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Which came – first the chicken or the egg? Which came first – employee engagement or employee motivation ? Sales Leaders need to know the difference and the connection between employee engagement and motivation.

There is a whole industry out there preoccupied with defining the difference, but understanding the difference is not that hard.

Employee engagement

Engaged employees are a treasure. They enjoy their work and live to work. It intrigues, challenges, and satisfies them. The deeper into the work they are, the more they enjoy it.

They immerse themselves in tasks and completely understand teamwork. Engaged employees understand the business’s goals as something they want to share. They do not need carrots or sticks, but they would not refuse an occasional carrot.

  • Engaged workers do not work primarily for reward. They believe in what they do, and they feel they owe their employer 100%-plus in exchange for a fair wage. They work the way they do because it is the right thing to do. These people volunteer in the community where the only pay is personal self-satisfaction. This earnestness is what they bring to the table, and that means they are among the first at the table.
  • Engaged staff have stamina and persistence. They know their skill and willingly share what they have to accomplish a task. They keep their noses to the grindstone but rarely complain because that is their work ethic.
  • Engaged workers make the difference where they work. In craft circles, they refer to their specific skills as “the bones.” They protect and cozen their skills as crafts-persons, but they understand their work becomes the quality.

Employee motivationEmployee engagement and motivation

Motive makes people move. It prods them to proceed or take part. A worker who is motivated is drawn to a goal or pushed toward a finish.

  • Reward appeals to motivated people. It is external, and once the reward is removed, the motive disappears with it. They do not live to work. They trade their work for pay and incentives. They will not sign on or buy into anything that does not have the promise of reward.
  • The top performers feel they deserve the reward, and they expect a reciprocal escalation of reward. They know the rules and do what they can do to win the prize. They own the competition process in direct proportion to the size and weight of the reward. Once they win, their interest disappears.
  • Rewards that motivate performance do not always promote quality. Unless quality is a metric worked into the structure of a sales contest, the focus will be on the timeline and the finish line.

What we can learn about employee engagement and motivation ?

Engagement does not ignite until core needs – living wage, bonuses, and benefits – are satisfied. These things keep people working for you. Engagement needs a bit more: meaningful work, potential opportunity, and fair play.

Absent meaningful work, potential opportunity, and fair play, no number of prizes or awards will trigger better performance. On the other hand, if you fill that absence, you may not need to present contests as solutions.

In addition, filling that absence with sales promotions that lack clarity, promote favoritism, or provide unachievable metrics wastes employee commitment, business investment, and proves counter-productive.

The Sales Leader is tasked with employee engagement and motivation by:

  • framing the calendar for a sales contest
  • allowing fully 3-4 months development time prior to the start date devoted to identifying resolving core needs
  • structuring a contest that proceeds from a date beyond that resolution
  • defining the gamification and reward schedule
  • communicating purpose, rules, and metrics
  • launching contest and debriefing results when complete.

Engaged workers do not require motivation because engagement can be enough. Employee motivation succeeds largely as a companion to engagement and benefits from it. External carrots offer incentive but no guarantee of engagement. Please feel free to share our thoughts about employee engagement and motivation.

Image courtesy of bplanet/FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Cited sources:

Dent, F. H. (N/A, N/A N/A). Motivation and employee engagement in the 21st century from Ashridge Business School:

Jordan, P. (2013, December 26). Organization’s success and the employee engagement level  from repIGNITE.com

Marciano, P. (2011, May 13). Motivation vs. engagement from SmartBlog on Leadership

Scheffel, K. (2012, November 9). Engagement Versus Motivation from exploreB2B

Smith, P. (2012, May 3). Employee Engagement and Motivation: Kicks vs. Keeps from Human Capital Institute