How to leverage ‘progress’ to boost employee motivation

Team Management

How to leverage ‘progress’ to boost employee motivation

Here’s the problem; we are great at setting strategic goals but often the problem is getting our teams to actually execute them – hindering progress. Most of the time it’s not because there aren’t enough goals set or that the team is incompetent at achieving them, but rather due to what we call the ‘execution gap’.

 The importance of ‘Certainty’

 Based on current brain science, there are 5 domains that our brains treat on the same plane as survival. One of these key domains, that is responsible for unmotivated employees, is ‘uncertainty’. When we don’t feel confident about a situation and are left with an overwhelming number of questions and unknowns, execution becomes elusive. The brain craves certainty to be able to take action and be productive.

How To Increase ‘Certainty’

Influencing the execution gap starts with setting the focus – we need to get specific! What are you achieving and in what time period?

Personally, I set quarterly goals. This approach takes gigantic vision and turns it into bite size goals. It helps keep motivation high by providing a regular finish line.

What goals are your team setting out to accomplish this year and are they goals that are going to make the most difference to your company and its vision?

Remember that “the enemy of the best, is the good” quoting Jerry rice.

Narrow your focus to where you can make the most difference with the limited capacity you have.

When we take ‘vague intent’ and turn it into ‘clear-cut finish lines’ we increase certainty, which in turn, increases morale, productivity and motivation within our employees and teams.

 Other ways certainty can be relinquished at work:

- When jobs and responsibilities are robbed of significance and meaning.

- When individuals and teams don’t actually know HOW to achieve a goal; the tangible steps they need to know in order to reach a result or whether or not they can measure if they are actually moving closer to the finish line.

- When the company changes (e.g. downsizing) and employees’ roles are affected there can be feelings of loss and/or unknown expectations going forward.

- When there isn’t open communication to facilitate impasses and employee problems towards projects and goals, but instead employees are given ‘lectures’ on what to do or on the problem itself (we tend to panic and control others when we see performance lagging). This detracts from an employee’s sense of control and certainty and, in turn, progress.

Foster The Right Environment

How to leverage ‘progress’ to boost employee motivation

Model Breakdown:

In any given moment an employee is deciding what to focus on, what something means and what action to take based on the meaning they have given to their perceptions. This is the basis to their thought and emotion and creates either a positive or negative emotional climate.

This is important because how an employee feels personally and what meaning they give to events at work influences:

- How immersed and focused they are in their tasks and activities

- Their drive to actually work hard

- How engaged they are in team projects.

 Use this checklist to drive a toward  ‘CERTAINTY” response and foster a positive workplace climate:

- Does my team have clear short and long-term goals for meaningful work?

- Has there been any confusion regarding long or short term goals, expectations or responsibilities for meaningful work with my team today?

- Did I focus on proactive or passive language around challenges and impasses at work today?

- Have I discussed lessons to be learned from today’s/ this week’s/ this month’s successes and problems with my team?

- What can I do tomorrow to improve or strengthen this social experience?

Learning how to drive a toward response within the 5 brain domains is crucial to enhancing a positive workplace climate and improve the levels of creativeness, cohesiveness, commitment and productivity within your team.


Benjamin Young

Speaker | Coach | Trainer | at Job Performance Coaching & Training

I help executives, managers & team leaders to influence human behaviour and in essence get more out of individuals and teams in terms of execution and results, sustainably. I help both leaders and employees improve excellence, energy & productivity in the workplace. I do this by teaching three specific skill sets: 1. Dealing with having too much to do 2. Staying cool under pressure 3. Influencing Behaviour -(Presenteeism, Absenteeism, Underperforming staff, Constructive Feedback)