3 Motivational Tools to Drive Success in 2015

As I’ve reflected near the end of another year, I’ve thought about some of the more interesting business ideas that I was exposed to this year. Earlier this year I read a fascinating book on motivation called “Drive,” by Daniel Pink, a famous psychologist. His research dives into the various ways humans have created environments to motivate themselves and others. He explores many mistakes that we make in trying to motivate others—key flaws of outdated motivational systems—and other successes that we happen across.

Pink discusses three pillars of motivation that form the basis of a new and improved motivational approach. Outdated systems of punishment, carrot and stick, and the business view of employees as human resources—are better understood and improved in light of the three pillars. These three motivational pillars provide insight into how individuals work and may be helpful for you and your business in 2015:


The ability to determine when or how to complete a task or project can be incredibly motivating to team members. One sure way of destroying morale is to micromanage or force employees to do things a very specific way. Now, there are exceptions. If a task is programmatic and there is a specific way that produces the perfect result, like a McDonald’s hamburger, then removing autonomy through a procedure is appropriate. But for heuristic, creative tasks, micromanaging can be damaging.

Consider giving extra leeway to your project managers and employees this year. Some companies have even gone to the extreme as to abolish the 40-year workweek and encourage employees to work from home at-will, as long as they maintain a high standard of productivity. These companies have seen an increase in retention, morale, and productivity, although their culture is vastly different from before.


The greatest leaders know that centering a company and employees on a central vision can produce incredible results. Steve Jobs is a famous example as he rallied his troops around producing only innovative, technologically brilliant products. Working as a CFO in various companies, I’ve determined that the difference in companies where vision is prevalent vs where it’s not, is tangible. Employees tackle bigger problems, stay more on task, and aim higher to help the company achieve its world-changing goals.

Take time to think through the big picture of what you want to accomplish with your company. Really consider the impact you could have on individuals, families, and industries—and then distill it down into a conversation that you can have with your employees on a regular basis. Use the conversation as a time to share your genuine passion about what you are accomplishing—if you’re truly genuine and passionate, your vision will rub off.


While some employees prefer doing things their own way or are motivated by rallying behind a cause, others are most motivated by personal growth—the idea that by accomplishing a project or set of tasks that they will be learning and mastering a new set of skills. If employees are able to see and understand how a new project or seemingly insurmountable task could lead them to being a better leader, or project manager, or more effective analyst, then they are more likely to be motivated through to its finish. Think of your first few months at a job, every task is new and exciting because you want to master your new position.

The key is to have opportunities and tasks for employees that will always be challenging to them. Many once-heuristic tasks eventually become programmatic. At that point, it may be worth having your employee spend some of their time producing tutorials or training materials that can turn those projects into bite-sized tasks that interns or other lower-paid employees could handle. That will free up their time to be creative and solve bigger problems—thereby achieving higher levels of personal mastery.

2015 brings with it a new opportunity to examine our business culture and decide if we want to make adjustments. These motivational pillars could be instrumental in helping to retain one of your employees this year.