Understanding Staff Motivation

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Overview and concepts

Many headteachers today are not aware of the effects that motivation can have on your school. It is, therefore, important that they learn and understand the factors that determine positive motivation in the workplace. Motivation is something that is approached differently by different headteachers and the responsibility for it lies with everyone in the leadership team. However, it is the headteacher as the main leader who must ensure that motivation is used as a strategy to reach the school vision.

What is Motivation?

Motivation is the force that moves us to do things: this is a result of our individual needs being satisfied so that we have the inspiration to complete the task. These needs vary from person to person as everybody has individual needs to motivate themselves. Our level of motivation may determine the effort we put into our work and therefore increases the standard of the output.

When people suggest factors that determine the motivation of employees in the workplace, almost everything immediately thinks of a high salary. This is correct to a certain extent, as some employees are motivated by money, but mostly wrong for the reason that is doesn’t satisfy others in the long-term. Motivation is a personal thing, and so there is no one approach that works for everyone.

The importance of Motivation

Motivation can have an effect on the success of your school and concerns both the quantity and quality of your output. Your school success relies primarily on the effectiveness of your staff to make sure that the children are nurtured and can fulfill their potential. If these teachers lack the motivation to meet the high demands of education, then you face a problem leading to disastrous consequences.

Your staff is your greatest asset that no matter how efficient your technology and equipment is, it is not as important as the effectiveness of your staff.

In today’s turbulent environment, success depends on staff using their full talents. Yet in spite of all the available theories and practices, School leaders and managers often view motivation as something of a mystery. In power, this is because individuals are motivated by different things and in different ways.

Twyla Dell writes of motivating employees:

“The heart of motivation is to give people what they really want most from work. The more you are able to provide what they want, the more you should expect what you really want, namely: productivity, quality, and service.”

Advantages of Staff Motivation

Effective motivation in a school will improve student achievement and attainment.

Motivation helps people:

  1. Achieve Goals:
  2. Gain a positive perspective:
  3. Create the power to Change:
  4. Build self-esteem and Capability:
  5. Manage their own development and help others with theirs.

Disadvantages of Staff Motivation

There are no real disadvantages to successfully motivating staff, but there are many barriers to overcome.

Barriers may include ineffective managers, inadequate buildings and outdated equipment. A major barrier can also be deeply held attitudes, for example:

  1. We don’t get paid extra to work harder.
  2. We have always done it this way.
  3. Our bosses don’t have a clue about what we do.
  4. It doesn’t say that in my job description.
  5. I’m going to do as little as possible without getting fired.

It will take persuasion, perseverance, and proof of experience to change such views.


The aim of this article was to help you as a leader. And also to understand the importance and effects of motivation by identifying the key factors that determine the level of motivation in your staff. These factors are linked directly to their individual needs, behavior, and attitudes. Now we can easily define the importance of motivation. And we are able to consider the options a leader has when staff is demotivated.

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