How can you motivate your employees?  Most business owners would quickly reply with “money.”  And while money certainly plays a role, the truth is more complicated than that.  As Dan Pink explains in this fascinating video, money will only take you so far.  Beyond money, there are three components that must be present to truly get the best out of your employees: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.

Autonomy simply refers to the ability to make decisions for yourself. Give your employees a task (or set of tasks) but grant them the freedom to accomplish the task as they see fit. Some companies have given their employees freedoms like working from home a few days a week or telecommuting.  Others have implemented things like flex scheduling, allowing employees to leave the office for hours at a time and come back to work whenever they wish as long as their work is done. You don’t need to grant every wish to your employees, but if you allow them more control over their own schedule and way of doing work, you are more likely to get their best work.

Mastery is another important component of motivation. Give your employees the chance to become a master at something, no matter how simple.  The process of becoming an expert at anything is an exhilarating and motivating experience for all of us. People are driven to learn, even if they aren’t paid to do so!  Give your employees the chance to master a process or a task and watch their production soar.

Perhaps most importantly, each of us needs a sense of purpose in order to consistently perform at a high level.  What reasons do you provide to your employees to come to work each day?  A paycheck?  If that’s it, don’t expect your employees to even come close to reaching their full potential.  Your employees need a larger goal to shoot for.  Apple is dedicated to improving the lives of their customers through technological innovation.  Starbucks donates a portion of their profits each year to a variety of worldwide causes.  As a result, their employees are working for more than a paycheck—they are truly having a positive impact on the world around them.  What are your employees working for?

If you want to get the most from your employees, you need to do more than just pay them well. Provide autonomy whenever you can, the opportunity to master tasks and processes, and a cause for each employee to work towards—and you’ll be well on the way to empowering your employees and maximizing their productivity.

Thoughts on this subject? How have you been able to keep your employees motivated? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!