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How to Motivate People

Who You Can’t Pay More

How can you motivate people when you can’t pay them more money?

Sometimes your budget constraints won’t let you pay an employee more money. But you need to survive as an organization, and you need good employees to thrive.

Donald Miller, CEO of StoryBrand shares a powerful way to keep employees happy and committed.

What can you do to motivate your staff without offering them more money?

Offer them a role to play in a story.

Your organization is doing something great. It’s making a difference for the people it serves, in your community, in Am Yisrael. If it wasn’t around, that would be terrible. When you succeed in your mission, you are changing the world.

That is your organization’s story.

So, offer each and every member of your team a role to play in this story.

You may be thinking that your staff knows this implicitly. They don’t need to be TOLD that what they are doing is amazing.

But think of it this way. When you offer them a role in the story, you re-energize them back to your organizational mission. You remind them why your organization exists.

More than that, you empower them to take proactive steps in furthering that mission.

How do you do that?

You need to clearly explain,

“This is the mission we are on, and I specifically need you to play this role in that mission. If we don’t accomplish the mission, X terrible thing will happen and if we accomplish this mission, Y wonderful thing will happen.”

What you’ve done is you have clarified your mission. You have demonstrated the stakes at the end of the mission. And you have shown them that they have a specific role in that mission.

Next time you want to motivate your employees, write down

  • The mission you are on
  • What will happen if you don't accomplish the mission
  • What will happen when you do accomplish the mission 
  • What their specific role is in that mission

(As a bonus tip, answer the last three bullet points by talking about a single service recipient.

  • What will happen to Josh if you don’t fulfill your organization’s mission? 
  • What will happen to him if you do?
  • What is your employee’s role in helping Josh go from Point A to Point B?

Thinking about your mission in terms of specific individuals is a great way to concretize the work you do.)

This is something you should be doing with all of your staff, even if you are paying your staff “enough.”

And if you can’t pay them enough, this is a valuable way to get their buy-in without the funds to pay them more.

B'Hatzlacha Raba Raba,


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