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One of the greatest challenges that we face as financial advisors is trying to motivate our team members. The difficulty stems from the fact that different people are inspired by different things. Some people respond to money or tangible items whereas others desire the intangibles — a word of praise, time off or a pat on the back.

The things that motivate you are not necessarily the same things that motivate your team, and that’s why it’s important to understand what works for each team member. Here is an exercise that allows you to quickly identify each person’s motivators, giving you, as manager of the team, an effective way to say “thank you”:

No-cost “thank you”

First, ask each team member to write out three ways in which you could say “thank you” or show your appreciation very quickly with no monetary cost involved. Some responses might include extending praise in front of other team members, a pat on the back or just an individual word of thanks.

The tangible thank you

Next, ask each team member to write out three ways in which you could say “thank you” that would cost up to some specific figure, maybe $100 or $250. Choose your figure according to the size of your team and what you can budget toward this way of showing your appreciation. Examples in this category might include a nice dinner for two, a manicure, a half-day at the spa or a case of a favourite wine. You might be very surprised by the responses you receive and find that a team member has chosen things that you would have never thought to select for that person.

The thank you to end all thank you’s

Then, lastly, for those times when something extraordinary has been done and major goals have been accomplished or someone has gone significantly above and beyond the call of duty, ask each team member to write out three ways in which you could say “thank you” if there was an unlimited budget. Examples might be a getaway to Cancun, a week-long vacation to attend a cooking school in Tuscany or a shopping trip to New York City.

Nine ways to show your appreciation

You now have three lists from each team member totalling nine ways to say “thank you.” The first list will give you ways to instantly recognize the completion of those small but important tasks. Use the second list for those 90-day or mid-term periods when something fairly significant has been accomplished. The items on this list will require a small investment but reflect a greater degree of appreciation.

When you reach the big milestones or when those major multi-year visions have become reality much faster than expected due to the efforts of one or more of your team members, use the third list for guidance in saying “thank you” in a very large way. If you can achieve a three-year vision in 18 to 24 months, you can afford to reward a team member on this scale.

By completing this exercise, your team members come to understand that their contribution is extremely valuable to you, and worthy of being well-rewarded. Some of these bigger rewards will also give many of your team members a chance to do some of those things that they might not normally do on their own — perhaps they wouldn’t want to spend the money on that dream vacation, but as a gift from you, it now is possible.

Help with this exercise

I encourage you to take a few moments to sit down with each team member and ask him or her to list the nine ways that you can say “thank you.” To assist you in this endeavour, please click here to download the “Nine Ways to Say Thank You” worksheet.

Remember that motivators vary by individual, whether it’s money, time to spend with family or a chance to further pursue a craft or hobby. Whatever the motivation, this exercise gives you insight into how you can best show appreciation to each of your team members.

Originally published on Advisor.ca