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Pay attention

Managers usually ask: “How do I motivate my staff?” Here's what Dan Airley offers in his book ‘Payoff’.

“Because motivation is a part of almost everything we do, and because it influences and sustains virtually every aspect of our lives, it is impossible to come up with one simple set of motivational rules.”

He goes on to say, “Motivation isn’t at all straightforward. Rather it is intricate and mysterious... To motivate ourselves and others successfully, we need to provide a sense of connection and meaning.”

Airley's research makes a strong case that monetary rewards provide short-lived motivation and in fact reduce motivation to perform in the long term. He uses stories to point out how motivation is often the drive behind achievements that are difficult, challenging, and painful – a finding I’m sure any successful person can attest


The lesson for people leaders is that the strongest motivator is completely within your control: acknowledge the efforts of your staff. Science confirms that paying attention to their contribution and giving positive feedback is worth more than a bonus and it has a lasting effect.

“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” Viktor E. Frankl


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