Thoughts on Motivation

I am taking a Summer class on leadership that has a focus on organizational behavior.  It is an interesting class so far, but then I tend to like psychology and organizational behavior is really the study of psychology of people in the work place.  As part of the course we have been asked to do a group project and our group has to teach an hour and a half on motivation.

This has me thinking about what motivates me in the work I do.  I think that money is a long term motivator simply because if I didn’t make money at what I do I would be forced to do something else in order to make the bills.  As an incentive though, most research suggests that short term cash rewards, such as bonuses,  actually result in worse performance for work that requires thought.  This would suggest that since I do knowledge work my manager would need to focus on other areas of my work experience than money, although if they want to keep me around I do expect to make a competitive wage and some wage progress over the course of my career.  Money…not interesting, but a necessity to move myself up on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs past the basics.

What I think motivates me is the following:

1.  A growth opportunity that stretches me but does not sabotage me, and that helps me progress in an area that I’m interested in.

2.  An environment that offers support and mentor-ship, if I need it, but otherwise gives me the freedom to work in a way that works for me and gives me some room to be creative and self-reliant.

3.  Honest and timely feedback on my work that helps me to hone my performance.  I want to hear if the project I worked so hard on was useful to others.  It is a major motivator for me to know or anticipate that the work I’ve done has added value.

I think that I have this vision in my head of who I am becoming, and I work best towards goals that help me work toward actualizing this vision.  Self reliance is important to me because I need to feel that I am creating this person and developing competencies.  If someone attempts to micromanage my efforts I start to feel like a robot accepting instructions and that kills my motivation quickly.

Outside of this it is really more about avoiding de-motivators such as an unstable workplace or management that seems anxious and unpredictable in their goals and actions.  High uncertainty in a workplace causes me stress and makes me wonder if it is worth forging ahead on initiatives as everything could change and all my efforts subsequently be rendered fruitless.

Being the self centered person I am I tend to think that what motivates me, also motivates others, but everyone is different.  What motivates you?


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