Preparing for Instructions 3 – Motivation

Top 5 Tips To Motivate Employees

Motivation is a huge factor in gaining new knowledge. While there are several options on how to approach this subject, I decided to use myself as an example of the adult learner and investigate my motivating factors to learn and to teach.
First, I asked myself: “What is motivation?” The simplest answers can be found in any dictionary (i.e. The New Penguin English Dictionary) and are as follows (noun): “1. The act or an instance of motivating or being motivated. 2. A motivating force, influence, or incentive that directs one’s action towards achieving a desired goal; a motive. 3. Enthusiasm or drive” (Penguin Books, 2000. P.904).
Meriam and Bierma (2014) stated that motivation is a fluid and complex phenomenon (Meriam & Bierma, 2014, p.146), whereas Madsen and Wilson (2008) claimed that the motivation to learn and change is crucial to improving employees performance and that motivation “affects the performance of what has been learned as well as demonstrating its effect on the process of learning itself “(Madsen & Wilson, 2008). When Paas, Tuovinen, van Merriënboer and Darab, A.A. (2005), researched the role of motivation in Cognitive Load Theory, they argued the role and necessity of the learner’s motivation. They determined that “instructional manipulations to optimize the cognitive load have little effect unless learners are motivated and actually invest mental effort in processing the instructions”. They further concluded that “Motivation can be identified as a dimension that determines learning success and causes the high dropout rate among online learners, especially in complex e-learning environments” (Paas, Tuovinen, van Merriënboer, & Darab, 2005).

According to the above definitions, I am a motivated person! I am motivated to learn, and I also have enthusiasm and drive required to pursue taking further actions to achieve the desired goal, which, in my case, is obtaining the Provincial Instructor Diploma. I am also motivated to learn how to motivate others to pursue additional training.

In view of that, I continued my quest on trying to determine the motivational factors that are the driving force for my learning.

What are the two types of motivational aspects every person has? Motivation can be internal (intrinsic) or external (extrinsic). External motivators can range from receiving monetary compensation, promotion, public recognition, earning certificate or diploma, and, by default, come from the outside factors. Intrinsic motivators, on the other hand, come from within the person, and usually come from personal performances (intellectual performance, achieving mastery in certain subjects, curiosity, competence, emotions etc.) (Meriam & Bierma, 2014, p.147, Education First, 2014, p.13).

If I take myself as an example, in order to achieve my first goal, I was motivated by both external (earning a diploma) and internal factors (achieving mastery in teaching adults). So, the motivation to learn was, indeed, much required to start learning, but also to continue with learning. In order to do so, aside from reading the books and spending numerous hours in front of the computer, I reviewed several motivation theories just to be able to place myself into the pattern, and also to try and improve my motivational strategies.

The recent report from Education First (2014) states that “To motivate an employee to start a training course, the most important thing is to play to an employee’s rational calculation by demonstrating the tangible benefits.” (Education First, 2014, p.13).

There are 6 recommendations for motivating adult learners presented in the research (Education First, 2014, p.7), with each one of them being applicable to my second goal of motivating others.

1. Dynamically adapt motivational strategies along the training cycle.
I implemented different tangible benefits to motivate employees to start with the training, including the paid courses and also offering advancement in their career.
2. Continue to take an active interest in employees’ training.
The motivators I use during this stage are recognition of their training, recognizing the new skills learned, co-operation with coworkers attending the same training and eventually providing a financial incentive for finishing the courses.
3. Make sure the employee can fit the training into their schedule.
Since all employees have different responsibilities in their work duties and with their family lives, it is important to allow the employees to take time and fit the training into their busy schedules. For those employees who are taking the in-house training, the training is scheduled during their work hours.
4. Provide a good learning environment.
The training taken in-house is occurring in the environment that is suitable for adult learners, and all longer training sessions by default include refreshments.
5. Create a culture that enables training benefits to be realized.
I learned a long time ago that it is not sufficient just to take or to conduct the training. What is required is the application of the newly acquired skills. The sooner, the better.
6. Tailor motivation to different markets.
Even though the authors conducted this study in different countries, and drew this conclusion about the different markets with the different countries in mind, my experience is that the different departments can also be perceived as the different markets (countries or even worlds for what it matters). Therefore, we cannot really apply ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to training and motivating different people. Recognizing their differences and applying different motivating techniques is of utmost importance.

This blog could now continue with further reflection on the different motivational theories (such as ‘Needs theories’, ‘Equity Theory’, ‘Expectancy theory’, etc., all of which can be found here (Ball, B. (n.d.) or here (Cherry (2015)), however, I will leave it for some other time.

To summarize; personal preferences are strong drivers in achieving one’s goals. Adult learners, myself included, do require motivation to learn. Is that motivation going to come from within, or from outside, depends on many circumstances. Even though I strive to reveal the internal drivers within myself, I also rely on the external ones.

An example of the internal motivation was a feeling of enjoyment and gratification I experienced after conducting the training with the employees yesterday. Even though the training topic was mandated by the rules and regulations, the delivery was quite different from what they expected. The new approach initially surprised them, but they quickly became fully motivated and engaged in the training material, willingly participating in discussions and offering their previous experience and knowledge. At the end of the training session all involved shared satisfaction for gaining new knowledge.

Your very motivated learner.


Ball, B. (n.d.). A summary of motivation theories. Retrieved on: 26-February-2016. From:

Cherry, K. (2015). Theories of Motivation. Retrieved on: 26-February-2016. From:

EF Education First Ltd. (2014). DECODING MOTIVATION. Global insight into motivational drivers of corporate training. Retrieved on: 26-February-2016. From:

Madsen, S. R. & Wilson, I. (2008).The Influence of Maslow’s Humanistic Views on an Employee’s Motivation to Learn. Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship. Vol. 13, No. 2. Paper Presented at the Mountain Plains Management Conference. Retrieved on: 13 February 2016. From:

Merriam, S. B. & Bierema, L. L. (2014). Adult learning. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons

Paas, F., Tuovinen, J.E., van Merriënboer, J.J.G. & Darab, A.A. (2005). A Motivational Perspective on the Relation Between Mental Effort and Performance: Optimizing Learner Involvement in Instruction. ETR&D, Vol. 53, No. 3, 2005, pp. 25–34 ISSN 1042–1629. Retrieved on 26-February-2016. From:

Penguin Books (2000). The New Penguin English Dictionary (p.904). WS Bookwell, Finland: Penguin Books Ltd.

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