Tag Archives: motivation

They Need the Money

“Why do people work?” Pablo asked.

It was an innocent question, but Pablo always has an agenda. “Okay. I’ll bite,” I replied. “I was going to say they work for the money, but I know you too well.”

Pablo laughed. “You are correct. People work because they need the money. But, if that is all they work for, then you will be hard pressed to keep them when a competitor comes knocking on their door, and offers a dollar more.”

I stared at Pablo with a half smile.

“Would it surprise you,” he continued, “to find out that people need to work, more than they need the money? Don’t get me wrong, they need the money. But, they also need the work. To lead a happy, fulfilled life, people need to work, to make a contribution to a group which they hold in high regard. And, it takes somewhere between 35-40 hours per week to create that internal feeling of significance. If you can create a safe place, where they can do their best work, and that work is valued by their most important group, now you get the beginnings of engagement.”

I Can’t Wait

I can’t wait to wake up in the morning, leap out of bed and head into work.**

  • What has to be waiting for you, at work, for that to happen?
  • What connections have to be there to create that mental state?
  • What importance is linked to the contribution you make, at work?

For a manager, it is not about motivating your team, it’s about team engagement, in the work that we do each day.
—–
**Inspired by Dr. Bill Kent, HornerXpress, National Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award Winner

Too Much Appreciation

Pablo smiled. “Have you ever asked anyone if, at work, they receive too much appreciation?”

“That’s funny,” I said. “No, I have never asked, but I am sure the answer is a light-hearted NO.”

“This is not about gratitude, though gratitude is a worthwhile expression,” Pablo started. “It is more than just saying thank you. Gratitude is acknowledgement. Gratitude says, I see you, here, in front of me. And, you are valuable to my experience. Your presence is a contribution to me. Never underestimate the value of appreciation.”

In Flow

“What you are suggesting,” Sam said, “is that motivation does not require incentives to get the work done?”

“Indeed, the word motivation conjures up all kinds of incentive schemes,” I replied. “Contrast the word motivation with the word manipulation. Most incentive schemes are manipulative, attempting to induce behavior for the benefit of the manager. What I am saying is that motivation, related to work, can be spontaneous, energetic if the team member finds it of interest. It is not the purpose of a manager to find incentives to manipulate behavior, but to set conditions where people find themselves engaged in work of inherent value, where they can bring their full capacity to the problem solving and decision making embedded in the work.”

“But, I need people to work diligently, and I can’t always be there to make sure the work is done right and on-time,” Sam sounded a bit like complaining.

“People work hard, not because they have to, but because they want to. People want to learn and grow. People want to contribute and be thanked for that contribution. It is up to us, as managers, to create the conditions that release a person’s enthusiasm, creativity and initiative.”

In the Zone

“When you look at those four absolutes for success in a role,” I started, “and you hit them all –

  • Capability
  • Skill (technical knowledge, practiced behavior)
  • Interest, passion (value for the work)
  • Required behaviors

what happens?”

Sam had to think. “If I can get a match on every one of these, it is going to have a positive impact on performance.”

“Think harder,” I pressed. “What is the impact on you as a manager?”

“I shouldn’t have to spend too much time checking up, to see if the person is still engaged with the work.”

“Think harder. What is the impact on the team member?”

“I would imagine,” Sam said, “the team member will be motivated to do the work, without my coercion.”

“Sam, have you ever heard of being in the zone, being in flow? When you get a match on all four, you set the platform for performance in the zone. This is where motivation lives. You don’t have to hire a motivational speaker. It happens automatically, overnight.”

A Matter of Matching

“Deep life satisfaction?” I repeated.

Pablo nodded. “Think about yourself, in your own role, working with managers. Do you feel a sense of deep life satisfaction for the work you do?”

“Of course,” I replied. “It’s not something I constantly think about or talk about, but it’s there. You are right, it is a sensation, a feeling. But, you are certainly not saying that everybody in the company gets that same sense for the work they do?”

“And, why not?” Pablo replied with a question. “When people are continually challenged to their maximum level of capability, not above it, not below it, but right at that match-point, what happens to job satisfaction, up or down?”

“Well, up, of course.”

“Do you have to hire a motivational speaker?”

“No.”

“Then motivation is simply a matter of matching capability required with capability possessed,” Pablo could still sense hesitation on my part. “Do you remember your first job?” he asked.

