Motivating the New AP Professional

July 20, 2017 Chris Doxey


Motivation involves using words and examples to give your accounts payable team the will to accomplish an objective or take action. Motivation occurs when one has confidence, feels a sense of belonging to a solid team, and has good leadership. Motivation is nurtured by constant reinforcement, a level of trust, and loyalty to either the organizational leader or the company.

True team motivation occurs when team members motivate each other. Motivation is also a product of faith in the larger mission or vision of the organization and results from individuals feeling like they have a defined role and are part of the “big picture.”


A defined mission or vision for your accounts payable department and how it fits into your company’s finance department provides a good base for helping your team with motivation and feeling like they are part of the big picture.

Motivation is a powerful key to understanding your role as a leader. And self-motivation is the ultimate byproduct of an effective leader. Individuals understand their role in the organization and company and know their work is valued. A self-motivated associate is very productive and may be ready to move to the next level in your organization or be assigned additional assignments.

Herzberg and motivation

Frederick Herzberg, a behavioral scientist, developed a motivation theory specifically for the workplace. He called it the Motivator-Hygiene Theory. It's divided into two parts and stresses that some job factors lead to satisfaction while others can only prevent satisfaction.

Herzberg’s book, Motivation to Work, published in 1959, originally focused on 200 Pittsburgh engineers and accountants. Herzberg interviewed workers and asked them to report when they felt either exceptionally good or bad about their jobs. Herzberg developed the two-factor theory that explains different factors impacting job satisfaction and dissatisfaction.

According to this theory, hygiene factors are the sources of job dissatisfaction:

  • Organizational Policies
  • Quality of Supervision
  • Working Conditions
  • Base Wage or Salary
  • Relationships With Peers
  • Relationships With Subordinates
  • Status
  • Security

The other component of the two-factor theory is the concept of motivator factors. Also called “satisfiers,” these factors are related to job type and content as depicted in the table below. When motivator factors are not available to the team member, job performance will suffer. Herzberg made the statement, “If you want people to do a good job, give them a good job to do.”

Motivator factors in job context affecting job satisfaction:

  • Achievement
  • Recognition
  • Work Itself
  • Responsibility
  • Advancement
  • Growth

As an accounts payable leader, you will be able to control some of these factors, but you won't be able to control or influence all factors. Where there is dissatisfaction around elements of the workplace that you cannot directly impact, there are things that you can do.

As leaders, we do not like a surprise, and neither do our team members. A good leader always provides consistent communication through staff meetings and one on one coaching sessions if appropriate.


About the Author

Chris Doxey

Chris Doxey, CAPP, CCSA, CICA is an independent management consultant providing Internal Controls and Business Process Best Practice Solutions. She has extensive experience in procurement, accounts payable, internal auditing, internal controls, Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, payroll, logistics, financial systems strategy, and financial integration at Digital, Compaq, Hewlett Packard, MCI, APEX Analytix, and Business Strategy, Inc. She was recruited to assist MCI (formally WorldCom) recover from their internal control challenges. She has a bachelor's degree in English, a bachelor's in accounting, a master's in business administration, and a graduate certificate in project management. Chris has written numerous articles and published two handbooks: AP Leadership Skills and Implementing a Controls Self Assessment Program for Your Accounts Payable Department.

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