What an Entrepreneur must know about motivating staff in
the context of a startup venture
An Entrepreneur is someone who manages a business, takes risks and uses initiative to make it
successful. One distinguishing mark of an entrepreneur is that they focus on a niche or opportunity that
has as yet been unfulfilled or not been exploited properly, either because there is still room in the
marketplace for one more, or is very new and not yet noticed by the more established companies 1.
Among the basic skills that an Entrepreneur ought to possess, motivational skill is one of the key skills
required inorder to drive results.
Motivation is defined as a driving force that initiates and directs behavior. In other words, motivation
is a kind of internal energy which drives a person to do something in order to achieve something. It is a
temporal or dynamic state within a person2. Motivation is the process of boosting the morale of
employees to encourage them to willingly give their best in accomplishing assigned tasks. Employee
motivation is key to achieving extraordinary results. Motivation is the combination of a person's desire
and energy directed at achieving a goal. It is the cause of action. Influencing people's motivation means
getting then to want to do what you know must be done. Often an employee knows how to perform
correctly, the process is good, and all resources are available, but for one reason or another, chooses
not to do so, which normally means it is a motivational issue. While many jobs have problems that are
inherent to the position, it is the problems that are inherent to the person that normally cause us to
loose focus from our main task of getting results. These motivational problems could arrive from
family pressures, personality conflicts, a lack of understanding on how the behavior affects other
people or process, etc3.
Motivated employees are imperative in rapidly changing workplaces. Motivated employees are
extremely productive and help organizations survive. To be effective, Entrepreneurs need to
understand what motivates employees within the context
of the roles they perform. Of all the functions an
Entrepreneur performs, motivating employees is arguably
the most complex. This is due, in part, to the fact that
what motivates employees changes constantly. For
example, research suggests that as employees' income
increases, money becomes less of a motivator. Also, as
employees get older, interesting work becomes more of a
motivator4. Thus, it can be stated that Motivation results
in influx of positive energy which translates into positive
actions performed by the employees, resulting in success
for the organization, thus making it important for
Entrepreneurs to hone the skill of Motivating employees.
In order to understand the various methods that can be
employed to motivate an employee, it is important to first comprehend which motivation method can
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Thus, it is imperative to understand few Motivational Theories.
best suit various employees. Needs
Nazir Daud - Ezine Articles - http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Definition-of-Entrepreneur&id=1273801
Richard Romando - Ezine Articles - http://ezinearticles.com/?Define-Motivation&id=410696
NWLink - http://www.nwlink.com/~Donclark/performance/motivation.html
James R. Lindner - Understanding Employee Motivation - http://www.joe.org/joe/1998june/rb3.php
Maslow's hierarchy of needs is used
extensively in understanding human
motivation and is predetermined in order of
importance. It is depicted as a pyramid
consisting of five levels: the lowest level is
associated with physiological needs, while
the uppermost level is associated with self-
actualization needs, particularly those
related to identity and purpose. The higher
needs in this hierarchy only come into
focus when the lower needs in the pyramid
are met. Once an individual has moved
upwards to the next level, needs in the
lower level will no longer be prioritized. If
a lower set of needs is no longer being met, the individual will temporarily re-prioritize those needs by
focusing attention on the unfulfilled needs, but will not permanently regress to the lower level.
Maslow's ideas surrounding the Hierarchy of Needs concerning the responsibility of employers to
provide a workplace environment that encourages and enables employees to fulfill their own unique
potential (self-actualization) are today more relevant than ever. Maslow's concept of self-actualization
relates directly to the present day challenges and opportunities for employers and organizations - to
provide real meaning, purpose and true personal development for their employees5. Before using any
tool to motivate an employee, Entrepreneur must first ascertain at which level of need is the employee
currently lying in and employ the relevant tool.
Theory X and Theory Y
Theory X and Theory Y are theories of human motivation created and developed by Douglas
McGregor and have been used in human resource management, organizational behavior, organizational
communication and organizational development. They describe two very different attitudes toward
Theory X, which many managers practice, postulates that management assumes employees are
inherently lazy and will avoid work if they can. They inherently dislike work. Because of this, workers
need to be closely supervised and comprehensive systems of controls developed. A hierarchical
structure is needed with narrow span of control at each and every level. According to this theory,
employees will show little ambition without an enticing incentive program and will avoid
responsibility whenever they can.
Theory Y postulates that management assumes employees may be ambitious and self-motivated and
exercise self-control. It is believed that employees enjoy their mental and physical work duties. They
possess the ability for creative problem solving, but their talents are underused in most organizations.
