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  • Writer's pictureMarty Jalove

Motivating Rock, Paper, and Scissors Employees

How do you motivate a team? Don’t just stand there with your hands in your pockets, this question has plagued managers and leaders for decades. The answer isn't pointing fingers or giving an occasional thumbs up. Different employees need to be motivated in different ways. Understanding how they think and what motivates them is essential to helping them stay engaged in their work. Let’s divide employees into four different groups and discuss what managers can do to keep them motivated and engaged.


The Rocks

In the heart of every organization lie our ROCKs - Reliable, Orderly, Consistent, and Knowledgeable employees. They are the sturdy pillars that hold us up, their resilience admirable, their orderliness a benefit, their consistency a soothing presence, their knowledge a deep well of wisdom. Yet, like a steadfast rock, they often resist the tides of change. To set these ROCKs rolling, we must value their strengths, include them in the process, communicate clearly, offer support, and exercise patience. Just as the relentless waves shape the hardest rocks on the shore, with a gentle push, consistent pressure, and time, we can inspire our ROCKs to adapt and change, transforming them from immovable rocks into rolling stones, gathering momentum and purpose on the path towards a brighter future.


The Papers

In the fold of every office, we find the PAPERs - Passionate, Adaptable, Persistent, Enthusiastic, and Resilient. Just like a sheet of paper, they're flexible, capable of bending to fit into any role, eager to embrace new projects with an open heart. They dance on the winds of change, each gust a thrilling new challenge, each turn a chance to shine brighter. But to keep their spirits high, these PAPERs need to see their work being valued. Show them that their efforts aren't just crumpled up and tossed aside, but rather, are essential links in the chain of progress. Make them feel appreciated, give their work purpose, let them know they're making a difference. Hang these precious PAPERs on the fridge door of your organization, not to cool down their enthusiasm, but to let everyone see their worth.


The Scissors

Now for those we term SCISSORs - Sharp, Creative, Imaginative, Strategic, Sincere, Original, and Resourceful. Just like a pair of scissors, they're always ready to cut through the ordinary, carve out their own path, and bring a fresh perspective to the table. They flourish in an atmosphere of freedom, where the lines aren't pre-drawn and they're free to sketch their own designs. What gets these SCISSORs snipping? It's the opportunity to let their imagination run wild, to experiment with new ideas, chart their own course, and work on projects that make their creative hearts beat faster. The key to keeping them motivated is simple: don't confine them to the lines, let them create their own patterns.

Don't Wanna Plays

The "Don't Wanna Play’s"

These employees simply don't care about the work. They show up to punch the clock, do the bare minimum, and leave as soon as they can. They can be the most challenging group to motivate and engage. However, as a manager, it's important to understand why they feel this way. Sometimes, these employees have personal issues outside of work that are causing them to lack motivation. To engage this group, you need to take an individual approach, be empathetic, and try to understand what is going on in their lives. Get your hands around this problem early.

Motivating employees can be a challenging task, but it's essential to creating a productive and engaged team. Understanding the different motivational styles of your employees is key to keeping them engaged. By applying the different strategies, you can create an environment that helps your team thrive.


A few questions you can ask your employees to determine their motivational style include:

  • What’s Your BACON?

  • What motivates you to come to work every day?

  • What activities or projects excite you the most?

  • And what do you think you need to be more productive at work?

With these insights, you'll be able to hand each employee a motivation plan to fit their unique needs.

I'd love to hear how you are motivating your Rock, Paper, and Scissors Employees

Marty Jalove of Master Happiness is a Business Consultant, Corporate Coach, and Company Strategist that helps small businesses, teams, and individuals find focus, feel fulfilled, and have fun. Master Happiness stresses the importance of realistic goal setting, empowerment, and accountability in order to encourage employee engagement and retention.

The winning concentration is simple: Happy Employees attract Happy Customers and Happy Customers come back with Friends.

Learn more about Master Happiness at or


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