Motivation Part 1

This blog entry is one of three. In this one, I am going to look at one theory of what motivates us to work? The next blog will address what motivates us to work hard willingly and well and the third what demotivates us at work?

Having been involved in the professional development of people for nearly 30 years, I can categorically tell you that if someone doesn’t want to be motivated by external forces, they won’t be. I can also be pretty certain that the KITA school of motivation (Kick in the A***), will get a person to do a task, but not without resentment, and certainly won’t encourage them to do it of their own free will.

Previously we have looked at how power might be played out at work. The KITA approach can be used with Coercive Power, as well as Positional and Social Power abuse and can therefore be unpalatable to the receiver. These approaches will get the job done, but won’t necessarily encourage someone to continue to do the task of their own free will, or empower them to do able to do it.

So, what will motivate them? The saying “the door to motivation is locked from the inside” is true. As managers and colleagues in the work place, we have to understand why different staff members do their jobs. There must also be recognition that what may motivate one person, may not do so for another. This is obviously complex, but the premise we will examine in this article, is based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, in which five levels of human need are portrayed as a pyramid.

In today’s society, most people go to work because they need the money. I read recently that many people are “only four months of no income away from the breadline”. If that is true then Maslow’s ‘Physiological/Biological’ first or most basic level is probably achieved in 2014 by having a steady income, which allows us to buy food and pay for a warm shelter.

The level of income may well then allow his second stage to be achieved, where we need to address ‘Safety/Security‘ needs. We will have the money needed to pay the mortgage or rent, be able to keep our home secure, and perhaps be able to save to allow a monetary buffer, if work becomes unstable or the cost of living rises.

I come across many colleagues who are quite financially stable, mortgages paid off, kids flown the nest, to whom money is not the main driver to come to work. So what is? Cast your mind back to the halcyon days of school. What was the motivator to go? Well, the basic two reasons as discussed above, were met by your parents (or whoever provided for you). So, apart from going to school because it was compulsory, what else motivated you? The majority of us went to see friends, to socialise, to build social networks and perhaps find a relationship (help with that @therealme_PDP).

Similarly, many of us go to work because we like the social aspect of it. The third level in Maslow’s hierarchy focuses on ‘Belonging and Love‘, in which the majority of people need, and relish, being part of a team, belonging to a group, having the camaraderie that can come from working with the same people each day. I meet colleagues who are working far longer than their paid working day. When this is examined, it is not always because they are genuinely overloaded, but more about being part of something that has a purpose.

If your life has that social aspect away from work, you might need something else to motivate you in the workplace. In my expanding work with graduates, on Graduate or Government based Fast Stream programmes, I see this more and more. Financially these new entrants may be reasonably secure, socially very active and happy, so they use work to achieve something else. Maslow’s fourth level of the pyramid focuses on ‘Self-Esteem and Sense of Achievement‘. This is where the workplace is used to gain status or respect, as an individual becomes recognised for being really good at something. People may want to be seen as being the fixers, the experts, and to use work as a place to begin building professional reputations, which in turn will enhance their self-esteem and confidence.

Maslow’s highest level is described as ‘Self Actualisation / Self-fulfilment’. This is when your behaviour is driven by your desire for personal growth and fulfilment, rather than external factors or pressures. Many people will spend most of their lives striving to reach this level, and maybe there is something to be said for retirement, in which people feel they have the time and financial resources to really engage in the activities they wish to do, regardless of how crazy they may sound!

If you agree with Maslow’s theory, then each of these different levels will need to be understood, in order to motivate yourself or others at work. To paraphrase Ricky Gervais “you can’t learn the cello when you are eating out of bins!”

Next Blog – What makes us work hard, willingly and well!
Richard

Power at work

Power at work

As promised from a previous blog relating to assertiveness and dealing with people that have little regard for your rights.

There are various theories about how “power” plays a role in the work place, having an understanding of these theories might put you in a better position to be assertive.

Here are a few indicators that I find useful when the situation looks a little tricky.

POSITIONAL POWER – The obvious power play, this derives from the grade, rank or position that you hold, it’s about status. Many senior managers in organisations use this deliberately to get things done, that probably should have been planned better. “I am your boss and I am telling you to do it!”, “your family commitments need to wait, this deadline must be achieved, just get it done”. We see this Power play in everyday life. Why do Policemen (It is only men) wear helmets? So that they stand out, so that their status / power is readily observed. Some police forces would only recruit above a certain height to exacerbate this. (lets not get drawn into how well you do the job or how you behave, just give us big ones, ho hum) In a court of law judges sit higher than everyone…uniforms in the military.. uniforms at work.

EXPERT POWER – “I am the recognised guru in this field, challenge me at your peril! For I am the font of all knowledge”. Unfortunately many people confuse expert with length of time served, therefore you can be perceived as the expert just because you have lived long enough. How many colleagues do you know that have 10 year’s experience, but actually only had 1 year, but repeated it 10 times!  Learning little in the past 9 years.

COERSIVE POWER – The ugly use of threats to get people to do things. Often, but not exclusively, comes with Positional Power, frequently an abuse linked to social power.

MORAL POWER – “We must do this because it is simply the right thing to do”. A hard power play to argue against. The usual failing of this is that the right thing to do is often based on subjective feelings or misdirection, rather than objective facts, trends etc. “The Government of Syria should not gas civilians”. Well of course not, a point that makes absolute sense. However why was it OK to kill and injure civilians using other methods? And why were we silent then?

SOCIAL POWER – This is a bit more delicate. How do you discipline a colleague when he is having an affair with the chief executive? Some people deliberately use their patronage to behave badly towards others. Although I have recently seen an example where a competent hardworking colleague was getting some really poor work allocated to her. The reason? Daddy is a senior manager and her boss doesn’t like Daddy, because Daddy got the job the manager wanted.

PERSONAL POWER – Some people are just really charismatic, regardless of their position. I am sure that all of us recognise people at work, home or in the pub that influence enormously because of their personal power.

I hope that makes sense, just a taster. Now think about your tricky situation, what are the powers being used? How can you use that knowledge to your benefit WITHOUT VIOLATING THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS? Richard