivators.   

Understanding people’s key drivers              

There are nine individual motivational drivers and each of us has a blend of them all, with some significantly more important to us than others.

Simply recognising our own and our individual team members’ top motivational drivers makes a huge difference to how people lead and energise their people. 

Each motivator has its own set of ‘triggers’ which leaders can align against an individual’s roles and responsibilities. Equally, leaders will know what ‘turns off’ these individuals and the management techniques to avoid. 

The nine motivational drivers

The searcher

A searcher is someone who wants to make a difference. They want meaning and a sense of purpose in what they do. They need to feel they are doing worthwhile work that is adding real value with a clear reason why. Leaders should give them important, meaningful work and link their goals to the organisation.

Also, ensure to give them regular and purposeful feedback on how they are making a difference.   

Searchers dislike repetitive work so avoid meaningless routines. Ask them for ideas on how to vary the work or the routines and if repetitive routines are unavoidable, find ways that their value can be demonstrated. For example, ask the person benefiting from their work to explain to the searcher how it is helping them in their work.

The spirit

Spirits thrive on freedom, autonomy and independence so give them a sense of empowerment and ownership over something whilst being clear on your expectations. Encourage the mindset that they are really Managing Directors of their own business as spirits want to see their role as one they are doing, not for the organisation, but for themselves.

Avoid too many rules or procedures by considering ways to be flexible and steer clear of perpetually summoning colleagues to your office. Instead, set aside time each week where individuals can come in and talk to you about any issues.

The creator

These people are about being creative and innovative so give them an innovative project. Get them focusing on something new or some aspect of continuous improvement that will make a difference to the team or business. Bear in mind that routine invariably means boring to the creator, and boring leads to mistakes.

The expert

Being the go-too person, really excelling in a particular area of expertise, is what the expert is all about. Motivate them by helping them build their knowledge. Give them more experience and encourage them to share their insight. They can be great coaches and mentors, as well as people who are either learning more expertise, or sharing their expertise with others.

Never allow an ‘expert’ to get stagnated by failing to develop them. Organisations without a learning culture or with inadequate training programmes are likely to be a turn-off.

The builder

Someone with strong builder characteristics, likes an above-average standard of living. They are target-driven and like to feel like they are achieving things.

To them, money and material satisfaction is very important. They are the one person in the team where it is critical to look at their remuneration/bonus. Performance related pay is a motivator. Give them stretch goals and targets because they like exceeding KPIs.

Since they appreciate the value of money, they dislike organisations that appear to waste it. They like employers that show sound economic decisions so inform them of how financially responsible the organisation is and how the systems and processes add to the bottom line.

The director

Directors like to be in control. Give them more responsibility, ensure they are effectively mentored and allow them to shadow a more senior member of staff for a time. Ask them to think about areas where they can be more influential and, where appropriate, for them to take more control. 

They will soon switch off if there is no clear career development path mapped out for them or if there’s a lack of opportunity to lead or to feel empowered. 


The star

Stars love social esteem. Their motivational hot buttons are very much about public recognition for being great at what they do so give them opportunities to shine and where they are going to be recognised by others. To tell a Star merely that ‘you have been successful in exceeding all your targets’ will not get the motivational juices going so ensure to adjust the regular appraisal scheme.

What language is used? How can it be refined with specific recognitions and rewards?

The friend

Friends like to feel connected with the business and team. Teamwork and collaboration are very important. They need to feel supported and involved, and tend to enjoy organising team social events and supporting colleagues. 

Sincerity is also crucial. The slightest suggestion that someone is practising a ‘management technique’ on them, or simply doing ‘this’ because they must, negates the importance of the relationship. So, internalising management and coaching skills are essential.

The defender

Defenders like to feel safe, maintain the status quo, minimise risk and thrive on continuity. They are motivated by regular communication and feel safer when things are predictable and they know what is going on.

Honest communication fosters a sense of security as does a consistent style of leadership - if they do not know where they are with their manager, then their focus will not be on their work. Finally, avoid surprises. Defenders can deal with change, so long as the rationale is explained to them - before it is implemented. 

So, nine different motivators, each with different success strategies to boost motivation. Think about individuals in the team, which motivator they mainly fall into and how to apply the ‘drivers’ to each one, to really get the team fired up for the day!

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Author Profile Picture
Carole Gaskell

Managing Director

Read more from Carole Gaskell

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