Steven's Blog

The Three Rs of Motivation


You can’t motivate people. People must motivate themselves. All you can do is create circumstances for people to do so.

In doing this, you must address the three Rs:

Responsibility, recognition, and reward.


People may be attracted to ease of life, but they are motivated by challenge. Click To Tweet

Give a person a job he or she can do easily, and he or she will quickly become bored and demotivated. Give someone a job that is just beyond his or her capabilities that will force personal growth, and watch as he or she attacks the challenge with ardor.


Recognition for one’s effort and contribution is always appreciated as a universally powerful motivator. Never underestimate the power of just saying, “Thank you.” Recognition is almost always ranked more highly than money as a motivator in surveys of employees.


Yes, reward is important too, particularly monetary reward. However, as a motivator it only goes so far. If a person feels he or she is remunerated as deserved and as necessary to live, additional monetary reward rarely motivates, and sometimes demotivates. Pay your people fairly, and increase pay appropriately. A deserved bonus or increase in pay to a productive employee can unleash tremendous motivation and deliver incalculable value to the business far beyond the cost of the increase. Be stingy with reward, and suffer the consequences of demotivation – lost opportunities costing far more than the money saved.

Most people respond well to the three Rs. However, there are people who have no or little desire for personal growth. This could be for many reasons, most of which are beyond your influence or control. Don’t obsess over how to motivate them. Focus on the majority who do desire personal growth, and you will get far greater return on your efforts.

If you develop a culture and practice of addressing the three Rs, you can unleash the power of your people and grow your business in fabulous ways.

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