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Motivation – what’s it all about?

Shawn Anchor of the Happiness Factor claims that 10% of one’s happiness comes from externally driven factors such as money, relationships, possessions and status, while 90% is driven solely from how you choose to see things. The key word here is choice; and he claims that because we have this option we can exert more control over our happiness than we might think.

Could we possibly look at motivation in a similar fashion? How much is externally driven and how much is from within? Could it be as radical as with the Happiness Factor that 10% of one’s motivation being driven by factors such as rewards and incentives (extrinsic) with the remainder being what truly makes us feel good (intrinsic)?

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs would contend that before you even get to extrinsic or indeed intrinsic, some basic physiological, safety, social and esteem needs have to be met first. Then once taken care of, Maslow argues for a case of self actualization. But what drives self actualization? Is it motivation? Within the workplace one could make an argument that extrinsic motivators, such as pay and benefits only serve to address basic needs. However “self actualization” can truly be attained through intrinsic motivators such as challenge, autonomy, growth which ultimately lead to optimum performance.

Dan Pink talks about the greater relevance of intrinsic motivation when compared to certain types of work, namely the more creative, hard to measure type positions. Others such as Herzberg and Hackman & Oldham offer similar theories.

Whatever the circumstances, whether you are looking to motivate or be motivated, the following 4 Keys to Motivation permeate through all the research relative to workplace situations.

1. Reward: take care of the basic needs – pay sufficiently to eliminate this as a factor. It may not guarantee peak performance but without it nobody shows up.

2. Purpose: create a clear understanding and meaning attached to whatever is to be done.

3. Engagement: actively involve people with some autonomy and they will willingly and wholeheartedly offer their services.

4. Acknowledgement: communicate verbally or otherwise contributions when tasks are accomplished and / or results achieved.

What you will find is motivated people are happy people and vice versa. And the driving force behind all this – what lies within!!

About Bill Sex

Bill Sex is President of New England Coaching and specializes in supporting personal, professional and organizational advancement with specific emphasis on coaching skills, emotional intelligence and employee engagement / motivation.

One Response

Comment from Tom Dowd
Time: March 10, 2013, 2:23 pm

Thanks for the contribution. I toiled in inconsistency for almost twenty years in a corporate job where I blamed others for my lack of growth and unhappiness. My defensiveness and bitterness turned a once promising career into simply a job with a potentially disengaged employee. About five years ago, my company was bought. I faced a choice of leaving, getting lost among 300,000 employees, or acknowledging that I could make a difference for myself and others. That simple change in attitude to make a difference not only increased my satisfaction level, but I found that my success soon followed. I was finding value in the work I was doing and contributing to the development of others and the company bottom line. Your article is a great reminder of how the simple approaches to motivation can make a huge difference in motivation. Thank you for sharing – Thomas B. Dowd III author of “From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide” and “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World”

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