What motivates people? What are people's hot buttons? Why should you as a business owner or manager even care about hot buttons or motivations? The simple fact is that if you don't know what motivates a person, you have no way of getting the most out of that person. It is a common misconception that most employees are motivated by money. It is a flawed thought process to think if you dangle a huge carrot or commission in front of someone that it will always motivate them. It might get them excited for a fleeting moment, but if it is not their driving motivation, they will soon lose their desire. If your employees are not motivated, what reason do they have to help you achieve your company's goals?
In my opinion there are four things that motivate employees, and in no certain order they are money; praise or accolades; advancement; and flexibility or time off. Now, I understand that people are motivated by combinations of these four elements, but as a general rule, one of these elements carries more weight than the others. One is the hot button!
I want to drill down on each one of these elements briefly. Money is something that everyone needs or wants, and what some people assume will make them happy. Praise and accolades is another common motivator of some employees. I understand that public acknowledgment of someone's accomplishments can be very rewarding. Advancement is an obvious motivator because without advancement, people cannot realize their growth potential. And lastly there is flexibility, which in my case is my hot button. For me personally, I like to have goals put in front of me and then given the flexibility to manage my own time and effort to accomplish those goals and not be micromanaged.
I've done consulting work for companies where the owners felt they were “loved” by everyone in the company and that they have a very happy “work family”. This is not so when anonymous surveys are taken and the employees have the freedom to be honest without reprisal. You should see the shock on the owners' faces! They thought that pay raises and bonuses were all they needed to have a happy base of employees.
The bottom line on hot buttons is that they are not the same for everyone. Every successful company offers, in some way shape or form, combinations of these elements to their employees. Get to know your employees and what motivates them. Once you do, and you provide those elements to them, your company will soar with success.