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Motivation at Work – what you need to know

Submitted by on Tuesday, 5 June 20128 Comments

Ask any Human Resource Manager what the source of motivation is at work, and the chances are you won’t get a clear answer.

To us, this is hardly surprising. While a lot of effort has been put in to understanding motivation at work, unfortunately we’re still stuck with Maslow in terms of understanding what fires our engines.

Even though many HR are still stuck in the Maslow paradigm, things have moved on since then. A lot. Consultants such as Gallup, Towers Watson and Hewitt have studied motivation at work in depth, and without boring you with the detail, here is what we have been able to distil from all of them.

Without further ado, and with the help of this graphic, here is what motivates us at work:

Motivation at Work Explained

Motivation at Work

First off, you’ll notice a left-hand side and right-hand side of the graphic. The right hand side is represented by a bag with a dollar sign on, and this equates to all ‘tangible’ or ‘extrinsic’ motivators. This means not only money and includes other benefits such as bonus and incentive schemes, pension plans, health benefits and other perks.

On the left hand side, you’ll notice three levels of symbols. The top level represents individual motivators, the middle level represents team motivators, and the bottom level represents organisational motivators.

Top Level – Individual Motivators

#1 The first symbol is ROLE. Research has shown that we are more motivated when we have ROLE CLARITY.

Do This. Make sure the scope of your role is clear, and what is expected of you written down. If you’re the manager, do this with all your direct reports.

#2 The second symbol is TALENT. Talent is our natural abilities and essential to our happiness and fulfilment at work. Great managers play employees to their strengths – and they can only do so by understanding their Talent.

Do This. Find out what type of tasks your colleagues really like and really hate. Give them more of the former and less of the latter. The quickest way though is probably to discover their talents and strengths at work via Talent Factor here.

#3 The third symbol is CAREER OPPORTUNITIES. If you or your colleagues excel at your / their roles, what long-term growth plan can be expected?

Do This. If you’re a manager, sit down with the CEO and HR and ask for a Career Development Plan to be created.

Middle Level – Team Motivators

#4 The Medal represents RECOGNITION at work. What communication takes place when a goal is achieved, a target exceeded or a small win accomplished?

Do This. Try spicing up your workplace by giving random gifts for work well done. Before you do this, go for compliments and praise, and before this – make sure you take a fanatical interest in what your colleagues are up to!

Employee Engagement

#5 The two speech bubbles represent FEEDBACK. Studies have shown that Feedback is a great motivator, and especially important for gaining trust in Teams.

Do This. Next time you carry out a project or task, think about one specific area to get feedback in. This could be how you interacted with someone, your delivery, preparation, or overall effect.

Bottom Level – Organisational Motivators

#6 BELONGING This is a very difficult one for most managers to achieve by themselves, but at an organisational level a sense of belonging has been proved to be a real motivators for employees. A great way to start is to promote friendship and community by sharing rituals including meals.

Do This. Share time outside of the office. If you’re a CEO, always try to shape the culture to instil a sense of belonging.

#7 The path represents DIRECTION, STRATEGY and MEANING. What does your company stand for? What direction is it going in? Is that direction clear? What feeling does your company have among your employees? Do they feel like they are having an impact on the company’s direction?

Do This. If you’re a manager, always make sure you ask for and receive details of all relevant strategies, and communicate those to your team. Ultimately it is the CEO’s responsibility to promote all the above.

Liked this? Then you’ll love this!

If you liked this post then why not have a look at Managing for Employee Engagement? This one day training programme gives your team the tools they need to make their company a more motivating place to do business. Enquire here for more details!


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