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What Motivates Us

biscuits-line-white-background1 400x265Despite common assumption, money is not the greatest motivator.

And neither are cookies apparently.  So what is it that motivates us?  Research tells us that doing interesting work, knowing how we contribute to a bigger picture and receiving thanks and recognition (not of the financial kind) are what motivate us most.

So clearly we need to understand what drives each individual, as what we assume motivates someone, may be incorrect.

The best way to do this is when a manager asks their team to complete a motivation questionnaire, then the manager spends time with each individual, learning more about what the team needs in order to do their best work.

The key here is to use the motivation profile to tell you, more quickly and easily than hours of interviews, what buttons really need to be pushed for each individual to put in their best effort. Once you have the profile, you can consider what questions you need to ask each person, to know what they need from you.

The motivation questionnaire can also be insightful for selection – helping a recruiter understand what really makes the candidate do their best work, and sense-checking that against the organisation’s culture.

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What are Motivation Questionnaires?

Motivation questionnaires ask specifically what makes you work more or less hard at work. Whereas personality might indicate what you like, motivation shows us which buttons you need pushed in order to do your best work. A classic insight from a review of both personality and motivation profiles can reveal for example, that an individual prefers less structured work, but they work harder when someone imposes a little structure or sets a tight deadline.

Motivation research shows us that it is not another’s responsibility to motivate a person. In fact, it is really down to each individual to draw their own motivation internally. But a manager, team or organisation can make this easier, by providing the right motivational environment. If we know what buttons are going to be effective, we can get working on the pushing.

What’s the downside?

As with the personality profile, this tool should only be used as a starting point to a great conversation. Using the tool alone, without added interpretation from the individual, is a poor use of a great profile, which can result in misinterpretation, inappropriate action, and little or no value-add.

How to gain maximum value

  • Be open-minded – what motivates you might not motivate others in your team
  • Use the motivation questionnaire as a starting point to a conversation – ask questions to more fully understand what will best motivate your team
  • Make sure you are clear from the outset on your business objectives. Communicate these to all involved so everyone knows why you are using the profile and what the outcomes should be