From The






From The


Maintaining Motivation

‘Tis the season for slacking off. As the holidays quickly approach, our motivation tends to quickly go out the window. It’s seems to be the natural order of things. But it certainly doesn’t have to be! We can do a lot in our organizations to motivate and engage our teams to perform through this winter slump.

If we look at current trends, what we see is that employers seek certain skills and attributes in their employees, things like problem solving skills, the ability to work well on a team, and flexibility and adaptability. But, interestingly enough, we traditionally issue rewards based on things like technical skill, best individual performance, and timeliness. This system means that employers are motivating and retaining teammates who do the latter. That has bigger implications in the long run, ultimately employers will forever feel like they are missing the skill sets they really need.  

The psychologist Frederick Herzberg developed his Two-Factor Theory of Motivation to address this mismatch in leadership practice. His theory identifies (you guessed it) two major factors that affect an employee’s motivation and satisfaction in the workplace, which he called Motivators and Hygiene Factors.

Motivators are high level factors that influence a person’s satisfaction and motivation in their job including Achievement, Responsibility, and Personal Growth. Hygiene factors, like Pay, Company Policies, and Job Security, directly influence a person’s level of dissatisfaction and demotivation. Herzberg believed that these factors were separate and distinct from one another which means that to really motivate employees we have to eliminate factors that cause dissatisfaction and create conditions for satisfaction.

Most often, we misattribute the motivating effects of Hygiene Factors and don’t spend enough time engaging Motivators. In this way, we see more cash bonuses than we do real growth opportunities. Why is this important? Well, studies have shown that productivity is directly correlated to employee happiness. And productivity, as you can imagine, is important to organizations, regardless of industry. If we want our groups to be productive, then we need to engage them with meaningful offers. Those meaningful offers and rewards ultimately help us to develop and cultivate those skills that we actually desire for our teams.

How do we go about doing that? Here are some tangible strategies that can be considered and implemented:


Achievement: Delegate. Give your team members autonomy to brainstorm, make decisions, achieve and fail.
Recognition: Make time to do this authentically and well. Create new but relevant performance indicators deserving of recognition.
Responsibility: Agree on expectations and set goals and groundrules to help fulfill them.
Personal Growth: Create a culture of healthy and productive feedback.
Job Interest: Identify your team members short and long term goals and then determine how your organization can help them get there.

Hygiene Factors:

Quality of Supervision: Foster appropriate levels of transparency.
Benefits: These may be as simple as competitive pay or vacation time, but also may be more complex like fulfilling values or purpose.
Job Security: Make time for regular structured check ins like Needs and Offers.
Company Policy: Address outdated procedures and policies. Make the changes that you can.
Relations with Others: Create intentional and meaningful opportunities for your team to get to know each other and establish norms.

Now, in practice, motivation is incredibly personal. We can’t generalize and say that this model or these techniques will work for everyone every time. Motivation requires individualized consideration to be really successful. Get started by talking to your group members about which factors help motivate them the most and then work together towards some feasible and actionable solutions! We can finish the year strong with our teams, ‘tis the season for re-energizing, re-aligning, and re-starting!

*Meet the Author*

Caelan Cooney is another Millennial who wants ‘to make an impact’, a self-proclaimed movie critic, avid explorer, lifelong learner, and Chapman University graduate.