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July 20th, 2016

Many motivational theories focus on the employers’ role to provide something in exchange for something else. For example, Adam’s Equity Theory is based on the notion that people trade something that is valuable to their employer (e.g. their time, effort, ability, loyalty, commitment, flexibility, etc.) for something that is of value to them (e.g. pay, benefits, security, recognitions, responsibility etc.). This model is consistent with the concept of Transactional Leadership (Burns Bass et al).shutterstock_229157557

Other theories focus on meeting needs that vary in their relative importance to most people. Maslow states that we need to fulfil our biological and physiological needs before we can start to look to higher things; Heztberg talks of hygiene factors that need to be addressed before true motivators come into play.

I know that when I ask any group of people why they come to work the first answer is always money!!



yes yes yes


However in these uncertain times, many of us find ourselves in jobs where greater financial rewards are no longer taken for granted. Regular ‘cost of living’ rises and automatic  steps up the pay scale are a fond memory and many more of us are rewarded on results. In an uncertain employment market any job is a good one. Yet the need to attract, retain and get the best from the best people has never been greater. Managers are expected to become ‘Transformational Leaders’, influencing both the evolution of the business and the magical conversion of their team members into super-humans.

So where does Learning and Development fit into motivating and engaging people? Is it worth spending tight budgets on training courses, let alone long term organisational development programmes? Can employers ask people to do more when there appears to be no tangible benefit to them? Can people learn and be brave enough to try to apply that learning when they are worrying about paying the mortgage?

The answer has to be yes, yes, yes!

Generate clear ‘lines of sight’

Today organisations take care to generate clear ‘lines of sight’ from strategic goals to business plans and personal and/or team objectives. For most people, achieving these objectives usually involves doing different things and doing things differently. Without the requisite technical knowledge and practical skills people will waste valuable time experimenting. This risks inefficiency at best, disengagement at worst. Linking learning and development directly to measurable and quantifiable objectives ensures best value for the money (and effort) invested in employees.

Investment in your people

Investing in people’s future makes a huge statement about how much they are valued, both as an asset to the business and as individuals worthy of that investment. Stressing the importance of someone’s personal development within the context of achieving the organisation’s long-term objectives gives them a greater opportunity to contribute directly to the success of the organisation, and therefore affect their own situation. In addition, creating and sustaining an environment where people are encouraged to seek out new ways to do things (and supported when they don’t quite get it right first time) helps them to feel more secure in both their job and their future.


Measuring the value and outcome of learning and development is critical to establish and reinforce the commercial value of a competent workforce. Spreading positive messages to the wider workforce about where learning and development has had a clear benefit for the business, and for the individuals concerned, will build confidence and enable people to focus on getting the best job done.

If you’d like to know more about this topic or need help with other performance or leadership issues, give us a call and we’d be happy to help.

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