A New Approach to Motivation

The right mix of motivating ingredients to create delight

I talk to clients every day about how their project, programme or portfolio teams are working together and I’ve begun to realise is that being effective comes down to a mix of motivators.

Going beyond hygiene factors

People want an honest pay reflective of the value of the work they’re doing. People also want a great, if not decent, work environment. Asking for – if not expecting – a level of respect for the challenges of your home life, whatever your personal situation may be, is now quite normal. Especially in global and multinational companies, the expectation and norm is to go beyond the hygiene factors (appropriate pay, great work environment and decent clean work conditions). People everywhere are on the lookout for more than that.


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A friend recently talked to me about how her company was actively encouraging her to transform not just herself but how the organisation works. Now, that’s inspiring!

The bottom line?

Motivation is powerful.

“When tested in national surveys against such seemingly crucial factors as intelligence, ability, and salary, level of motivation proves to be a more significant component in predicting career success. While level of motivation is highly correlated with success, importantly, the source of motivation varies greatly among individuals and is unrelated to success.”
– Bashaw and Grant 1994 from The Hundred Simple Secrets of Successful People

The truth is – organisational change is still planned and executed in vastly different ways and the same pitfalls are being discovered over and over again.

Change ultimately is managed in many different ways

In today’s world, being proactive in handling change is about understanding that change is a constant. As such, you need to be proactive in managing it. The truth is – organisational change is still planned and executed in vastly different ways and the same pitfalls are being discovered over and over again.

What is a person to do?

Standing still is not an option. The conversations taking place around change management need to include a focus on motivators. In essence, you’ve got to look at how you can motivate your people to delight your clients.

To that end, I tend to agree with Dan Pink, a Thinkers 50 top 10 business thinker in the world and author of five provocative books including three long-running New York Times bestsellers, A Whole New Mind, Drive and To Sell is Human.

In his book Drive, Dan talks about the need for providing autonomy, mastery enablement and  generating a sense of purpose because as he puts it “when it comes to motivation, there’s a gap between what science knows and what business does. Our current business operating system – which is built around external, carrot-and-stick motivators – doesn’t work and often does harm.”

What’s broken needs to be fixed

Dan refers to a new approach that is based on :

  • Autonomy – people want to feel that their direction is self-created, with some freedom over direction and method (without being left completely isolated);
  • Mastery – people want to do things well and get better at doing things – they want to develop, innovate and excel; and
  • Purpose – people don’t want to be asked to do meaningless tasks with zero value. Instead, they want the things that they are working on to be worthwhile and value-adding.

Is this too big an ask?

What you want is ultimately motivated people who get things done.

This is a mix of motivational ingredients that will make your team, project or organisation stand out and attract the best. What you want is ultimately motivated people who get things done. You can find out more about this approach in Drive – the Summaries.

Keep in mind too, that while people can be internally motivated, people are also significantly impacted  by the client and culture that has developed, often with them and by them, in their place of work. Therefore, if we work hard to adjust that climate and culture to one that provides autonomy, the opportunity for mastery enablement and  generates a sense of purpose,  then people’s motivations will naturally increase.

Do you agree – what do you think? Love to hear what you think in the comments section below.

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Headline image courtesy Startup Stock photos of stocksnap.io

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