Chris Lorence: Money isn’t everything

It’s opportunities that really matter.

By Chris Lorence

With the recent reductions in business taxes, many community banks are evaluating their employee pay scales. Some have already increased hourly rates for nonexempt staff and given salary increases to many exempt staff as a result. The increase in wages will certainly provide a shot in the arm for employee morale, but what else should leaders be doing to motivate their teams?

While it’s highly unlikely that anyone would say “no thank you” to a salary increase, contemporary leaders know that financial compensation is only one way to create sustainable and meaningful motivation. Individual team members need to know they are valued for their contributions while being recognized for the collaborative results of a team. Leaders who cultivate a culture where both entrepreneurial thinking and collaboration are in balance will likely see sustainable growth.

So, what factors drive people to feel valued and give their best? Three motivators to consider are a sense of autonomy, the ability to develop skills leading to mastery, and feeling connected to a meaningful purpose.

People, regardless of title, position or seniority, thrive when they feel they are in control of their own destiny. How, you might ask, can “team” and “autonomy” coexist without a constant struggle for control? Consider that when team members feel empowered to bring their ideas forward and are encouraged to speak up, they feel more engaged. When team members are valued as both contributors and copilots in the team’s success, self-motivation, ambition and drive ultimately fuel creativity and results.

Many are inspired and motivated by opportunities to fine-tune their skills. For some, continuous growth in knowledge and skills is part of a lifelong pursuit of excellence. Who wouldn’t want a team filled with smart people who want to keep getting smarter?

Feeling connected to an organization’s mission can also propel people into mutually enriching lifetime careers. Community banking, for example, is often described as being “in the blood” of those who are passionate about what they do. Who wouldn’t want to feel good about what they do for a living? Organizations driven by strong leaders who believe in the mission often act as magnets, drawing in more believers who contribute to delivering powerful results.

In the end, motivation is highly individualistic. While a competitive salary is often a dealmaker, not fully addressing what else inspires people can be a deal breaker. Successful leaders know what motivates their employees and are driven to develop the perfect formula of benefits, recognition and freedom that inspires individuals to be productive, satisfied and engaged members of a team.


Chris Lorence ( is group executive vice president, member engagement and strategy, with expertise in enterprise leadership.