Sunday, June 5, 2016

What motivates you?

Ever notice that someone will ask you a question to which you don't have an immediate answer, mainly because you never really thought about it before, but once the question is posed and you start thinking about it, the answer is obvious.

Take for instance I was recently asked what are my motivators and demotivators. I didn't have an answer, although I knew on a subconscious level, I had never verbalized it. It is surprisingly difficult to take an abstract thought and put it into words.

Let's start with my demotivators:

  • Lack of communication
  • Micromanagement 
  • Lack of appreciation
  • Dishonesty
  • Inequity
  • Lack of trust

Definition of motivators from The Business Dictionary:
Internal and external factors that stimulate desire and energy in people to be continually interested and committed to a job, role or subject, or to make an effort to attain a goal Motivation results from the interaction of both conscious and unconscious factors such as the intensity of desire or need, incentive or reward value of the goal, and expectations of the individual and of his or her peers. These factors are the reasons one has for behaving a certain way.

Motivators - it seems obvious to me that motivators would be the opposite to demotivators, but while a sense of humor is motivating, lack thereof does not demotivate me, though it does make me feel sad - for anyone who doesn't have a sense of humor:
  • Sense of humor
  • Macro Management
  • Communication
  • Honesty
  • Appreciation
  • Optimism

You will notice, I have not mentioned remuneration. I consider that to be very low on the list. Naturally I want to be paid, and I want to be paid a fair wage, but I will be far more motivated by sincere appreciation, than by payment.

All of these motivators / demotivators are equally relevant in my personal as well as my working life. Micro manager is just another description for control freak, and while I have no issue with being asked to do something, I have a major problem with being ordered to and I thoroughly dislike being taught " suck eggs" (incidentally, something my grandmother actually taught me how to do).

There is nothing wrong with someone giving you instruction from a depth of experience and in order to be helpful, but if it is with the sole purpose of criticism and control, then I have a major problem.

Dishonesty is a major demotivator, and will kill any relationship, in personal and professional life. For instance, if a colleague takes credit for something they did not actually do, or did with considerable help from someone they do not give credit to, they could progress on foot of this achievement. This not only takes appreciation and possible promotion and remuneration that someone else earned, but also they could move into a position where they are unable to perform - thus damaging the entire department or organization, not just to the general well being of the team.

I think with honesty, a sense of humor, communication and equity any relationship, whether personal or professional, will have a very good chance of thriving and being successful and rewarding.

Interaction Institute for Social Change | Artist: Angus Maguire.
Displaying appreciation starts with speech, we are all (I sincerely hope) taught to say please and thank you, and to understand what that means. It is frequently taken for granted when someone says 'thank you', but when they fail to say it there is generally a very strong negative reaction.  Take, for instance my pet peeve, when you stop to let another driver merge into traffic. If they wave an indication of appreciation don't you feel satisfied? but if they do not acknowledge your act of courtesy, I bet you feel less than satisfied - possibly you will think twice before doing so again. The same applies to most cases. A lack of a simple thank you is likely to demotivate you from putting in that extra effort next time.

As always, writing about something clears my head and here is my final list of motivators, qualities that are important to me, the order is not necessarily important, as the situation at the time dictates the importance:
  • Equity
  • Macro Management - not a control freak
  • Honesty
  • Appreciation
  • Sense of humor
  • Communication
  • Optimism - look for the silver lining
While writing this, I had an amazing example of exactly what I was trying to put my finger on. While collaborating with a colleague, located on another continent, he mentioned that he had discovered my book. It is difficult to express how I felt when he said the following - covering just about every one of my points above in one short conversation, how often do we think something like this but never think to express it?

I also stumbled upon the fact that you have written a book
so I went to amazon... and looked inside
read... 3-4 pages which I was allowed to read 
I really liked it... 
I am going to read the entire book... 
You are an inspiration
just the 3-4 pages that I read made my day
I now cant wait to read the entire book
I have 5 year old daughter.... and we have a routine every day to tell her a story about a real person.... and we talk about everyone who has inspired us.....
Any guesses... who was that person yesterday?
It was you :)
I told her how you started your education again when you were 40 and achieved success
While we work on other stuff together... let me tell you I feel lucky to say that I am working with you 

Perhaps what motivates me most is the thought that I could be an inspiration to someone else.

From the Motivation Grid because this I truly believe.