“Of course,” I smiled. “I washed dishes in a restaurant, but that was not even close to my potential, it was just my first job.”

“You see,” Pablo grinned, “even when you tell the story from many years ago, your face lit up. I bet you remember that first paycheck, the uniform you wore, your first sense (sensation) that you were contributing, getting on with the work at hand and contributing to your own self-independence.

It was a beginning, a beginning of life at work, where you continue to show up, each and every day, committed to the full application of your highest level of capability, in pursuit of your potential.”

Important Connection

“What would be valuable for you to know about a team member, as a manager?” I asked.

“Well, what motivates them. What makes them want to come to work,” answered Nathan.

“There is a story about three men who were working together, each doing the same job. When asked about their work, each replied differently. The first said that he was breaking rock. The second said that he was constructing a building. The third said that he and his colleagues were building a school in their community so their children would have a place to learn to read.”

I watched Nathan’s eyes absorb the story. Finally he spoke.

“I suppose it would be valuable to know what is important to each of my team members.”

“Why would that be valuable to know?”

“I have to find the connection,” Nathan started, “I have to find the connection between what is important to them and their work.”

“And if you can find the connection?”

“Then we are in. The sky turns blue, the flowers bloom and the birds sing.”

“And if you cannot find the connection?”

“Then the work will be repetitious, the work will be like breaking rock.”

“And?”

“And, so, I have to keep searching to make the connection.” The conversation became quiet. Nathan was searching, perhaps thinking about his own connection.

Is Money the Answer?

Nathan had some time to think this one over. Giving people more money wasn’t the answer. Compensation is necessary, but seldom a driving force for performance.

“I guess I would have to find out what people really want from their job,” Nathan answered.

“And how would you find that out?” I asked.

“Sometimes, our company puts out an employee survey.”

“And how helpful is that survey to you as a manager?”

Nathan grinned. “Not really helpful at all. The wording on the survey is usually very generic and heck, I don’t even know if the responses are from my team members or someone else’s team.”

“So, how would you find out?” I repeated.

“I guess I would have to just ask them,” Nathan finally concluded.

“All at once, or one at a time?”

“I don’t know, it is kind of a strange topic. I can’t ever remember any of my bosses ever asking me what I wanted out of my job. Maybe I should tackle this one on one.”

“Good,” I nodded. “Now let’s think about what that conversation would sound like.”

Is It All That Interesting?

“What does interest have to do with the behavior of your team members?” I asked. A smile crept across Nathan’s face.

“It’s pretty obvious isn’t it?” he replied. “When someone is interested, they sit up straighter, they pay attention, they have a skip in their step, they ask questions.”

“Is all the work that we do around here, interesting?”

Nathan was quick to reply. “Not really, I mean some things are interesting, but some things are repetitious and only mildly amusing.”

“So, as a manager, how do you keep someone’s interest in a role where the tasks are repetitious and only mildly amusing?”

Nathan had to think on this one. “I’m not sure. I mean it is hard to be interested in some of the assembly work we do.”

“So, if it is difficult to raise someone’s interest, how do you get them to sit up straight, pay attention, have a skip in their step and ask questions?”

Nathan searched his mind for a response, but came up empty. I asked an opposite question. “Let’s look at the other extreme. How do you keep someone from actually resenting the work that you have them doing?”

Nathan’s brow raised, “Well, they do get paid.”

“Yes, but they could take your money and still resent the work that you have them doing?”

“More money?” Nathan floated.

“You could even give them a raise and they might still resent the work that you have them doing? How do you raise the level of interest in tasks that may be repetitious and uneventful? How can you, as a manager, turn the tide of resentment for that type of work?”

Showing Up on Time?

“What did you learn?” I asked. Martin had finished a couple of days speaking with his team about their individual values.

“I gotta tell you,” Martin started, “I have never had this kind of conversation with my team before. I rounded them up the next morning and before we started the shift, I just floated a couple of questions.

  • When we work well together, what is it that we do to make that happen?
  • What could we do more of, to be more effective as a team?

“All of the things they talked about were heavy with value words. Not only do I have more insight into what makes my team tick, they have a better insight. They have never talked about this stuff before.”

“And, how is this going to help you, as a manager?” I asked.

“Easy,” Martin replied. “Something as simple as everyone showing up on time. No one really understood how important it was to show up at 8:00am. Up until now.”