How to Motivate People in Positive Ways

How to Motivate People in Positive Ways
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Introduction to Motivation

People speak about motivation - how to get people motivated, keeping them motivated, and what makes them motivated in the first place. What is motivation? Basically, it’s the force that drives us to complete our goals, not just large goals such as starting a family or reaching the top of the career ladder, but those small goals that we go through everyday, like going to the gym or getting bills paid.

Motivation is of course a main focus in regards to the workplace, both in an office and at home. Businesses will of course look at how to keep their employees motivated, as motivation ensures that workers will work hard in order to achieve those goals presented in their job. Those workers that are self-employed may wonder how to keep themselves motivated while working at home, as there are no bosses to ask about deadlines or to help when you’re feeling particularly unproductive.

Knowing how to motivate people in a positive way can make a huge difference when it comes to their professional and even personal approaches on handling their assignments and giving them incentives to achieve those goals.

How to Motivate People in a Positive Way

How does someone motivate another person in a positive way? The best step to learning the answer is to learn what it is that motivates people in the first place. Two very popular theories on motivation are those of Abraham Maslow and Fredrick Herzberg, two psychologists who looked in to what it was that motivated an individual to either work hard or not.

Maslow’s theory outlined what it was that people needed in order to be motivated, developing a hierarchy of needs in which an individual

would move up the pyramid once the needs were met. At the bottom level was that of the basic needs of survival, such as food, water, sleep, etc and moving all the way to that of the need for self-actualization. Maslow’s theory was that once a certain need or condition had been met, a person was motivated to move on to the next level.

Herzberg’s theory is somewhat similar, in that he looked at two sets of factors in what made employees enjoy their jobs (his theory is also known as the two factor or motivation - hygiene theory). The first set looked at how employees felt about pay, their work environment, co-workers, while the second set looked at how a person is recognized at work, including recognition for a job well done and being rewarded.

Motivation for Employees

Motivating employees may seem quite easy when working in a typical 9 to 5 office, but what about those who are self-employed and work from home? The factors for motivation for both sets of workers are essentially the same, the only difference is really how the motivator is presented. So how do you motivate people in a positive way?

Present a good work environment - a positive environment goes a long way in getting employees motivated and excited about working. There is a reason so much is written about keeping your desk organized or designing a room in such a way that your energy is kept to a high level. A bright room, positive pictures or messages, areas free of clutter and mess can help keep energies up and stresses down.

Stress Management - stress is quickly becoming a health issue, causing numerous symptoms when life gets to be too much for people. This can be especially hard on home workers - office workers can go home to relieve stress, home workers really can’t. The motivation here is to find an outlet where you can de-stress about life, whether it be going for a walk or run, going outside, or even playing video games. Getting rid or calming stress can help to keep focus and motivate you to continue.

Recognition - Both Maslow and Herzberg point out a motivation factor of an employee being recognized for their efforts. While pay raises are of course motivators, sometimes it’s little things that can have the biggest impact. A simple “thank you” or “good job” can boost moral, which in turn boosts confidence. For the self-employed, recognition can come from clients who liked their work, or even family members who celebrate the success of a project.

Knowing how to motivate people in positive ways comes from knowing what motivates them and determining how to best use their motivations in order to help them succeed.


A Theory of Human Motivation by Abraham Maslow, Psychological Review Vol #4, published 1943

One More TIme: How Do You Motivate Employees? by Fredrick Herzberg, Harvard Business Review, published 1968, reprint 1987

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