Get instant access to 30+ FREE leadership resources:

The 4 Key Motivators of Every Worker – Which is Yours?

Most of us have good motivations at work.  We want to do a good job, we want to help others around us, and we want to be positive contributors. Having said that, everyone also has underlying motivations for why they show up to work. So what are the main motivators of workers?

I’ve narrowed this list to four.  Here they are:

  1. Money
  2. Power
  3. Status
  4. Popularity

Each of these motivations has a good side, and also a shadow side.  It’s not necessarily bad to be motivated by any of them, but when it’s taken too far, it can get ugly.

Remember that everyone who works for and with you is motivated differently.  Don’t treat them all the same way.

Read through the list and choose which one belongs to you!

Money

Say what you like, money is a big motivator.  In fact, it’s a big enough motivator that it can paper over differences in values or beliefs or long term direction.  For a while.  Once a person’s desire for money is reached, then all the values and beliefs and direction issues come back up again.

However, imagine if someone offered you twenty times what you’re currently making for the next three months.  Would you care much if you didn’t like the person you report to or if the working conditions weren’t great or if the culture was toxic?

Most people wouldn’t, at least for the short term.

There are lots of people who wouldn’t even care much if it were legal!

Bear in mind that money is a big motivator for people.  Of course it’s bigger for some than for others, but it matters to everyone.  It’s not all about core values!

Power

There are people who are strongly motivated to have power over others and over their own circumstances.  Not everyone values this, but those who do, value it a lot!

There are very few elected (or unelected) leaders who achieve high office who give it up voluntarily.  Power is like a drug to them, and they hang on to it, and increase it at every opportunity.

Think of the people who are eager for promotion.  Recall people you’ve worked with who want to make all the decisions and order everyone else around.  They value power.

Power isn’t necessarily an evil motivation.  We desperately need people who want power and desire to use it to make everyone’s life better.  These people become ‘statesmen’ and are honored, sometimes for centuries after.

They are also that person you think back on as a wonderful boss.  They were motivated by using power effectively.  It’s a big motivator.

Status

When you consider status as a motivator, think of things like this:

  • Office size and location
  • Parking spot
  • Clothes chosen
  • Car driven
  • House lived in
  • Neighborhood of house lived in
  • Watch/jewelry worn
  • Title on business card
  • Airline perks
  • Important ‘friends’ to name drop
  • Access to the inner circle

All of these are status-based motivators.  Often I run into people who want the status, but don’t want the actual duties of the job.

They want the title of ‘Team Lead’ or whatever higher status title is available, but they don’t want to have tough conversations or fire people or always be on the hunt for new talent.

In any case, status is a big motivator for many, and not at all for others.

Popularity

People who value popularity care a lot about being liked.  They want to know that there are warm feelings circulating about them everywhere in the business.

They want to be liked by customers, vendors, and team members.

Like all of the motivations, there are really good sides to this.  People who value popularity are careful to make themselves palatable to others.  They remember birthdays and are polite and sociable.

The downside of this motivation is that these people can avoid difficult conversations, and ‘pass the buck’ when there’s a decision that has to be made that is going to make some people upset.

 

In summary:

All of us have a variety of motivations that drive us in our work.  None of them are evil in themselves, but each has a shadow side.

Choose which motivation is yours, and remember to treat each of your team members differently, because each one is motivated differently.  Here are the four motivations:

  1. Money
  2. Power
  3. Status
  4. Popularity

 

Additional resources

Thanks for reading this article on ‘The 4 key motivators of every worker.  Which one is yours?’  Below are additional resources from Professional Leadership Institute, the global provider of online human resources and leadership tools:

Trevor Throness is a speaker, consultant, and author of “The Power of People Skills.”  He is also co-founder and senior instructor at www.professionalleadershipinstitute.com https://www.professionalleadershipinstitute.com/

Find more about “The Power of People Skills” here: https://www.amazon.com/Power-People-Skills-Dramatically-Performance/dp/1632651068

Testimonials

Our Clients Love the Professional Leadership Institute

Your team will, too! Check out some reviews from our students.
The PLI program was invaluable to our network.
The range of topics delivered, the open dialogue, experience, and examples that PLI brought to each session were outstanding and provided a path for our Franchisees and Managers to look at leadership, coaching, and connecting with their teams in a new light. Many have implemented these strategies in their bakeries and have seen immediate results.
Michelle C.
COBS Bread
Highly recommend to help your team move forward
We have locations around BC and Alberta, so getting people on the same page can be very difficult... Until now. Our entire management team and location managers take the same great courses and then meet monthly online with our coach to apply it to our situation. People are engaged, the courses are excellent, we love our coach, and we are all learning together!
Jason Fawcett
President, Kelson Group
The result has been a transformation of our culture. 
We decided to implement PLI's strategies across the country in over 150 locations and over 3500 employees.  The result has been a transformation of our culture.  People's lives have been positively impacted - professionally and personally.  Morale is high and sales and profits are up as a result.
Daryl Verbeek
Daryl Verbeek
We’ve learned how to fix ongoing personnel issues once and for all
The roadmap laid out set our business up to quintuple in sales.  We've learned how to fix ongoing personnel issues once and for all, attract top talent, and spend our time focused on results, not internal staffing problems.  I highly recommend PLI to you - it's worked for us!
John DeJong
Satisfied Client
I had no idea that running a business could be this fun!
In less than 18 months of working with Trevor, he has transformed my business from being average to exceptional, where mediocrity is not acceptable, where being great is standard.  Working with PLI has allowed me to realize my dream of not simply owning a job, but owning a business.
Justin Bontkes
Principal, Caliber Projects
Our culture has taken major steps forward this year
Our culture has taken major steps forward this year with Trevor’s help.  He is funny, relatable, and his tools are very very practical and have helped us focus and upgrade our teams throughout our retail network. Trevor recently spoke to an employee group, and one person remarked, “I could listen to Trevor all day.”   We would highly recommend Trevor.
Stan Pridham
Founder, KMS Tools
The results have been remarkable
At first, we resisted, “This just won’t work with a law firm.” But we persisted and the results have been remarkable: our client base and profits have steadily improved, and staff engagement and morale is the healthiest its ever been.
Doug Lester
Partner, RDM Lawyers
Helped our fast-growing business become what it is today
I've experienced PLI's approach first hand and it's been crucial to sustaining our growth.  I can't imagine a business that wouldn't benefit greatly from his help.
Brian Antenbring
Founder, TEEMA
Provided practical ways to make positive changes
Trevor was incredibly well-received by the entire organization. He was able to articulate people issues that many of our franchisees were experiencing and provided them with practical ways to make positive changes. We have implemented the Star Chart tool across the organization and see it as vital to building happy, effective teams.
Aaron Gillespie
President, COBS Bread
Scroll to Top

Start Learning Today

For Individuals

Unlock your potential and accelerate your career with sought-after management and leadership skills.

 

Transform Your Organization

For Teams

Book a consultation to discuss your challenges and discover how we can help you build a winning team.

 

Sign Up For Weekly Tips!

Get Weekly Coaching Tips Straight To Your Inbox Every Monday.