The 5 Motivation Drivers that Get Your Human Team Fired Up

The 5 Motivation Drivers that Get Your Human Team Fired Up

Jeanet Wade
August 19, 2022

In today’s business climate I believe our success as leaders is predicated on one thing and one thing only: our ability to harness and leverage human energy.

Certainly, there are other factors. But if we cannot master that one thing, our other talents, gifts, and abilities won’t allow us to raise the bar for ourselves and our teams enough to meet the challenges we are currently facing, let alone the challenges we will face in the next five to ten years.

That means we have to go beyond engagement. We have to activate human potential, align it to the team’s objectives, and provide what the humans on our teams need to actualize that potential as a unit. For scalability, sustainability, and profitability we have to get people fired up, and give them the fuel to keep that fire burning with minimal interference or oversight from management. 

While all of The 6 Facets of Human Needs™ I detail in The Human Team® affect individual and team motivation, the two that most directly relate to keeping your team fired up and inspired are Consideration and Challenge. 

To help leaders develop ways to activate potential through Consideration I often refer to the book The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People by Gary Chapman and Paul White. In this book they’ve translated the rewards that are most meaningful in romantic relationships into the rewards that motivate in the workplace. 

Showing Consideration for individuals by rewarding them in ways that they find most meaningful can be highly motivational, but it doesn’t light a fire under people the way Challenging them can.

Just as the key to making someone feel truly appreciated is to use rewards that correspond to their Love Language, the key to using Challenge as a way to get them fired up is to structure the Challenge in a way corresponds to their Motivation Driver. 

If you observe your team, you’ll notice that each individual tends to get most excited about projects and opportunities that include one or more of these drivers. When you use that observation as an opportunity to craft assignments that allow them to put those drivers to work you’ll harness their natural energy, which not only boosts motivation but also provides greater personal satisfaction and fulfillment, something we often refer to as self-actualization.

I’ve defined five of these “drivers” that make up our individual Motivation Profile. As with any continuum, each of us respond to all of these drivers to some extent, but there are usually one or two that naturally get us more fired up than the others. 

The 5 Motivation Drivers

  1. Competition – they’re “in it to win it”

Most of us like to win, but people who are driven by competition only get fired up when both the win and the opposition are clearly defined. They don’t just get excited about hitting a goal, their energy peaks when they are winning against a tough opponent or beating next to impossible odds. They are the warriors on your team, who thrive on the thrill of being up against the best and coming out on top.

  1. Collaboration – they thrive when working with others

For some of your team there is nothing that gets them fired up like the opportunity to be part of a collaborative effort to meet a challenge. They love the group dynamic of figuring things out and solving problems together. They feel most excited when everyone has a voice, everyone plays a part, and they get to experience the power of synergy at work. 

  1. Cause – they want to see how their work makes a difference

For some people the greatest incentive to ante up their greatest effort is the chance to see the change it makes in the lives of others. This might take the form of saving the planet or changing the world, but they’re also likely to get excited when they see that they can make the lives of their clients, customers, and co-workers less painful or more pleasurable. 

  1. Creative – novelty or innovation fires them up

Don’t confuse this language with the love of “being creative.” For these people the fire is all about the action of creation – bringing something new into being. They’re excited by new experiences, new ideas, new visions. They’re motivated by the opportunity to do something they’ve never done, figure out something they’ve never understood, or accomplish something they’ve never even attempted before. 

  1. Completion – they’ll stay on it until it’s “done”

There’s something about crossing a big task off the checklist, turning in that last report, hanging the certificate on the wall, or popping the cork on a bottle of bubbly that makes these people’s hearts beat a little faster. Their motivation is more about crossing the finish line than winning the race so it’s easy to undervalue the intense energy they bring to any challenge. 

Activating the energy of these Drivers is a sure path to supercharging your entire team, because when every individual is on fire the effect is cumulative and compounding and your team becomes unstoppable. 

For more actionable insights on The Human Team® and The 6 Facets of Human Needs™ download How to "Maximize Your Company’s Greatest Asset"