Motivational Management 

By: Mike Crandall



Mike Crandall and his colleagues at Sandler Training have been in the business of generating better business results for their clients for a long time.

One of the main tenets of their sales training programs is that “people buy for their reasons, not ours.”

Similarly, the people you work with day in and day out show up each day for their own unique reasons. Understand these reasons, and you begin to understand how to motivate them.

That’s what this book is all about - how to identify each person’s unique motivating factors, and how to create a plan to generate better performance based on that understanding.

Some of the ideas you’ll learn here you’ve already heard before. But as Crandall reminds us, rather than dismissing it, ask yourself whether or not you’ve personalised that idea to a single individual, and if you’ve implemented that tool fully in your organisation.

Let’s get started.

What motivation is and why it matters

Here’s Crandall’s definition of motivation:

Motivation is identifying and leveraging incentives that are meaningful to a particular individual.

It’s all about understanding what’s going on under the surface. On the surface, most people will tell you they want the same things. Recognition, better pay, etc. But when you dig a little deeper, you start to understand why those things are truly important to people - those are the real motivators.

To explain, Crandall tells the story of the two young girls...

Maria and Amy are about to enter kindergarten. Each girl is thinking about the new school year, which starts tomorrow morning. Maria can’t sleep well. Amy can’t sleep well.

Maria can’t sleep because she’s so excited about the next day.
Amy can’t sleep because she’s so scared about the next day.

On the surface, we have 2 girls who can’t fall asleep. On the surface, the problem is the same in both instances, just like the people on your team wanting better pay or more recognition.

But if you want to be successful in getting both girls to sleep, you will need a different approach for each. Sure, you could tell them both that they’ll be tired at school tomorrow if they don’t fall asleep, but that wouldn’t get to the heart of the issue and calm their minds.

In the same way, you can’t just give a speech (or bring in a speaker to give a speech), and then check off the “motivation” box on your todo list.

You need to get deeper, and understand each individual in order to harness the true power of motivation.

You know this already, but the real question is whether or not you are doing it.

The 5 stages of growth

Crandall points out that human beings grow in 5 distinct stages.

First, you become aware of an issue. A question for people at this stage sounds something like “How do I become more dialled into what’s going on around me?”

Second, you get knowledge about how to solve your problem. Most people stop here, thinking that the problem is solved. The best managers, like you, drive on for 3 more stages.

Third, you apply what you’ve learned to our own specific circumstances. This means that you start doing something differently as a result of what you learned.

The fourth stage is skill development - where you continue to work on the changes you made in the third step and get better at it.

The fifth and last stage of growth is when it becomes a habit. At this stage, motivating your employees by understanding their individual motivations becomes like tying your shoes in the morning - you do it on autopilot.

In order to get you there, let’s start back at stage two and get some knowledge about motivating your employees as individuals.

The Old Way - The Carrot and Stick

Most people are familiar with the “carrot and stick” approaches to motivation, most often described by how you can motivate a donkey to take you to your destination. You can either incentivise performance (the carrot), or drive it through fear of punishment (the stick).

Rather than glossing over these two approaches, let’s deal with them now so we can compare them with a third approach - the desire to become a thoroughbred.

Incentive Programs

As Crandall points out, incentive programs work for some people, some of the time - but they rarely work for everyone. And in order for them to work, three conditions need to be present. Let’s continue with the donkey analogy here.

First, the donkey has to be hungry - there has to be a desire for the incentive.

Second (this is the one most managers miss), the load has to be light enough - they need to believe they can reach the finish line, assuming they know where that is.

And third, the carrot has to be big enough.

These are extremely hard to get right across an entire organisation, and the results are often disappointing. In fact, many incentive programs end up having the exact opposite effect - employees end up being demotivated and give less effort instead of more.

Fear Programs

Like incentive programs, fear-based programs can work in the short-term, if certain conditions are met.

First, that there is actually fear.

Second, people need to believe they can do what they are being asked to do.

And third, the stick is big enough - the punishment for non-performance needs to be big enough to motivate behaviour.

However, these almost rarely work in the long-term, and will actually drive employees away from your team or organisation in the long-run. Fear also has the unique ability to stifle creative and innovative thinking, typically requirements to achieve your goals in the first place.

The conclusion here is simple - you can do these programs and potentially generate short-term results, but they backfire just as often and never work in the long-term.

So let’s move on to what does work for both the short and the long term.

The New Way - Attitude Motivation

David Sandler - the founder of Sandler Training, has a metaphor that sums up what this third option is perfectly...

