determination 2 1200pxThere are always going to be times when you need to more from your team. It may be your busy season, or maybe your firm has made headcount cuts – but the workload has stayed the same. In this blog post, Jon Baker, considers how to squeeze the proverbial blood out of a stone.

As the person in charge of a team you have two options:

  • Shout, rant and make their life a misery (we’ve all experienced partners who work this way!)
  • Motivate them to want to work harder

There are times when I’ve needed to push my teams quite hard, I know it can work – but only ever in the short term. So I’d only do it where really needed. The rest of the time it’s down to them to work hard, you can’t make them want to, you can’t actually make them work hard – so your role as a leader is to make them want to work hard. It’s a bit like having a child who is studying for their “A-levels”, you can see why it’s important, you can’t make them do it and that can be really frustrating. You may find our free guide to briefing your team, (email required) helps you to get your messages across. guide to team briefing copy 200x

This article is based around some discussions I’ve recently had with partners in different firms  about the idea of “the bonus” and other rewards.

Effort, Performance and Reward.

There may be several reasons why somebody would choose to work hard, but I wanted to pick on one factor – rewards. Remember that rewards may mean different things to different people – money, flexibility, free time, recognition, appreciation, promotion…

Motivation and Victor Vroom

Victor Vroom has written books on motivation and his primary research was on the expectancy theory of motivation. I explained the following three steps from Vroom’s theory of motivation to both of the partners I was chatting to; they suddenly went “Aha, that makes sense”. Like so many things that make sense, we often don’t think of them!

3 essential steps to helping with motivation


  1. Expectancy: Effort will lead to performance. If the person doesn’t believe that working harder and putting in effort will improve performance, they’ll stop doing it. This was the problem at the first firm; they had adjusted the system and process, so that harder work was not producing results– because nobody really understood the new process! No matter how big the reward, they couldn’t see how to improve their performance – result, no improvement.
  2. Instrumentality: Instrumentality is the belief that a person will receive a reward if the performance expectation is met. I don’t know about you, but I’ve worked in firms where I’ve not believed in their intention to pay the bonus – result I don’t believe it and don’t strive for it.
  3. Valence: The value the individual places on the rewards. This is where it gets interesting. I’ve never really been geed up by large bonus offers, as I am (generally speaking) not motivated by money. How about you? One firm I know all go on a joint skiing trip each year, if the performance target is met. It’s a young firm and they are all keen skiers, this works really well.

This process makes sense to me and I’ve seen it work well. It’s also explained the time when rewards haven’t worked. I do know that where performance has been properly linked to reward it has produced better performance. You may find that running a team day helps to communicate how performance is linked to reward. You may like to download our free guide to briefing your team.

What would motivate your team and how can you link it to performance?

Jon BakerJon Baker is a Business Coach, Sales Trainer and Experienced Public Speaker who specialises in working with partners and potential partners from small firms – typically up to 10 partner practices. He helps the professionals with 5 to 50 staff improve their performance and grow their firm, sustainably, profitably and whilst enjoying the experience.


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