Motivation is what drives performance improvement. For a manager who wants to motivate a diverse workforce, understanding what excites and stimulates the individual employee to go above and beyond is critical to being effective. A one-size-fits-all approach is useless when managing employees of various ages or backgrounds. A manager has to be particularly conscious of using techniques that take her entire team into consideration.

Know Your Team

The best way to motivate a diverse workforce is to get to know everyone who reports to you directly. Developing a close professional relationship with members of a team not only allows the manager to more effectively supervise and coach, but also gives the manager insight into what drives employees to excel. For example, if a manager knows that an employee is planning a vacation and may need additional hours, he can offer that employee overtime to fill that need. If an employee believes the manager is working in his best interest, he is much more likely to go above and beyond whenever required.

Reward and Recognition

Regardless of the makeup of your workforce, reward and recognition can be used as tools to inspire loyalty, improved performance and longevity within your organization. If an employee feels appreciated, she is more likely to remain with the company and work harder than she would if she feels neglected or under-valued. A simple item such as a certificate or gift card can brighten an employee's day and make work feel worthwhile. Variable pay, bonuses, profit sharing and stock options are all examples of rewards used as motivational tools.

Make Work Fun

Fun at work can increase motivation, improve optimism, reduce stress and consequently boost productivity. Creating a fun work environment doesn't have to mean installing a bowling lane, as is the case at Google Inc.'s main campus in California. A simple act such as sending a funny and work-appropriate cartoon to employees via email daily can give your employees something to look forward to. Whatever you decide, remember to keep games and activities simple enough so they are more entertaining than exhausting.


Make sure you include your employees in the decision-making process. By soliciting feedback, you appear more in touch with your team's opinions. Be mindful of the various generations of employees that exist within your team. You'll want to interact with and motivate Generation X employees differently from the manner in which you approach the baby boomers or more traditional workers.