Here’s what attitude motivation is: It’s helping people run, not because they are donkeys chasing a carrot or donkeys trying to avoid the stick—but because they want to become thoroughbreds.

Or in other words, attitude motivation is getting people to work for their reasons, as opposed to your reasons.

Does this take more effort than the carrot and stick? Yes. But the power of having a team of people who each have a personal sense of purpose, who you do not need to incentivise or threaten to create stellar performance, is game changing. It’s also the only long-term solution that works.

Let’s get started by looking at what Crandall calls the five critical human motivators:

  • To DO. Some people are motivated by the possibility of achieving a certain goal for its own sake.
  • To BE. Some people are motivated by the possibility of self-actualisation—becoming the best and highest version of themselves.
  • To HAVE. Some people are motivated by the possibility of owning something specific or attaining a certain financial reward.
  • To ACCOMPLISH. Some people are motivated by a specific mission, experience, or life lesson that drives them to make a distinctive personal contribution in a particular area.
  • To BE KNOWN FOR. Some people are motivated by the recognition of others.

Crandall believes that people lean into one and only one of those motivators at a time. A person might shift from one to another as life moves forward, but on any given day, if he choses to move out of his comfort zone and into a new realm of possibility, he does so for one of those five reasons.

You might have a purpose or a vision statement for your team as a whole, but what you are after is the personal purpose of each individual. You are likely to find it in one of the five motivators above.

Connecting, personally

Of course, people don’t come to work wearing signs that list their critical motivators with supporting details. You have to uncover that kind of stuff, and you need to create a culture where they feel comfortable sharing their inner desires.

Luckily, you don’t need a masters degree in psychology to get there.

Instead, try asking your team for a list of their favourite things. Favourite movies, type of vacation, hobbies, candy bar, music, etc. From here, all you need to do is a couple of things.

First, if you are going to use extrinsic rewards, give them their favourite things.

Second, be interested in learning why those things are their favourites - it shows you care about them as people, which means they’ll open up to you more, which means you’ll understand them better, which means you can learn how to best motivate them to better performance.

It’s magical what being interested in somebody as a human being will do for you. You might even consider having everybody on your team sharing “favourites” with each other.

Finding their Purpose

There are many ways you can uncover the personal purpose of each of your employees.

One way is to get them to create a personal vision board, where they put images that represent their personal and professional goals. Some people will put their dream house on it, or a picture of mountains they want to climb someday, and anything else that they are looking forward to achieving in the future.

Now, whether or not you use a vision board or some other mechanism, the power in the exercise is that you get your team to dream about their future, and that you both have a way of checking back in with that dream on a regular basis.

Now you have a tool to connect their day-to-day performance in their job back to their biggest hopes and dreams. Imagine the power in having that type of information at your fingertips.

Understanding Behavioural Wiring

Lastly, if you want to master motivating your team to do their best work, you’ll want to understand how they most want to interact with one another.

DISC is a behavioural model that gives you insight into the participatory style an individual most closely aligns with. There are 4 of them:

  • Dominant: these people are extroverted, and like to be in charge of situations. They usually don’t like small talk, and like to win and get ahead. With these types of people, you should stick to business, and use a results-orientated approach.
  • Influencer: these people are personable and trusting. They like to be liked, and are eager team players. They can be impulsive and intuitive, and are not logical decision makers. As Crandall says, they don’t get down to business, they get around to business.
  • Steady Relator: these people are amiable, patient people who know how to keep the peace and avoid conflict. They don’t like changes or surprises. They are loyal, but they often don’t reveal their true feelings.
  • Compliant: these people are cautious thinkers. They are detail-orientated perfectionists, and are always busy getting one more fact in search of the perfect answer.

We don’t have the time in this summary to go into these styles into detail, and if you are going to use a tool like this, make sure to get your people to take the assessments first. Blindly identifying which person connects with which style is a recipe for disaster.


We’ve covered as much ground as we can in this summary, and you now have a framework for building rapport with your team so they’ll share their hopes and dreams, so you can connect their day-to-day work towards their own personal purpose.

You also know that you can dig even deeper to learn how each person is wired behaviourally, so you can relate to them in a way that they can understand.

All that’s left now is the heavy lifting - applying what you just learned, turning it into tangible skills, and finally, making them habits you use every day to better the performance of your team.

If you want to do more of this in your business, connect with your local Sandler training consultant - they’ll know what to do next.