When it comes to approaching performance motivation, it can be tricky to distinguish what works for each of your employees. Competition, challenge, recognition, team inclusion, productivity, societal purpose, are some of the most common performance motivators.

Everyone is motivated by different things, but it is vital to your company’s performance and growth that you discover what those things are for your team… So how do you do that?

The most straightforward approach you can try is asking employees directly. While most employees don’t directly say things such as, “I am motivated by competition” or, “I am motivated by productivity”, they may reply in a variety of sentiments that allow you some insight. For instance if you ask them what stands out to them over the last few months and they reply with, “I really enjoyed when the CEO came to deliver our performance award”, they are likely to be motivated by recognition.

If that method seems too direct or proves unsuccessful, change your approach. Instead of asking, try posing more specific statements that will help you observe the answer. Asking team members things such as, “What do you look forward to at work?” or “What projects have you enjoyed over the last six months?” will help you define the kind of work that they not only enjoy, but are more likely to work hard on and invest their time in. This additionally informs you as a leader to the changes you can implement to motivate your workers, and how to change the flow of your work environment.

With an employee motivated by recognition, there are little changes you can make. For an employee motivated that way, any sign of recognition is a good one from making public comments of approval, to holding “awards” ceremony where you hand out certificates of appreciation.

Of course, those methods won’t be well-suited for everyone, such as shy employees. There are various personality factors to consider when customizing the motivation for your employees. For more introverted employees who are motivated by recognition, try an email stating your appreciation for their hard work. Taking the time to really consider both their personality and motivation style will make you a well respected and noteworthy leader.