The most efficient tools to motivate your employees

We often hear complaints from clients at the managerial level that it is difficult for them to motivate their subordinates.

Different people look for different things.  There is no absolute method that can prove to be 100% effective in motivating people.

However, one of the most feasible guidelines is to give your employees what they need as a reward.  This is an effective approach that is proven by the domain of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (“NLP”).

Meta Program – The “Towards” and “Away from” types

The “towards” and “away from” behavioral patterns are one of the Meta Programs under the NLP.   It claimed that we are born to have two quite different behavioral patterns in acting with environments, people, and things.

The “Towards” type

People who tend more to be a “towards” type like to get closer to the environments, people, and things they like.  They are active, positive, enthusiastic, and energetic.  They are also target-oriented and result-driven.

What they need are good things.  This applies more apparently to Generation Y or Millennials (born from 1977–1994 with age 24–41 in 2018) who are said to be aggressively ambitious and impatient for promotion.   They also desire praise, success, and a sense of achievement.

Examples of good things to Millennials are:

  • Pay and promotion
  • Good work/life balance
  • Opportunities to progress/be leaders
  • Flexibility i.e. remote working, flexible hours
  • Sense of meaning from work
(Source: The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey)

The “Away from” type

People who are “away from” type tend to escape from the environments, people, and things they dislike.  They will try to avoid bad things to happen to them.  What can drive them to move is to assure them that bad things will not come to them.

The “away from” type appears mostly on Generation X (“Gen Xers”) (born from 1966-1976 with age 42-52 in 2018) as they are often characterized by high levels of skepticism.  Unlike older generations, the Gen Xers work to live rather than live to work.  As of 2010, their assets were statistically double their debts.  They are afraid of a loss of financial and work independence.

Examples of bad things to Gen Xers are:

  • Losing clients
  • Reduced profitability
  • Losing millennial employees (turnover) in support roles
  • Lack of support from work done
  • Not having time for their families and personal lives

(Source: Forbes 2018)

What is the mechanism behind it?

If a leader or a manager promises not to let his “towards” type employee encounter bad things, the latter does not feel any good thing will happen to him.  He is then not being motivated to work harder.

If a leader or a manager gives good rewards to an “away from” type employee, say promotion to a higher post, the employee will be stressed as he is aware that he is not being adequately prepared for major leadership roles.  The employee will not drive himself to work like this may be a “bad thing” to him.

The “toward” and “away from” behavioral pattern is in fact a game of pleasure and pain. If the management does not care about the chemistry of how good and bad things work on “towards” and “away from” types of employees, they are simply damaging working morale and decreasing productivity of the latter.


 The Gen Xers and Millennials occupy a significant share of the labor market on one hand and play a dominant role in future business development on the other hand.  If leaders or managers can figure out what kind of tendency each employee is, and then tailor-made the most appropriate incentives for him, motivation is not a miracle, but a win-win cycle.

The Destiny Team