We often hear talks about motivation. Everyone emphasizes how important it is to be aware of your main stimuli to act. Analysis of extrinsic or intrinsic types of motivation should guide everyone to the motivational enlightenment. But is that really so?
Yes, we chose certain jobs and activities for a reason – because they give us a satisfaction we’re looking for and ignites our inner fire to do or achieve more. Some people believe that monetary remuneration is the main motivator in organizations. Well, yes… but only for a part of people. Others are concerned that there are 1000+ ways to motivate people and therefore it is extremely difficult to find a right one.
Actually, it’s possible to divide motivation into 4 categories. In my view people can be: Appreciation seekers, Helpers, Rules’ sponsors and Money makers.
People whose main motivator is appreciation will always seek for admiration and feedback. They need to be noticed, they wanna know that they did well, that the job they do or the project they participate in makes a difference for the team/department/organization. They wanna be regularly assured that their presence in the team makes an impact.
Such people go to work as if they would go on a mission. And therefore simple “well done” does not always sound as a sufficient evaluation for their effort. Just imagine, if you believe you’ve just saved the world an someone simply says, “yeah, well done”. That would not feel proportionate, would it? These people wanna hear true and meaningful feedback. They care to know what aspects of their performance were specifically successful so that they can use it for their future growth.
For such people relationship and appreciation are more important than their salary. They could trade for a lower pay as long as they get a job they like and the manager that feeds them appreciation fuel.
Some of the people live the purpose when they serve people. Simple as that. In this case I’m not talking about doctors, policemen or other life/world saving functions. In every organization there are so called “helpers”. Their main motivation is to help and support someone in need. Either by bringing a cup of coffee on time or by finding a solution to a great challenge. They thrive when solving problems, the harder the problem the bigger the satisfaction.
For the helper it is important to be put into situations where he/she can contribute to something. They love appreciation, but differently than Appreciation seekers they flourish when understanding that their idea/helping hand/support/paperwork significantly contributed and helped others to achieve their goals. For such people gratitude is extremely important. The more specific and precise the better. Again, a random “yah, thanks” will not work as well as “I really appreciate your insight/support/great idea. It helped the team to find the best solution”. Then they understand that their support mission is pure success. They are fantastic team players.
For such people the feeling of being useful is more important than a salary. They will always look for roles and positions where they could help others in direct or indirect manner.
I believe in every organization there are people very dedicated to rules and procedures. They know them by heart and can cite them by bullet point if needed. They are the best guardian angels of existing rules and the creators of new ones. Often such people are not the most favorite in the organization because they always comment if you miss the step in the process or if someone is trying to bend the rules. And yet, for some people the essence of their work is to ensure that all the rules are in place, they serve the purpose and they are followed.
Rules’ sponsors feel satisfaction when they create order in chaos. They have ability to structure things, divide them in smaller steps and make them easy to follow while being compliant to company standards/legal requirements. Their mission is to create structure.
For such employees money is important but their mission to structure the world has bigger weight. Thus, giving them ability to contribute in these processes regardless how big or small they are will ignite their inner fire.
Well, these are the easy ones 😊 No hidden agenda here – money is the main motivator for these people. They are not looking for a deeper meaning in what they do as long as they like the numbers on their payslip.
For such people salary is their main motivator. You can praise and appreciate them as much as you want but all they need is to see the monetary equivalent of the praise at the end of the month in their account.
Why is it important to identify the motivation of your employees?
Knowing the main source of motivation of the fellow peers or direct reports is one of the key elements when assigning people to certain roles/projects. Skipping this step of the process can increase dissatisfaction or even cause the loss of employees for „no obvious reasons“. Imagine that you are Appreciation seeker but your manager does not give you regular feedback sessions. Only an annual review once a year. Or you are a helper but your manager constantly assigns you to the projects where you need to work individually. I guess you understand where I‘m heading to. It‘s the same as putting gasoline into a diesel car and expecting a nice drive.
In order to clarify someone‘s motivation you need to want to know and understand the person. You need to ask right questions and put effort to correctly interpret the answers. The truth is that not everyone is fully aware of his/her main source of motivation. As my experience shows, not everyone can fire away „oh yeah, I‘m an Appreciation seeker“. Hence by asking right question you may need to help him/her to find the answer. But when you get it right – it pays you off big time.
All of us could find that we are a mixture of motivators. Sometimes I seek appreciation, in other cases I‘m super happy to give a helping hand. And that‘s true. Nevertheless there is always the one that leads while others are supplementary ones. Therefore it is very important to tackle the correct one. Beware: multiple attempts might be needed😊
Hence knowing each team member‘s motivation is crucially important when building the team and keeping it strong. If people are assigned to projects and position based on their main qualities, abilities and motivation – there is a potential to achieve long lasting success.