How do you motivate employees?

It's not always about higher wages. Or a comfortable chair. Or making sure there are free bagels in the break room. In my experience, motivating someone on your team is all about setting a vision for the future, but to do that you have to get into the nitty-gritty details.

The really tricky part? Great leaders know they have to motivate employees by painting a clear picture of where the job is heading and what is waiting for them down the road. Nothing motivates people in quite the same way as vision-casting for employees.

Here's an example.

Let's say you have someone scheduling all of your social media posts. It's an invaluable contribution, and maybe you're paying this person a good wage. Great!

If you can muster enough empathy for that employee, you know the job is a bit tedious. You schedule Facebook posts for the next few weeks, tweak the wording, gather photos--then repeat 50 times throughout the year. You could keep dangling the promise of a raise, but the employee already knows the job is not going to pay six figures anytime soon. It's an administrative role, a service job.

Real motivation involves an explanation of what is waiting for that employee after the job scheduling social media posts (or making marketing literature, or running an event, or doing the expense reports for the firm) runs its course. Every job has tedium. What carries those employees along is the idea that it will all lead to something.

What is that exactly? That's where you come in as a leader.

Great leaders know how to do this with care and compassion. It's not about an org chart. And, you should avoid making promises about the next job waiting for them, which can actually be demotivating. Instead, it's important to explain the big picture. Why is that social media coordinator even scheduling the posts on Facebook in the first place? If you actually do this job, you know it is all marketing related, at least in most fields.

As a boss, you have to explain how this job fits into the overall marketing strategy. Maybe you're trying to inform customers about good deals in your retail business consistently--that leads to higher sales. OK, so really the social media job is a precursor to doing more strategy, more analytics, more marketing. There is more to do down the road.

Everyone already knows they are a cog in the system. What they might not see is the overall goals of the company and how all of the cogs fit together. You have to explain the why, and then explain why their role exists and how that roles fits with the company objectives. Be the kind of boss who turns the light-bulb on for your employees. Once they understand why their job exists, they will start to envision how they could play a role in a different part of the company, one that is even more important and likely pays better.

Employees want to know how they can add more value, and once they grasp how their current role fits, they can see how there is a better role.

So, back to that social media coordinator. Make sure you plant the seeds. Personal growth, setting objectives, knowing there is another role to play--likely one that is more strategic--can help that employee feel motivated. There's no more important job as a boss.

Great bosses know how to create a vision by planting seeds. Are you?