There are many things that seem to motivate people – independence, recognition, power, prestige, money, achievement, security, personal growth, professional challenge, collaboration, creativity.


A best friend of mine used to be motivated by being given the opportunity to work on the holidays others took off so she could take off on days when others worked. It fit her introverted personality perfectly.

She’s retired now, but today she would seek work at company that allowed her to work from home, because it fit HER style. Oh how she loved working in that quiet deserted office on holidays!

For many years during training programs I’ve simply been asking people how they want to feel and I want to share them with you.


People want to feel…


Appreciated, included, and supported. Valued, connected and important.

Confident, acknowledged and recognized, Respected and trusted. People

want to feel part of something they believe in – something larger them themselves.


They also want to feel appropriately challenged and accomplished, and of course they want to feel well compensated and worthy.  They want to feel heard. They want to feel a sense of purpose in what they do.


Everybody is motivated by different things at different times.


Just like the value proposition with the customer needs to change from time to time, the value proposition we have with employees does as well. How has YOUR value proposition with your employees changed since Covid showed up on our shores?

I remember once sitting down and making a list of all the things I thought motivated people. It was a good list and I still think it’s useful but through all these years of consulting, interviewing, and interacting with thousands of people I’m understanding motivation from a whole different perspective.


What motivates people?


That’s a trick question. You see, you can’t really motivate people. People motivate themselves. You can give them incentives, you can give them goals but we all know that those external “motivators” only last a short time.

So if you can’t really motivate people, what can you do to get people moving towards the goals, the vision, the very purpose of your organization.


The answer is simple – you can create an environment where people feel good about themselves in your presence. (Which is getting a little harder to do in today’s virtual world)


I’m going to say that a second time. You can’t motivate people but what you can do is to create an environment – that’s enriching, that’s supportive, that’s encouraging – where people feel good about themselves in your “presence.” Even if that presence is virtual.


I’ve been consulting a long time and based on my conversations with people, I can tell you what they want.


They want clear expectations, they want to be held accountable, they want to be inspired and they want big audacious goals.

People want to feel connected to purpose driven work and they want to have a clear understanding of how their contribution impacts the lives of others. People are hungry to create work that reflects what really matters to them and to have the opportunity to use their strengths every day.


They want to be trusted. They don’t want to be micromanaged. They want a collaborative relationship with their leaders, where they’re treated like the capable adults they are.


Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” What he meant was that excellence is not an act but a habit – a set of practices that support our best intentions to be the best that we can be.


Three quarters of our nation’s wealth is in the form of human capital, so making sure that people have every opportunity to bring their best selves to work offers more value to our economy than almost anything else I can think of!


Happy, engaged employees create happy, engaged customers. They go home and spread the good feelings to the ones they love. They have energy left over at the end of a day to contribute to their community. Happy customers come back with friends and money. Everyone wins! You know what I call that – The Positive Spillover Effect!


By the way… A study I read recently stated that happy employees are 85% more efficient at their work, spend 65% more time feeling energized, are 58% more likely to go out of their way to help colleagues than their not so happy counterparts. Just sayin’

If I’ve missed a few of the things YOU want to feel at work, please let me know so I can add them to my list.


My E-Course – The Practice of Positive Leadership: Use the Science of Happiness to Keep Employees Engaged and Customers Happy will give you a rock solid foundation – based on science and experience – for a Positive Leadership practice that energizes, elevates and activates the spark we all have inside to make a positive difference in the world.


Here’s to feeling fulfilled at work!


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