2.1 Your Motivations

Posted by Mike Kaaks

13 March 2019

2.1 Your Motivations_2

The question of our motivation in a work context is visible on at least two levels. The big picture that describes how we feel about going to work at the moment of waking up and jumping out of bed. Of course you might read that and be thinking “who starts the day like that? I just want to pull the covers over my head and go back to sleep!”. At a more detailed level motivation is about what inspires us to do more, be more once we are at work.

In the big picture, what motivates you is the world your business has created. If it’s a great place to work, chances are you are a jumper not a back-to-sleeper. The difference created by making a great place to work are not felt just in the desire of people to get going in the morning. It translates into financial performance as well. Companies in the top ten list of good places to work are most often found in the top quartile of financial performance.

If you work in a great place to work and yet still like to pull the covers over, then the view of motivation needs to be more directly about you. Are you doing work that aligns with your values? Do the values of the company align with your values? Does your work give expression to your purpose? These are critical questions, especially when we are looking to change jobs. Aligned personal values with corporate values is a harbinger of success. We’ll turn the light onto Purpose and Values in section 4 where you’ll have the opportunity to think more deeply about this.

Even closer to the coalface is the question of your motivation as you do what you do. Dan Pink, in his books, and his seminal talk on TED that was subsequently brought to greater light by RSAnimate, makes it clear that this is much more than a story of carrot and stick. He points out that these traditional levers continue to work well when the task is mechanical, repetitive. However when our work is not mechanical he shows us that carrot and stick actually drive down motivation and performance. What succeeds in this type of work is appealing to our being. He points to three areas where this plays out. Autonomy – our desire to be self-directed; Mastery – our desire to get better at things; and Purpose – to act in service of a greater objective. When we work within these conditions, motivation drives amazing outcomes.

Unlike the other issues, I’ve offered two continuums here so you can reflect on how each of these might influence your motivation.

Intrinsic Motivation

  • Autonomy
    • Our desire to be self-directed
  • Mastery
    • Our desire to get better at things
  • Purpose
    • To act in the service of a greater objective


Extrinsic Motivation

  • Carrot
    • Reward the desired outcomes
  • Stick
    • Punish failure to achieve desired outcomes

In your experience do you respond more to:

2.1 Cont 1

When pursuing results through others do you more often use:

2.1 Cont 1

Absolutely You