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Terms like “engaged employees “and ” psychological contract” are frequently used by HR practitioners when they speak of successful people at work. Some believe that intrinsic motivators like a sense of achievement and the challenges that go with the job really influence performance. Others argue that there is nothing like a rich pay packet to make the employee set aside everything else to perform well at work.

I enjoyed reading what Rob Briner had to say about engagement in a recent article in People Management.  Rob is the Professor of Organisational Psychology at Birbeck, University of London.

In my experience really successful managers seem to know ” What Makes Them Tick?” for each of their team members. For some, it is the fear of being surpassed or fired, for others it is the monetary rewards that flow from superior performance and for yet others, it is the joy of doing the work well.

You may use any number of terms to describe what it takes to get people to perform. What is more significant is knowing how to get the best out of people by appealing to things that seem to matter most to them at any point in time. The last few words are important because we are speaking of a moving target and today’s satisfier need not necessarily be a big hit tomorrow.

How do you know what makes them tick? You come to know this only if you know people as people. While a certain amount of generalization is inevitable, getting to know which buttons to press with each person will really get you the best results.

Effective managers use a combination of many factors to get people to perform. Sauce, as they say, for the goose is not sauce for the gander!