Three Elements That Sustain Motivation

We all have extrinsic motivators in the work place.  I know that if I want to get paid and keep my job I need to do the tasks that are assigned to me.  There is a big difference though, between just getting something done and being intrinsically motivated to perform that task to the best of my ability or to work toward achieving mastery.  According to Daisy Yuhas in the article, “Three Critical Elements Sustain Motivation”  there are three factors that have been found to impact motivation:

1) Autonomy

The perception of autonomy leads to feelings of control.  When we feel that we have a choice about the tasks we do we are more likely to be persistent and expend more energy in pursuit of our goal.  In a project situation, the way in which team members are engaged in the process can have a big impact on feelings of control.  For instance, during the SCRUM process if team members have chosen post-its off of the task board and put their names on them, they will feel much more autonomous than if a project schedule was handed to them with their name by a task.  Even if they were the only one on the team who could have performed the task, it still feels like a choice if they call it out and claim it as their own.

2) Value

When we value the task or goal related to the activity we are more likely to pursue it.  I know that I feel more engaged in tasks that I feel really add benefit to a project or to tasks that help me to grow in mastery. From a value perspective this is because I believe in being a contributing member to the betterment of society and I also believe strongly in continually pursuing growth, expertise and mastery.  If tasks assigned to employees can be framed in a way that touches on that employee’s values and they can see the benefit of it, they are more likely to be motivated to do it.

3) Competence

The more ability we have in doing a task the more we tend to enjoy it.  This is especially true if we believe that hard work, rather than talent,  leads to mastery and excellence.  When I am first learning a new skill, such as learning a new instrument, I am eager to practice because I’m buoyed by the excitement of trying something new.  After a few sessions however I find that making myself sit down to practice is difficult because the initial excitement has worn off and my competence level is low.  Constantly making mistakes is frustrating.  If I persist in practicing however my competence grows and I garner enjoyment from playing that instrument.  This experience illustrates the idea that increased competence when performing an activity increases enjoyment, which in turn increases motivation.  On a team, a manager may be able to increase a team members motivation by helping them to gain more competence though increased training and mentor-ship or by assigning them tasks where they have a high level of competency.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful.  What factors do you find help you maintain motivation on your team?  Please leave me a comment and let me know.