Within Our Own Boundary


How do we motivate people at work? Broadly speaking, we can achieve this at two levels: the personal and organisational level. This section deals with efforts supervisors can make at the personal level.

We all enjoy working with highly motivated employees in a positive work environment. With this in mind, every manager can do something to proactively achieve the results they desire. An employee's needs are satisfied by extrinsic factors including job security, organisation policies, quality of management, working conditions, job variety, learning new skills and etc. There are many motivational factors that affect an employee's motivation. The following are some common factors of motivation:

Worthwhile Work

People are motivated because they know that their work is worthwhile or when they experience their work as meaningful. There are in fact many ways to let our staff experience the meaningfulness of their job:

  • Delegate tasks that challenge and stretch the skills and abilities of staff.
  • Instead of assigning part of a task, let staff be responsible for the whole task from beginning to end to produce a visible outcome.
  • Let staff understand why they are needed.
  • Let staff understand how the result of their work has a significant impact on the well being of other people, and how it contributes to the good governance of Hong Kong.
  • Explain to staff the vision, mission and values of the department, and how their work aligns with them.
  • Promote ownership of problem solving.
  • Empower team member.
  • Involve staff in making management decisions.
The Power of Acknowledgement

Motivation comes from an act of recognition, a word of encouragement, or a sense of respect. It is the power of acknowledgement that brings enthusiasm to worthwhile work. And the good news is that every manager has an unlimited supply of such power. Use this power constructively:

  • Encourage the worst staff and praise them when they do something right.
  • Give TRUE congratulations - Timely, Responsive, Unconditional, Enthusiastic.
  • Celebrate what you want to see more of.
  • Cheer any progress, not just the result.
  • Tell people what a great job they've done or present them an award, and make their achievements known to the community.
  • Catch people doing things right, not just catch them doing things wrong.
  • Give positive feedback when you spot performance improvement.
  • Recognize quality performance of individual team members and thank them personally.
  • Give credit to team members for their assistance to your achievement.
  • Appreciate the value of risk-taking and mistakes.
Your Personal Credibility

Supervisors must provide a stimulating and open environment in which their employees feel comfortable to make suggestions. They should work with their employees to refine a rough idea or even draft a totally new suggestion for improvement. When this pervades loyalty and commitment from employees will be achieved. Therefore, as a leader, in order to motivate your people, you personally have to be:

  • abide by civil service core values :
    • commitment to the rule of law;
    • honesty and integrity above private interests;
    • accountability and openness in decision-making and in its action;
    • political neutrality in conducting official duties;
    • impartiality in the execution of public functions;
    • dedication and diligence in serving the community;
  • a role model for team members.
  • a motivated manager yourself.
  • brave enough to admit it when you are wrong
  • able to speak positively all the time.
  • organized yourself.
  • open-minded to suggestions and opinions.
  • attentive to team members' emotional needs, be a human leader.
  • accountable, so team members feel secure enough to take risks.
Working Through People

The basic principle underpinning motivation is that if staff are managed effectively, they will seek to give of their best voluntarily without the need for control through rules and sanctions - they will eventually be self-managing.

Managers sometimes slip into the habit of:

  • Always give orders and instructions, allowing no disagreement.
  • Always expect staff to give twelve hours of output for eight hours' time and pay.
  • Training is unnecessary.
  • Staff are workers - their job is only to follow orders.
  • Staff are not supposed to know the details; they are classified and need not know more than their boss' orders.
  • The essence of staff management is control - the supervisors' only responsibility is to catch wrong behaviors and to avoid their repetition by punishment and discipline.

Do you want our staff to work in a demotivating environment? If not, what can we do? How can we achieve results through people? The following are some suggestions:

  • Value individuals as persons.
  • Address your staff as "team members" instead of subordinates.
  • Be result-oriented, disseminate the purpose and objectives of tasks.
  • Give people work that demands their best and allow them to learn and move ahead into uncharted territory.
  • Keep team members informed of new developments.
  • Encourage problem solving instead of faultfinding.
  • Never say, "You're wrong" when you disagree with them.
  • Deal with errors constructively; be helpful at all times.
  • Be ready to coach team members.
  • Recommend inspiring training courses for team members.
  • Go to team members' place instead of asking them to come to your office all the time.
  • Encourage team members' involvement in management decisions.


Purpose Why Do We Need Motivation? Motivation in the Civil Service Within Our Own Boundary At the Organisational Level Motivation and HRM Your Own Staff Motivation Plan Motivation and You


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