5.3 Staff Motivation

Motivate Your Staff

There are stacks and stacks of books written about the psychology of motivating employees. However, the two most powerful tools you have to motive your employees are compensation and feedback.


Provide Appropriate Compensation

Compensation plans can be a tricky matter. The simplest way to look at compensation is to recognize that most employees will do the minimum work required for the maximum compensation that can be earned. While this is a sobering fact, what it means is that you have to be smart about how you structure compensation, ensuring that it motivates your employees to achieve desired results.

As an example, let’s look at a Performance Coach named Bobby. One of Bobby’s job responsibilities is to call coaches in order to book team training. His compensation plan is set up to where he gets $5.00 for every coach, he has a conversation with during his one-­‐hour call time each day.  The Program Director of the school is becoming concerned because while Bobby is making about

$500.00 every month from his calls, the school is not booking any team trainings.

This is a classic example of compensating for the wrong behavior – and it happens a lot more than you would think! Unfortunately, it often goes unrecognized.

Yes, the Program Director wants Bobby to make calls to coaches, because that is how to book team training. However, Bobby has figured out how to maximize his compensation – more calls equal more money. So rather than having quality conversations that might lead to team training bookings, Bobby is making quick solicitation calls in order to check the coach off of his list. This allows him to get his $5.00 bonus, and then move onto the next $5.00 opportunity.

The rule of thumb is this – if what is important is the result (and not how the employee gets to the result), the compensation should be based only upon the result. If there are specific actions that are important, then the compensation should be based on both the actions AND the result. Note that it’s a rare circumstance that compensation should be based solely upon actions.

If Bobby’s Program Director is only focused on booking team trainings, then Bobby should be compensated by earning a percentage of each confirmed booking. If the Program Director does not believe Bobby would make the calls needed for those bookings, then Bobby might be offered a lesser amount (maybe $2.00 per coach conversation) in addition to a percentage of each confirmed booking.

The bottom line is that compensation plans can be a great motivator for your staff ONLY if implemented correctly. If not, they can cause unanticipated negative behavior that is difficult to correct. It is always recommended that you review any compensation plan with your owner, a colleague, or a Parisi Support team member before presenting it to your employees.


Provide Ongoing Feedback

The second important motivator you have is feedback – a powerful tool that is often overlooked because it is so simple. The fact of the matter is that everyone wants to know when we are doing a good job, and it is nice to know that others are noticing our hard work. If we are not performing well, it is also critical to know why so we can change our behavior. That is why providing continuous feedback to employees improves job performance.

Feedback does not have to be a formal event or a big deal – and is often best delivered during a quick, simple conversation. Note that there are two types of feedback – motivational and developmental. They are separated due to differences in how to best provide the feedback.


Motivational feedback is delivered to an employee when the individual is doing a good job on a particular task or action. The effects of motivational feedback can often be intensified when done in the presence of others. For example, you might compliment one of your Performance Coaches during a staff meeting on the energy of the sessions over the past week, or you might celebrate a team training or camp booking by buying the team smoothies.

Your actions do not have to be large to receive the value of motivational feedback. Recognition is the motivator and it usually results in the employee(s) working harder for additional recognition in the future.


Developmental feedback is delivered in a private setting to an employee when the individual’s performance is lacking. Note that this type of feedback is NOT the same as negative feedback or constructive criticism, since these techniques often center around what was done wrong. Instead, developmental feedback focuses on what needs to be improved to make the performance better the next time.

Just as with motivational feedback, it does not have to be a grand event; a simple, detailed explanation of what needs to be done differently next time will suffice. Of course, when delivering developmental feedback, you always want to ensure there are no unanswered questions from the employee. Allow sufficient time to discuss the feedback in-­‐depth and address any potential concerns.

The Role of Respect in Motivation

As you know, motivation is extremely important to sustain employee performance over the long-­‐haul.  However, it is also critical to mention the power of respect when it comes to motivation.

One of the most powerful motivators for employees is the respect they have for their leaders. The more your team respects you as their Program Director, the more internally motivated they will be to do a good job for YOU! But remember that respect is earned. Providing your staff with mutual respect, recognition, and “having their backs” on a daily basis will go a long way to earn their respect and ensure a successful team.