What Drives Motivation in the Workplace?

A person’s motivation is a combination of desire and energy directed at achieving a goal. Influencing someone’s motivation means getting them to want to do what you know must be done.  We define motivating as effectively mobilizing the resources to be engaged in the work at hand.  As a leader, we must always remember that a person’s motivation depends upon two things:
1.The strength of certain needs. For example, you are hungry, but you must have a task completed by a nearing deadline. If you are starving you will eat. If you are slightly hungry you will finish the task at hand.
2.The perception that taking a certain action will help satisfy those needs. For example, you have two burning needs – The desire to complete the task and the desire to go to lunch. Your perception of how you view those two needs will determine which one takes priority. If you believe that you could be fired for not completing the task, you will probably put off lunch and complete the task. If you believe that you will not get into trouble or perhaps finish the task in time, then you will likely go to lunch.

What Motivates People?

I have found that people can be motivated by such forces as beliefs, values, interests, fear, and worthy causes. Some of these forces are internal: needs, interests, and beliefs. Others are external: danger, the environment, or pressure from a loved one.  There is no simple formula for motivation – as a leader, we must keep an open mindset on human nature. There is a complex array of forces steering the direction of each person and these forces cannot always be seen or studied. In addition, if the same forces are steering two different people, each one may act differently.

Leaders must understand that the level of personal achievement is based on the size of a personal vision. Super achievers have a vision that is bigger then life. Most people limit their goals to socially acceptable standards, not what they feel. The individual capacity to achieve is so far beyond what we see most individuals accomplish.  As leaders, if we can help individuals see and become part of a bigger vision, we open a flood of new achievements that would have not been possible without the vision. Everyone has different talents, interests and learning methods. Goals (both individual and the company’s) must be in harmony with these attributes for maximum opportunity. While finding this harmony is another barrier for the leader to overcome; when harmony is found (we link personal and professional vision and goals, and a burning desire established, success will feel certain.

A burning desire is the foundation for truly productive motivation. Our teams do not need to hear motivational speakers or have money to start.  As leaders, we already have the most significant startup tool – creativity.  Just use it!  Dreams stimulate creative thinking. Helping people turn dreams into mini projects produces a burning desire.  A series of successful mini projects is preparation for the bigger than life vision.

Leaders should recognize that every person, at some time, had a desire to be an achiever. For so many people, this ambition was destroyed by some past experience – a failure, the fear of speaking up, having the people around them telling them their ideas aren’t valued.  Under the right leadership, this latent desire can come back to life.  My greatest joy as a leader has been seeing that magical spark of vision coupled with desire for success return to someone’s eye.  It’s priceless.