Turn ‘Em On (Part I)

Today’s post is from guest blogger Heather Kinzie.

Heather KinzieHeather has been a Human Resources professional for nearly 20 years.  She likes to make things better so she develops/presents training courses and facilitates team/process/strategy improvement events.  Her clients benefit from her expertise and her insight but moreover, they appreciate her pragmatic and often brutally honest thoughts, concerns and suggestions.  Heather comes with tons of energy and laughter, but she also comes with quirks, truth and the occasional storm of swear words. :)

The participants of a class I taught the other day were surprised when, after I was introduced, I asked “what turns you on?”

After a long, and somewhat amusing, period of silence, I let them know I was talking about motivation.  Specifically, we’d be discussing igniting their employees’ thoughts and insights, energizing their employees to work more, work better and work smarter, and finding the key that gets their employees going.

After they settled back down and put away their thoughts of a racy, albeit highly inappropriate leadership class, I proceeded with the subject at hand. 

Motivating Employees

I read a lot of books in an effort to draw inferences from the philosophies of others.  I like Tom Terez’ book, “22 Keys to a Meaningful Workplace.”  I read this book years ago but find myself re-reading it often because it’s simple, it’s pragmatic, and it resonates with me.

Mr. Terez believes we have one or more “keys” that motivate us at work.  He offers 22 different keys but breaks them down into five “buckets.”

  •  Mission Driven
  • Development Driven
  • Employee Driven
  • Community Driven
  • Self-Driven


This post, and its “continuation” post tomorrow, will attempt to give you my insights about these categories.

Mission Driven Employees

These individuals are driven by a purpose and thus, need alignment communicated to them.  They focus on results and milestones and, therefore, appreciate discussing planning, forecasting and evaluation.  They seek validation in their day-to-day work but specifically, they thrive on information about how they supported something bigger such as a program or organizational objectives.

Motivating these employees requires the supervisor to engage in active communication and to think of the bigger picture.  The supervisor who develops action plans, consistently evaluates status of projects/work, and develops feedback mechanisms according to “bigger” objectives and measures will find Mission Driven employees remain actively engaged and motivated.

Development Driven Employees

These employees are driven by a challenge, self-improvement, and the development of a value-added skill.  They are comfortable with being outside their comfort zones and most of them choose to put themselves there.  They aren’t the only employees who enjoy innovation and creativity but they are highly motivated if allowed to take risks in this regard.

Motivating these employees requires the supervisor to step back and allow for mistakes, knowing that growth and development are likely to occur.  Supervisors should make an investment in training, whether it be formal, informal, self-directed or otherwise.  The supervisor who facilitates the creation of support networks, engages with employees about their own development interests and needs, and provides opportunities to learn something new or do something different will find Development Driven employees rise to the occasion.

The above two categories are just two out of five in Mr. Terez’s book; tomorrow’s post will cover my thoughts on the other three.  In the meantime, I challenge you to think about the way you communicate your goals, your objectives, and your expectations to your employees.  Trust me, you probably aren’t doing this enough!

In addition, consider how you are approaching development opportunities with your employees.  If you’re relying upon formal training, you may be missing the boat.  Switch it up a bit!  Suggest to your employees some self-study, start a book club for work, ask people to cross-train, etc.  You’ll be turnin’ on those who are driven by a challenge or inspired and motivated by doing something different.

Consider it some motivational foreplay…


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