Posted by: A.R. Cherian | September 24, 2009

What motivates you?

What motivates you at work? Whether you believe in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, McClelland’s need theory, Herzberg’s two-factor theory, equity theory, or expectancy theory there is something intrinsic that motivates everyone. It could be a factor of many things and not neatly tied into any one theory.

For me, I have a high need for self-actualization and what McClelland would call “need for power” (the socialized kind) and “need for affiliation.” I have also noted in myself that I have a benevolent equity sensitivity. Those are all technical terms – what it really means is that I look for goals that make a difference in the world, the well-being of my organization, maintaining friendly relationships with others, being a giver rather than a taker, and patience in attaining these goals.

I think it’s important as a manager to get to know your employees personally and ask questions to gauge what it is that exactly motivates them. Three ways to increase employee motivation is by training (to increase perceptions of success due to increased ability), coaching (increasing confidence), and task assignments (to increase perceptions of success due to increased experience).

I think all three are important in a healthy work environment along with equitable (fair) conditions for the amount of work put in and the benefits received.

Everyone is motivated by something. Managers should learn this about their employees and not abuse it. Employees should understand what motivates themselves so that they can understand why they may not be achieving their goals or are unhappy at work.

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