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Hot Topic Highlight - Motivation

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

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What is this week's blog about?

In this week’s blog, Property Elite consultant, Abigail Blumzon BArch (Hons) MSc, MRICS outlines motivation theory, and how it can be applied in practice.

Abigail is a Chartered Surveyor and qualified construction project manager. She has a wide range of professional expertise in a variety of roles within the construction sector.

Essential reading for RICS APC and AssocRICS candidates on the project management pathway, amongst others.

This blog is particularly relevant to the ‘leading projects, people and teams’ competency, as well as ‘managing people’ in the pre-August 2018 pathways.

It forms useful reading to help understand diversity, inclusion and teamworking, and provides guidance for anyone who wants to improve or hone their leadership skills.

This week’s blog will explore:

  • What is motivation?

  • What is motivation theory?

  • What is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?

  • How can I use these theories in practice?

What is Motivation?

Motivation is a state of mind which drives a person to work towards achieving desired goals. It typically pushes a person to work with drive and commitment. In its broadest sense, motivation can be thought of as what ‘gets you going’.

Within both organisations and project teams, a key role of the leader (be that a project manager, company director, or team leader) is to ensure that every team member is motivated.

Motivation is highly important for every team and company due to benefits such as:

  1. Increased commitment - when people are motivated, they generally put their best effort into their work.

  2. Improved employee satisfaction.

  3. Ongoing employee development - often, once people reach their goals, they realise the link between effort and results, which will further motivate them to continue at a high level.

  4. Improved efficiency - efficiency isn’t only based on experience and qualifications, and there also needs to be a willingness to perform the tasks assigned.

Key areas that influence motivation vary from person to person, but might include their work environment, team bonding, responsibilities, fairness, feedback, or personal development.

Think about what motivates you in a work environment.

What is Motivation Theory?

Motivation theory is the study of what drives a person to work towards a particular goal or outcome. Various psychologists have studied human behaviour and formalised their findings into motivation theories.

These theories can help provide insight into how people behave and what motivates them.

There are many theories of motivation. Some of the famous theories include:

  • Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

  • ERG theory.

  • Herzberg’s dual factor theory.

  • McClelland’s acquired needs theory.

In your interview, you should be prepared to name these major motivation theories, and to explain at least one in some level of detail. The most famous is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which we will explore below.

What is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?

Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Abraham Maslow postulated that a person will be motivated when their needs are fulfilled. His theory centres on the idea that people have a hierarchy of needs. The need starts from the lowest basic level and keeps moving up as a lower level need is fulfilled.

In this theory, unfulfilled needs lower on the pyramid will prohibit someone from climbing to the next step. When a deficit need has been satisfied it will go away, and a person will become directed towards meeting the next set of needs on the pyramid.

Unfortunately, people's progress is often disrupted by a failure to meet lower level needs. Life experience or circumstances may stem development. Examples might include feeling a lack of job security (not meeting the need for safety), poor team bonding (a lack of belonging), or inconsistent and sparse feedback from their manager (a lack of self-esteem).

How Can I Use These Theories in Practice?

As a leader, you need to understand the specific need of every individual in the team and accordingly work to help fulfil their needs. Motivating your employees needs to be a regular routine. Referring to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we can look at several immediate actionable tips to increase employee motivation in your team or workplace.

Physiological needs may be satisfied by people’s paychecks which, depending on your position within a company, may or may not be within your control.

Similarly, while factors such as job security which help satisfy safety needs may be outside of your control, it is important for you to have an awareness of how concerns might be affecting the motivation of members of your team.

Belonging and social needs may be satisfied by having a friendly environment that is conducive to collaboration and communication. The easiest way to increase motivation is by having positive communication, finding the time to talk to your team in person wherever possible.

Promotion opportunities aren’t the only way of satisfying esteem needs. Ensure your team understands how their individual efforts play an important part of the company or team’s overall goals. Simple gestures such as “Thank You” or “Great job” to acknowledge work well-done will build loyalty and encourage people to work even harder.

Finally, self-actualization needs may be satisfied by providing development and growth opportunities on or off the job, as well as by assigning interesting and challenging work. By making the effort to satisfy the different needs each employee may have at a given time, organizations may ensure a more highly motivated workforce.


In summary, motivation is the state of mind which pushes humans to perform things with positivity. The role of the leader or manager is to ensure that every individual in the team and the organisation is motivated. The various motivation theories help our understanding of what will motivate people.

How can we help?

Stay tuned for our next blog post to help build a better you.

N.b. Nothing in this article constitutes legal, professional or financial advice.


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