top of page
  • Writer's pictureTerry Dockery


“I just can’t get these people motivated” thought the manager. “They’re already paid at the top of their salary range in the marketplace; they should be highly motivated and biting at the bit to get to the next level of performance. Instead they’re just cruising along on auto pilot and doing mediocre work. What’s wrong with these people? Have I hired the wrong team members?”

Does money matter to employees? You bet. Can you pay substandard wages and expect to recruit highly motivated people? No. A good rule of thumb is to pay market rate or slightly higher to your employees. That’s about all the motivation you’re going to get out of money. Paying fairly will allow you to attract good people, but the money you pay them usually doesn’t inspire employees to do their very best work; e.g., doubling someone’s salary doesn’t double their motivation.

In surveys that ask employees about what does motivate them most at work, people usually don’t even rank money in the top three. It turns out that RAG(s) (note the catchy acronym) actually are more important than riches. This is particularly good news for leaders and managers, especially when economic times are lean. So what are the top 3 motivators of employees that comprise the RAG acronym? They are recognition, autonomy, and growth.

Recognition: Most people thrive on recognition for a job well done. We all want to feel that we’re making a difference in the world, and recognition for our efforts is almost always welcomed. Recognizing someone privately is very good, and recognizing them publicly is great!

Autonomy: People like a certain amount of freedom to do their work in the way they think is best. Of course they need clear goals and guidelines, but most of us don’t enjoy being told how to do things right down to the last detail (see “micromanaging”). Give your team members a chance to express their problem solving ability and creativity—this is how innovation happens!

Growth: The people that you want on your team enjoy opportunities for learning and growth. They enjoy the challenge of mastering new skills; otherwise they become bored and lose excitement about their work. Consider such opportunities as job enlargement, job rotation, training and workshops, coaching, and opportunities for advancement. A great upside of doing this is that over time your team members are able to contribute even more to your organization!

So the really good news is that you don’t have to be the wealthiest competitor in the marketplace to hire great team members. You just need to pay them fairly and demonstrate your commitment to cover them in RAG(s)…


Technique #1: The motivation of money tends to max out at market value or slightly above—pay your team members accordingly.

Technique #2: Almost everyone loves recognition; private recognition is very good and public recognition is great!

Technique #3: Solid team members usually enjoy the opportunity to problem solve and to be creative; give them general goals and guidelines along with a degree of autonomy to do their work their way.

Technique #4: Desirable team members look forward to opportunities for learning and mastering new skills—these opportunities allow them to spread their wings and increase their contribution to your organization.

Copyright Terry "Doc" Dockery, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

7 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Couldn’t Load Comments
It looks like there was a technical problem. Try reconnecting or refreshing the page.
bottom of page