4 Ways to Motivate People to Achieve Their Potential


In my last post I wrote about Gary. He was an example of a dedicated employee who had a tremendous Growth Achievement Potential (GAP). He was a mail room person who became a computer expert and as a result of a leader who took a chance, he kept the company systems at a high level of performance. Why? Because someone recognized his GAP and made sure he was working in his area of potential or passion.

The question you as a leader need to decide is, “Am I willing to recognize my employee’s GAP and make sure they are working to their potential?

Employees usually fall into one of four GAP categories:

  1. No GAP. Some employees have no idea what kind of work would get their passion and juices flowing. To them, work is just work. This group seems to find satisfaction in self-indulgent pursuits such as drinking, sports, or other self-focused activities. The no-GAP crowd is almost impossible to motivate and should be the first considered when corporate cuts are made.
  2. Outside GAP. In some cases, people will most definitely be motivated by avenues outside of their jobs. Maybe the GAP is charity work or one sort or another. These people are motivated buy highly secure and reasonably well-paying jobs that enable them to pursue their outside interests. They can be very highly motivated and perform very well in their jobs if they find reward and satisfaction in outside interests and feel the freedom and encouragement from you to pursue them.
  3. Undiscovered GAP. This is a tough category because these people are not self-reflective enough to know that they have or should have a GAP. They can become very motivated if the discover their GAP, but it takes a lot of energy on the part of the leader to help them reach this point. You need to look for potential beyond what they are doing now.
  4. Known GAP. A good number of people know or at least sense what their GAP is. However, they can often get trapped doing what they are good at, or they may find that their organization keeps them locked in a specific box and doesn’t allow them to pursue their GAP. If these people are allowed to pursue their GAP, like Gary, they often become the most motivated and high-performance persons on a team. Your job is to take a chance and put them where they can soar.

Money is not always the great motivator we as leaders think it is. Of course it’s appreciated but many employees feel it just levels the playing field—it’s a day’s wages for a day’s hard work. It is much more meaningful and satisfying (and ultimately motivating) to be rewarded according to your GAP.

How do you motivate your employees? Do you realize their GAP? How do you act on what you know to motivate them?


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Trust is the winsome wedding of faith and hope.

Brennan Manning

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