4 Motivators for Peak Performance

Motivation is the fuel for action. Your motivators, or lack of, affect the quality of your performance. Certainly this isn’t rocket science. However, what we take for common knowledge often leads us to collapse our logic into oversimplified conclusions.

Take for example money as a motivator. As a salesperson, money certainly is a motivator. But dig a little deeper and you’re likely to find that the degree to which it motivates you to perform at your best has grown familiar. The familiarity of money as a motivator leads to the overestimation of its positive influence on your performance. Money’s motivating influences are short-lived. In some cases it becomes a stressor due to the lack of it as we adjust our lifestyle up along with the increase in pay.

The carrot-and-stick nature of some motivators also evolves into frustration and disappointment. Money is both the carrot and a big stick, more like a club.

What we need are motivators that have a lasting influence on peak performance.

Before we look at four motivators, let’s define peak performance. It’s when work happens naturally as an outcome of your strengths. Work goes by fast, and the work you’re doing is exciting. It invigorating. It doesn’t mean you’re good at the work. You could be. You derive satisfaction from the work. Author and positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls this flow.

Let’s look, then, at four motivators that have staying power to influence peak performance, or flow.

Four Flow Motivators:

Meaningful Work

You believe the work you’re doing has greater purpose beyond accomplishment. The outcomes benefit others in a way that matters to you. And because it leads to peak performance, the work is enjoyable to you.


In a business environment with constantly shifting priorities and goals, clarity in purpose, expectations and the bigger picture is essential. It’s a manager’s responsibility to make absolutely clear “The Why” behind any major initiative. Left to our own devices, we’ll make something up and it may not be in the best interest of performance.


Managers who treat sales employees as a replaceable cog in the sales machinery are poisoning the relationship. Look where the people are fleeing and you’ll find a broken relationship between manager and employees. But a relationship built on mutually beneficial outcomes that treat employees as people will motivate, not deflate.


A strong culture is one that guides the behaviors to achieve desirable, ethical outcomes. A strong, healthy and effective culture values people as the essential driver for business results. No strategy or sales plan is worth anything unless people do the work. A culture that dismantles the archaic hierarchy that treats people as a means to a profitable end will inspire deeper commitment to organizational goals.

Take for example research from The Ken Blanchard Companies. Their research found that employees stretch their skills and grow when they believe the work environment is open, safe and welcoming. Treat people like a number on the balance sheet and you’ll find yourself in an endless cycle of hiring, firing and hiring repeatedly.

Why We Must Rethink Motivation

It’s time that our workplaces evolve from the factory-mentality influencing how we motivate employees to do great work. A good place to begin is maturing our people practices beyond using money as the primary source of motivation for employee performance. It’s essential that managers and leaders look to make the work experience more meaningful and leverage the positive elements of what it means to be a human being.