Motivation Techniques

Motivation is an important predictor of success. If you’re trying to lose weight, get promoted at work or get your novel published, you know the value of staying motivated. Likewise, if you’re a coach, office manager or educator, you know how difficult motivating other people can be. Here are some helpful techniques for motivation that you may want to try.

Motivating Other People

Motivating other people involves intelligent goal setting, strong leadership and learning the values and desires of the group. To motivate others:

  • Build a team-centered environment. People will often try harder to achieve goals if they feel they belong to a group than if they feel like they’re on their own. Foster this feeling by rewarding team accomplishments instead of individual accomplishments.

    Schedule parties and picnics that bring teams together and give them a chance to talk. Holding friendly, non-work-related competitions may also help team members bond with one another.

  • Maintain a positive attitude. A leader’s positive attitude can go a long way toward motivating other people. In the face of setbacks, players, students and employees must know that their leaders still have faith in them. Make sure that your people know that you believe they can do what you’re asking of them.
  • Set reachable, specific and measurable goals. Unclear, muddy goals don’t motivate people. Make sure your people know exactly what they have to do, how they should go about doing it and how their results will be measured.
  • Set deadlines. Goals without deadlines become easy to ignore and can lead to serious procrastination and half-baked attempts. Plus, if people are to be rewarded for their efforts, they need to know when they’ll be rewarded.
  • Use contingent rewards. Reward your people when they accomplish the goals you set. Whether it’s a pizza party for an athletic team, a paycheck for an employee or an “A” for a hard-working student, contingent rewards have been used as motivational techniques for centuries because they work.
  • Use valued rewards. Promising to reward people with things they don’t want won’t motivate them. Find out what your people like and what they would value, perhaps through a questionnaire.

    For instance, some students are motivated by good grades and others are motivated simply by personal attention from the teacher, just as some employees are content to work for their paychecks, while others might get excited by the prospect of face-time with the company CEO.

    If members of the same group are motivated by different things, tailor your reward structure to make sure each individual gets what she wants once the goal is accomplished.

Motivational Techniques for Yourself

You can use the motivational techniques described above to motivate yourself, as well. When you try to encourage yourself, one important missing element is a leader, whose positive attitude and ability to reward can be very motivating. Here are some techniques for motivation that may compensate for the lack of a leader:

  • Find a partner. It’s often said that misery loves company. While the pursuit of your goals certainly shouldn’t make you miserable, it may be more tolerable if you find someone with similar goals with whom to share your trials and tribulations. Your partner’s different perspective might give you ideas for ways to accomplish your goals that hadn’t occurred to you.
  • Make yourself accountable. Tell a spouse or a close friend what you’ll be doing to accomplish your goals. Ask him to check up on you and monitor your progress. You can also ask him to take charge of your reward system in some way. For instance, if your goal is to lose weight and you’d like to reward yourself with some TV time after a long workout, ask your spouse to hold on to the remote until you’re done exercising.


Wright State University. (n.d.). Motivating others through goals and rewards. Retrieved September 27, 2010, from

Bureau of Land Management. (n.d.). Team building. Retrieved September 27, 2010, from