Given the proper conditions, theory Y managers believe that employees will learn to seek out and
accept responsibility and to exercise self-control and self-direction in accomplishing objectives to
which they are committed. A Theory Y manager believes that, given the right conditions, most people
will want to do well at work. They believe that the satisfaction of doing a good job is a strong
motivation. Many people interpret Theory Y as a positive set of beliefs about workers6.
BusinessBalls - http://www.businessballs.com/maslow.htm
Business Balls - http://www.businessballs.com/mcgregor.htm
Having learnt about two of the main theories of motivation, let us review the various methods of
motivating employees. Broadly categorizing, there are two main methods of motivating employees by
providing incentives - Financial Incentives & Non-Financial Incentives.
The following chart displays the various methods of motivating employees: -
Although some theorists like Herzberg believe that money is not a positive motivator (although lack of
it can de-motivate), pay systems are designed to motivate employees. Theory X approach, in particular,
argues that workers respond to financial rewards7.
Time rates are used when employees are paid for the amount of time they spend at work. Time
worked over this standard is known as overtime. Overtime is generally paid at a higher rate than the
standard time-rate – reflecting the element of sacrifice by an employee.
Piece-rate pay gives a payment for each item produced – it is therefore the easiest way for a business
to ensure that employees are paid for the amount of work they do. Piece-rate pay encourages effort,
but, it is argued, often at the expense of quality.
Commission is a payment made to employees based on the value of sales achieved. It can form all or
part of a pay package. Commission is, therefore, a form of “incentive pay”. The main advantage of
commission from an employee’s point-of-view is that it enables high performing sales people to earn
huge amounts. The main advantage to the employer is that the payroll cost is related to the value of
business achieved rather than just the amount produced.
Performance-related pay is a financial reward to employees whose work is either considered to have
reached a required standard, and/or is above average. Performance related pay is generally used where
employee performance cannot be appropriately measured in terms of output produced or sales
achieved. Performance-related pay has grown widely in recent years – particularly in the public sector.
This is part of a movement towards rewarding individual performance which reflects individual
Employee Share Ownership is an increasingly popular part of pay packages – particularly for
businesses whose shares are traded on a stock exchange. Offering shares is a more complicated kind of
Tutor2U - http://www.tutor2u.net/business/people/motivation_financial_minimumwage.asp
reward than paying employees cash. However, it can be much more effective in linking the objectives
of the business and the objectives of employees.
Pension is an arrangement to provide people with an income when they are no longer earning a regular
income from employment. The terms retirement plan or superannuation refer to a pension granted
upon retirement. This is an effective method is ensuring a long lasting relationship with the employees.
It may be perceived that money is an effective motivator in your business although it may have some
effect in the short term: employees may also see factors aside from money as prime motivators,
especially for Theory Y employees8.
Job Enlargement- This involves expanding the job of an employee that has them doing more work of
a similar nature to what they already do. This may be allowing them to complete the whole task instead
of just part of it. This process ideally allows them to complete the whole process, thus increasing their
Job Rotation- This involves allowing employees to change the nature of their job periodically. The
purpose of this is that the employee is satisfied by reduced boredom and also motivated by the
achievement of increased skills. The business owner gains from cross-training and the potential for
feed-back and improvement ideas.
Job Enrichment- An Entrepreneur can enrich an employee's job by expanding their tasks to give a
higher level of responsibility in the nature of work they do. This will not only expand their skills, but
also give them an increased challenge (responsibility).
Apart from all these techniques, what also must be noted that the primary objective of an Entrepreneur
must be to instill confidence and enthusiasm within his employees. Since, the Entrepreneur is starting
with a new venture; the employees will be highly skeptical regarding the success of the startup and
would be concerned about their own growth. Hence, the Entrepreneur should take few small measures
that would instill confidence and boost employee morale.
Demonstrate enthusiasm - In many ways, an Entrepreneur sets the tone for his employees. If he is not
motivated, he can very well expect his employees also to be unmotivated.
Interface with employees - It's important that an Entrepreneur interacts directly with his employees on
a regular basis. A prolonged pattern of distance between him and his employees creates the perception
of a cold, uncaring autocrat rather than the caring, compassionate leader.
Celebrate accomplishments - Take time out to celebrate accomplishments as a company. When
you've asked your employees to go the extra mile to complete a major project, it's not unreasonable for
them to expect to celebrate a little bit.
Treat employees with kindness - Kindness and understanding on the Entrepreneur's part will go a
long way toward motivating your employees to help you achieve your goals as an entrepreneur. As
much as possible, try to give your employees the space they need to care for their families.
Listen - Above all else, listen to what your employees' have to say and let them know how much you
value their input. The loyalty it inspires in your employees will make it well worth your while.
Thus, it can be concluded that motivating employees is key to success and every Entrepreneur should
have the requisite skills and knowledge inorder to motivate the employees to influence them to work to
their fullest possible potential.
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