Top two ways to motivate employees

by Betty Lochner on April 4, 2012

Sometimes it’s the little things we do or say that make all the difference. A recent survey by  McKinsey Quarterly, asked which incentives were the most effective in motivating employees.

And, as with all communication skills, with a little adaptation this holds true for relationships at home as well (pets and humans).

The top two responses were:

1) Praise and commendation from my immediate manager (67 percent)

2) Attention from leaders (62 percent)

Wow.  Money isn’t in the top two responses.  That’s pretty compelling evidence that developing praise and appreciation skills can have a huge impact in motivating employees. That seems simple enough. So, why don’t more supervisors give positive attention and praise to their employees?

I know from experience that its not as simple as just telling supervisors to praise their employees more.  It’s not that supervisors don’t want to give effective praise –  the issue is that they don’t know how or don’t feel comfortable doing so.  Feedback I’ve gotten from supervisors who struggle with giving praise are that it takes too much time, it feels insincere, or even that it doesn’t match their personality.

Here are some easy ways to teach the skills of appreciation:

1) Model the behavior you want to see.

2) Praise something your coworker has done well. Identify the specific actions that you liked.

3) Show regular appreciation by saying “thank you.” Contributing to a more gracious and polite workplace is appreciated by all.

3) One word: food. Take coworkers or staff to lunch for a birthday, a special occasion or for no reason at all. Or, just leave their favorite treat on their desk and say “I’m glad you work here!”

Are you motivating your employees, family and pets?  Please leave a comment with your top two ways!


Cornerstone Coaching & TrainingBetty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home.  To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit:




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