How to Motivate Employees Individually for Better Results

Oct. 22, 2019

A “management guru” in the industry gives advice on how to figure out employee’s individual motivation.

SHOP STATS: Quality Automotive and Smog  Location: TRUCKEE, CALIF.  Operator: Bill and Sheila Greeno  Average Monthly Car Count: 570  Staff Size: 7  Shop Size: 3,884 sq ft.  Annual Revenue: $1.6 million


Bill Greeno, owner of the 3,884-square-foot, $1.6 million-per-year Quality Automotive and Smog in Truckee, Calif., is a big believer in good company culture. Since opening up his shop back in 2007, he’s instilled this belief by finding ways to motivate employees—individually, that is.

“We have a variety of personalities out there, and not only are those personalities going to act different, but they are expected to be treated differently,” Greeno says. “If you don’t treat them the way they want to be treated, then you’re going to be fighting an uphill battle.”

Everything blends back into his company culture, he says. If someone is strictly self-serving and only really out for themselves, they will never be a long-standing employee, which could result in high turnover or the employee becoming a cancer in your shop—stealing from you or your customers, pushing people around—all leading to bad company culture.

“If you don’t manage your culture and the motivation of your employees, it will manage itself,” Greeno says.

Ratchet+Wrench spoke with the “management guru” for tips to figure out what motivates employees individually, and how to carry out that motivation in your culture.


Everybody that shows up to work has motivation; they have some intrinsic motivation that brings them to work every day. Our job as employers and managers is to make sure they nurture that motivation, and, moreover, not to quell it.

If someone is motivated, it means they care. If I want people to care about the business they work for, then the business they work for needs to care about them. To put it more simply, if I want people to care about me, I need to show people I care about them. I look at their strengths and make sure their strengths fit, not only with our team, but also with our workspace.

Certainly, paying attention helps quite a bit. Pay attention to the grapevine. Your staff will tell you what they love, and if you just listen, you can help them along with that motivation. For instance, we have a European technician who is really into Formula 1 Racing, so the shop manager talks to him every Monday morning about the races over the weekend, and it just really starts out his day nicely.

Meetings are a part of the whole motivation piece. We’re always moving in so many different directions as individuals that it’s easy, even if you have policies and procedures, for people to gravitate in different directions. We have to come together as a group to discuss not only the direction we are going, but also to review the way we are doing things.

I also have a well-devised pay plan—these are the things I want them to pay attention to. Maybe I put a part in their incentive plan for getting great customer reviews, for example. As soon as you focus people in those areas, they are off and running.

Something else I do to help motivate people individually is education, and I let everyone select their own educational track. If someone is interested in diesel, they can take all of the diesel classes they want; I’ll pay for it, and I’ll pay them to go. As long as there is constant growth, I support that growth and that education. They are also incentivized that way—everyone gets an additional $1 per hour per month for maintaining 40 hours of education per year.

Motivating my employees makes for employees that last a long time, which makes for customers that last a long time, which makes for cars that last a long time because customers who come back want to maintain their vehicles and then their vehicles consequently last longer and your reputation goes up. It’s like the circle of life for the automotive industry—long-lasting employees equals long-lasting customers equals long-lasting cars. Mic drop.

Finding the Motivations

What tools will help you find a person's individual motivation? Start here.

DISC Personality Profile

DISC profiles, standing for dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness, are also a great place to start to recognize and be able to profile employees. Each personality is motivated by one thing: Dominance focuses on the bigger picture, Influence focuses on relationships, Steadiness focuses on cooperation, and Conscientiousness focuses on accuracy. To access, purchase a profile test at

Clifton StrengthsFinder

The concept of the Clifton StengthsFinder book is that everyone has their own unique group of strengths. The idea is if employers focus on an employee’s strengths, they can achieve better results as opposed to focusing on weaknesses, which will demotivate them. The Clifton StrengthsFinder book can be purchased in store or online and comes with an online code to take a test so the employee can then read the chapters that pertain to their strengths.


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