Have you ever wondered if anything can get your employees to care about the work they’re doing?

Managers who are self-starters, who enjoy and are motivated by the work they do and the organization they work for, are sometimes puzzled by the perceived lack of motivation of their subordinates. The operative word here is “perceived”, because they may, in fact, be motivated — just not in the same way as you.

If you think about it realistically, you don’t necessarily want them to love the work, do you? What you expect is that they perform well on the job and contribute to the success of your department. They can do that without being cheerleaders, because everyone is motivated by something. It’s a matter of finding out what it is.

Here are a few of the causes that might make your people tick:

* Approval and validation

In his groundbreaking 1982 fable, “The One Minute Manager”, Ken Blanchard urged managers to “catch them doing something right.” The idea was to give immediate positive feedback to people, which immediately makes them feel valued. Many people long for approval and validation, and will work hard to achieve a goal that will provide it for them. Your job is to provide positive strokes whenever possible.

* Competition

The sales environment is the obvious place to see competition among colleagues and peers. Often it’s their competitive nature that makes great salespeople. But this personality trait is not confined to one discipline, and some people will perform well on the job in order to be seen as the best. This can be tricky to manage, and your job is to enable an outlet for this need in one employee without creating enmity in the others.

* Career ambition

These people want to move up in the world, either in your organization or another. If they can clearly see the relationship between their performance in their current positions and the chance of promotion, that will do it for them. Your job is to help them see the possibilities.

* Money

Let’s face it, financial compensation is an important reason to work in the first place, and there’s nothing wrong with that. For some employees, it’s a powerful incentive and motivation. Your job is to demonstrate the connection between on-the-job achievement and compensation. Of course, if you can’t legitimately show that because it’s not there, you may have an employee who will never be motivated in that position.

As a manager, you need to find out what motivates the individuals that make up your team, and then do what you can to help them make performance on the job the factor that satisfies their particular needs.

Remember, what is rewarded is repeated. It’s a matter of discovering and offering the right rewards.

Helen Wilkie is a professional keynote speaker, workshop leader, author and Official Guide for The Manager’s Journey. Visit http://www.mhwcom.com and subscribe to Helen’s free e-zine, “Communi-keys”, and get your free 40-page e-book, “23 Ideas You Can Use RIGHT NOW to Communicate and Succeed In Your Business Career!”