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How to Motivate Your IT Support Staff for Better Performance

Motivate IT support staff to love their job

Increasing productivity should be a top priority for every IT support staff. In order to get more productivity from your staff, they need to be motivated. Contrary to popular belief, financial gain is not the sole motivator for all employees. Motivation comes from a variety of sources. In order for employees to perform better, it’s your duty to find out what motivates them.

Determine What Motivates Employees

The first step of improving your IT support staff’s performance is to determine what their motivators are. Humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow created a visual representation that describes the basic needs of all human beings called the Hierarchy of Needs. The chart is setup as a pyramid and consists of the following level from bottom to top:

  1. Physiological Needs. The basic needs necessary for human survival such as food, water, sleep, and air.
  2. Security Needs. The things that make you feel secure, such as stable employment, healthcare, a home.
  3. Social Needs. The need to belong - having friends, family, a loving relationship.
  4. Esteem Needs. Having personal worth, reflecting on your self-esteem, and personal value.
  5. Self-Actualization. As the highest level on Maslow’s chart, self-actualization is when you become self-aware and don't desire acceptance or approval from others.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is important because it helps determine the best way to motivate the individual members of the support staff depending on where they are in hierarchy. For example, a young entry level IT support intern is probably at the bottom level. In this case, simply having a job and making money could be enough to motivate him.

However, someone in a higher ranking position such as a support analyst may be higher up on the hierarchy. They could be motivated by the possibility of a promotion or recognition for their years of service. Once you know where an employee is in their life, it becomes easier to figure out how to motivate them.

Strong Leadership

Motivation starts from the top. When employees see that supervisors and high ranking executives are motivated, driven, and have a passion to succeed, they tend to absorb those same characteristics. Positivity is contagious. However, building relationships with your staff is even better.

Are you locked in your office all day, only dealing with executives below you? Take the time to walk around your IT department, listen and observe how your IT staff is handling requests and issues. Ask questions and listen to their needs. Are they happy with the IT management software you use? (I’m sure they are happy if you use SysAid). Does it increase their productivity? What is the hardest goal to accomplish and, why?

Set Goals AND Rewards

One of the biggest mistakes companies make is setting goals but failing to set rewards when the goals are attained. Setting a goal to decrease the response time to customer issues by 25% is great, but what do the employees get once this is achieved?

Intrinsic rewards such as a feeling of accomplishment will be enough for a few employees, but taking it a step further by giving some form of extrinsic rewards when company goals are meant will motivate the support staff to reach those goals both for the company and for themselves.

Positive Reinforcement

When employees feel like they have done something correctly, they try to repeat the same behavior. Taking the time to recognize employees who are on the right path and making a strong contribution to the support staff will motivate everyone to follow suit.

In the book The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, they describe a technique called the One Minute Appraisal. The One Minute Appraisal involves taking one minute out of your day to acknowledge and praise an employee when they have done something correctly. The theory is that these small positive interactions will help employees feel better about themselves and what they’re doing and ultimately perform better.

Develop a Team-Oriented Corporate Culture

Corporate culture is your company’s identity. It sets the stage for how the company operates, handles customers, how employees are treated and every other aspect of business. Creating a corporate culture that emphasizes the importance of employees (such as encouraging employees to be healthy) and working as a team will give employees motivation to perform at their best for the team and not just for themselves.

Many companies have taken this approach and have had tremendous success with employee morale and productivity such as Apple, Zappos, Google, and others.


Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook where we are always listening.

From NY to Israel, mother of twin girls serving in the Israel Defense Forces (yikes!), with a fondness for orderliness and all things social. 3 years at SysAid. Love our product, love marketing it, and love our customers!

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