Today’s digital economy requires organizations to find new ways to inspire their employees, and that starts with Future Work Now.

Inspiring people through developing people yields incredible value for stakeholders, customers and employees alike.

We are all motivated by unique desires, expectations, and interests, but there are still overarching expectations – “What’s in it for me?” – that trigger their motivation.

If someone asked you for a good synonym for inspiration, what would you say? 
Some might answer stimulation, drive. 
Others might choose influence or encouragement. 

But by and large, when people think of inspiration, the word that immediately comes to mind is motivation.

It’s a misconception that you can motivate your employees. They’re already motivated. The key is to unleash their motivation.

So do we trigger motivation and inspire them?

Here are seven principles for inspiring your employees.

1. Authenticity— get out of the image management business for yourself and your company. Share with the people in your organisation where you are weak. Verbally express just how much you need them. Let them know that you know your limitations. Invite them to partner with you to get through these difficult times.
2. Connect with other’s dreams— use these difficult times to uncover the latent dreams and ambitions of your key talent. Tell them you are more committed than ever to helping them get to where they want to go. Be creative in aligning their tasks for today with their dreams for tomorrow.
3. See in others the abilities they don’t see in themselves— take time to be observant. Quit the craziness long enough to notice the talent in those around you. This even works if you are trying to manage up. This principle works best by breaking it down into three steps: notice, name and nurture. After you have noticed a talent or strength in a person, let them know you noticed it and be specific about what you noticed. Don’t just say “I noticed you are a hard worker.” Rather, “I notice you care very deeply about making sure the details are in order” or “I notice you are very articulate on that subject.” Look for ways to bring that talent out by providing opportunities and training to support that particular talent.
4. Speak and live with credibility— I also refer to this principle as leading with moral authority. It does not mean much for you to say “let’s keep looking for the opportunity ahead” while living in fear and operating with a scarcity mentality.
5. Inspire with great stories— this is the principle of overhearing. This is not to be confused with the art of storytelling. The emphasis here is looking and telling stories that have a lesson. What can you learn from the story of a mountain climber? What can you glean from the story of one who has gone from rags to riches or better yet, from riches to rags? Pull your team together today and use story to inspire.
6. Help people to live on purpose— remind them that what happens at work is only a portion of their life. As important as that portion is, it is not all that there is to life. Help people write down a vision statement for their life first and then for their job. If work can be a conduit towards that vision for life, great!
7. Create a culture of inspiration— following the example of John Wooden, UCLA’s iconic coach, become teachers committed to excellence and character development. Chasing numbers and making decisions by looking only at the ‘bottom line’ causes us to be reactive and impulsive.


“What’s in it for me?”

When it comes to motivating others, tapping into what they need and how they want to be treated is a key factor in making a connection and prompting action.

According to Joe Wilner, following the principle of “What’s in it for me?” offers a valuable approach to begin satisfying others needs and to spur lasting motivation.

From this perspective we are all motivated by personal interest, and want to see the value in what we are doing. Learning to treat and interact with people in the way they want to be treated offers valuable leverage to influence them in a positive manner.

By uncovering this information you can connect with others in the most effect way by treating them how they want to be treated.

Almost anyone you’re dealing with should fit somewhere in the six needs below.

The need for autonomy

This is the need to have control and be a causal agent in our environment. Individuals with this need and personality trait are often self-reliant, self-motivated, and desire to work on their own schedule. You will notice these types of individuals tend to be independent, creative, and nonlinear thinkers. In order to really be motivated they need to have freedom to do things their way and on their time. If you are working with someone of this nature their motivation will be stifled if they are placed within strict boundaries.

The need for power

This need refers to the level of importance and influence someone desires. People with this need and personality trait would rather take charge of a situation and can effectively do so. They are often strong in expressing their opinions and reaching goals. When around people who tend to elicit control and take the lead it can be helpful to offer them an influential role in what they are doing. These people desire to be leaders and will not be motivated by a submissive and inhibited role.

The need for achievement

Many people are motivated by the successful completion of projects and activities. So, be aware that someone with a need for achievement is likely to have high aspirations and be ambitious, and just as the label implies are very achievement-oriented. If someone has a need for achievement, help them to apply their talents and strengths in order to accomplish goals and attain success. They will be motivated by seeing progress occur.

The need for affiliation

We are social creatures and want to be connected to others. Particularly, for more extroverted individuals, the need for affiliation is a major a factor in motivation. They derive energy from being a part of a group and interacting with others, and you can expect them to be very open and expressive. Realize the importance of relationships and socializing as a source of motivation for these people and make them a part of tasks or activities where they will be interacting with others.

The need for esteem

Many people need validation and confirmation about the quality of their work. This provides insight that they’re doing their work effectively and successfully. People who have a need for esteem can be motivated by being shown recognition and respect. These individuals want to feel that they are doing a good job and that they’re appreciated for their efforts. Offering public praise and positive reinforcement can really be effective to motive someone with this need.

The need for equity
Knowing we are being treated fairly can be a major factor in our emotional state and hence our level of motivation. Showing people there is mutual benefit and value from everyone’s contributions can be very effective in managing dynamics within teams and groups. When it seems others are getting much better treatment we can develop a negative perception that really dampens motivation. Making a concerted effort to treat people the same and not provide preferential treatment will serve you well in motivating almost anyone that believes in the virtue of equity.


By being observant and aware of peoples’ behaviors and tendencies you can learn what makes them tick and begin to interact with them in the most effective way, and your interactions will be much more positive and productive.

Terry Barber is a speaker and corporate trainer and founder of Inspiration Blvd., LLC.

Joe Wilner is a coaching and writer who manages, where he inspires and empowers people to live a full, meaningful, and thriving life.