What Motivates Us?

What Motivates Us?

Managers in these difficult times ask what motivates staff members. Of course having and keeping a job is most important nowadays but fear is a difficult motivator.  What motivates employees is a big question in all organisations. HR is interested in engaging employees and how could we do more as an organisation? The traditional answer to motivation was if you wanted something special done pay out bonuses. It worked when people were doing heavy mechanical work if you paid something extra you got more output. However in the modern knowledge based society this is no longer true. For instance we paid bankers huge bonuses as they had to secure safe investments and create more money. We all know now that didn’t happen. Well how is this possible if bonuses are the answer to motivate people?

Modern knowledge employees are not really motivated by money. Yes, they are interested in getting enough money to live comfortably, but once that is secure they will look for other things to motivate them.

What will motivate employees in this modern society? There are three things staff will be motivated by in the modern knowledge based industries: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.

Autonomy – People want the option to be able to be self-directive and have some influence on what they are doing at work. Management has a need to direct everything and leave too little room for self development. This is great for a controlled production environment but it leaves little room for thinking in a knowledge based industry.

Mastery – People want to get better at what they are doing and increase their knowledge and skills and are willing to improve themselves. Most people want to become experts in what they do and are willing to go the extra mile to achieve this.

Purpose – A company that has a clear purpose which makes sense to people will give an extra incentive to work. People want to make a difference in the world. If their company offers a purpose in life then this can be a great incentive to work. That’s why Skype wants to be ‘Disruptive in the cause of making the world a better place’ and that why Steve Jobs wanted to put ‘A ding in the universe’. These things are different and make you want to go the extra mile and perform and are more effective than just the single goal of making a profit.

There is a very interesting video on YouTube which explains how motivating employees works. I suggest having a look at this video.


I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

By | August 26th, 2013|News|

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