How to Motivate Older Team Members When Money Is Not An Option

By Denise O’Berry

One of the most common questions that pop into my email box is how do you treat team members who have reached the salary bar and cannot be promoted to the next level just yet? What do you do to keep them motivated?

With an aging workforce, along with a lot of people who don’t want to — or can’t afford to — retire, more and more of the workforce is comprised of seasoned and higher paid employees who have reached their salary cap.

The best thing you can do as a manager is to take the focus off money. Money is a motivator, but it’s short term. You’ll get a lot more bang for your buck (so to speak!), if you take a look at what the team member values and see what you can do to provide motivation to accommodate those values.

Here’s where to start. Begin by meeting with each team member to determine how they perceive their fit in your organization. You can find out how your employees feel by asking them:

  • What do you find most challenging about your work?
  • What aspect of your work provides the most satisfaction?
  • What are the biggest obstacles to completing your work?
  • What resources would make your work easier?

Finding the answers to these questions can help you in nailing down just the right motivational tactic to keep each team member on the right track. Then create action plans to maintain team member involvement in the growth process. As a manager, that is one of your key responsibilities.

Another option is tapping into the knowledge base of your maturing workforce. One thing you don’t want to happen is to let all that knowledge walk out the door when mature team members leave.

Consider implementing a “buddy” or mentoring program where mature team members have an opportunity to take a younger team member under their wing and share the intellectual capital in their head. This technique is a win /win for everyone — the mature team member gets to share all that great information he’s stored up for years, the younger team member benefits from a master and the company gets a better employee.

Denise O’Berry – aka the Team Doc – has been working with teams and team leadership in the public, non profit and private sectors for over twenty years. Based on that experience, Denise has created the Team Building Toolbox for Busy Managers, a program specifically designed to help you navigate the team building minefield to get it right — the first time.

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