It’s Impossible To Motivate Unmotivated Staff

Reading Time: 4 minutes

It can certainly be hard to motivate people and strictly speaking it is true we cannot make others motivated. Command-and-control managers often get frustrated because they believe that motivating employees is about their authority and tangible things such as money.

Exerting authority is a common management approach but that is different to leadership.

You can compel people to do what you want, but that’s not leadership, and it tends to be a good way to turn engaged staff into disengaged staff. According to a 2023 Gallup survey, some 77% of workers globally are disengaged! So some managers are probably doing the wrong thing to engage their staff.

“Too many times, engagement measures are not good a guide on what needs to be done because they confuse four engagement levels: dissatisfaction, satisfaction, motivation and commitment.”

Leadership is about helping to motivate others, using different actions/strategies to engage staff who are at these different levels.

Many organizations use bonuses and tangible/extrinsic rewards to try to motivate their employees. But financial rewards don’t motivate for long (about 4.5 weeks according to the research!).

Psychologist Edward Deci concluded that, “Nothing tangible can make us motivated. All motivation comes from the intangible.”

He determined that all motivation is actually intrinsic (the person motivating themself). He found that using tangible rewards could actually work against intrinsic motivation. Motivation that stems from the desire to get an external reward such as money often lessens people’s intrinsic motivation. However, it is complicated and less capable staff may initially become more motivated when given extrinsic rewards.


Another area of confusion is conflating human needs with human motivation. They are very different and at different levels in the psyche. One is about what a person requires, the other is about what a person desires.  Needs tend to be stronger drivers but they are more limited in scope than motivations. For instance, you may need transport, but may want a bike, a Ford, a Rolls Royce, a speedboat, or helicopter…

Click here to understand motivations versus needs more deeply.

How do you help motivate your employees? Is it working as well as you want it to?

So what do you need to do when it comes to motivation?!



Mark began his career as a combat and chemical engineer, but quickly started to get a greater interest in human performance and leadership in particular. His first role was in the UK’s 5 Airborne Brigade, where he was a Jungle Warfare instructor, Helicopter Abseil dispatcher and Demolitions Officer for 11 years before moving into the business world for 30 years.

He specialises in enabling organisations and leaders to gain significantly greater engagement from their staff in a way that directly increases the 4P’s of purpose, productivity, performance and profit. He does this through leadership and high-performance team training in Motivational Leadership and boosting leaders’ four fundamental intelligences (which means first extinguishing the “IQ Myth”). These courses focus on leadership, self-leadership and self-awareness in both professional and personal life.

He has run leadership development and assessment courses since 1986 in twenty countries and on 6 of the 7 continents, in both military and commercial environments. Countries include: Australia, New Zealand, USA, UK, Switzerland, Germany, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, South Africa, Dubai, Jordan, Brunei, Belize, South Korea, the Falkland Islands and Fujairah UAE, involving participants from about 60 different countries from around the world.

Mark set up the international consultancy, MarkTwo Consulting, in 2002  to provide advanced leadership development and assessment programs, applying the best international organisational psychometric instruments. Mark is certified in twenty of the world’s best ones, and realised an additional instrument was needed that helped companies motivate and engage their managers and workforce. Mark researched the area and found new ways of explaining pragmatically the underlying causes of the lack of engagement and productivity. Using those findings, he developed MarkTwo Consulting’s highly innovative and holistic Universal Hierarchy of Motivation (UHM) leadership development tool.

The UHM gives leaders new insights on human intelligence and helps people to enhance their self-awareness and self-leadership in all areas. Recent advances in neuroscience have vindicated the UHM theory have added weight to its conclusions.

His drive for guiding people to be the best leaders they can be at home and work, combined with his deep knowledge and unique take on “authentic” leadership as a driver of business performance, has made MarkTwo’s courses highly sought after in Asia-Pacific.

Mark speaks at high profile events, and has been interviewed on Australian national TV, and prime time media on matters to do with capability, selection, recruitment and assessment.

Mark is a graduate of the University of Cambridge, the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and the Royal School of Military Engineering. He is trained in a form of Jungian psychology as well as internationally credentialled in 20 of the World’s best organizational psychology instruments for assessment and development. He is also a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Personnel and Development, Life Fellow of the Australian Institute of Professional Facilitators, Fellow of the Australian Human Resources Institute, Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and member of the International Coaching Federation.

He is also qualified in other unusual areas, such as a Range Firing Officer, Taekwondo blackbelt, Watermanship Officer, and an Arrest and Restraints Instructor.

Mark has published three books: MOTIVATIONAL LEADERSHIP – which debunks 10 common myths on leadership (and several illusions about intelligence); THE SEVEN MOTIVATIONS OF LIFE – a psychological reference book on the psychology of leadership and life; and A HIMALAYAN TRINITY – about insights gained from experiencing serious illness and trekking across remote areas of the Himalayas.

He has Dual Citizenship (UK/AUS) and lives in Melbourne Australia with his wife, Ruth.

Connect with him through social media:

Twitter/X: @MarkTwoConsult

For more great business content see here.

Related posts

Leave a Comment