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Workplace blogs

Employee Motivation Starts With the Why

Guest post by Merge Gupta Sunderji.

People often think that you need big budgets to motivate employees.  Not true.  There are scads of zero-cost or inexpensive ways to motivate employees, and here’s one – tell people why!  This may sound really obvious, but it often gets missed.  I repeatedly see managers and supervisors issuing edicts to staff without telling them “why”, without explaining the logic behind the decision.  And this seemingly small lack of information leads to huge demotivation. 

Let’s face it, you didn’t buy “because I said so” when you were three years old, so why should you as an adult?  Employees appreciate understanding the reasons behind decisions, and perhaps more importantly, it’s hugely motivating … in two ways.  First, when you take the time to explain the reasoning behind a decision, it demonstrates that you respect your staff’s intelligence and abilities.  Second, a dialogue about “why” inevitably involves your employee and thus creates greater commitment to the action and subsequent results.

Now most managers don’t withhold this information deliberately; it’s just that it takes time to do so, and everybody is busy.  In the moment, it seems far easier to just tell people what to do, right?  Wrong.  Take the time to tell people why, and you’ll find that you’ll achieve your intended outcome quicker and more easily than if you just issue orders.

Copyright Merge Gupta Sunderji. Merge is one the four outstanding professional speakers who will be speaking this November 15, 2017 at the Customer Service Leadership Summit in Calgary, Alberta. To book tickets for you and your team head on over to Customer Service Leadership Summit 


  1. Comment by Kristin Peturson-Laprise

    Bravo! I’ve always thought that “why” was extremely important – as you said, we want to know things as kids, why would we not want to know our motivation as adults?
    I think “why” goes from explaining single task motivation to the culture of a company. Why do we do have the policies we do? – Hopefully, because they fit with the philosophy of the company.

  2. Comment by Michael Kerr

    Totally agree Kristin. It’s so simple, yet so often forgotten!

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