What Motivates? … at Work

Show me the money!? Yes, it is on the list but not that way.

Foot massages while sitting on a Lazyboy chair? You wish.

A 150 day vacation policy? Hmm, I thought I mentioned motivations for working.

Well … lets look at the list.

Ownership. Does your company trust you enough to discuss the work with you and then get the hell out of your way so that you could accomplish your project? It matters a lot when people trust you to do the right thing. It is gratifying to know that people respect you enough to do a good job at whatever you do. This in turn drives one to always put their best foot forward so that they never let their peers/managers down.

Worthiness. Change the world or go home. It shows if one is going through some predictable motions at work – poor work quality and completely disengaged from the company’s overall vision. Whereas on the other hand, if you believe you are on to changing the world then you are extremely motivated to be your best. Your work is going to make a difference. You are working on something that would truly be path breaking. You realize that you are not an inconsequential cog in the wheel. This is what makes something magical happen within you to give your best.

Like Minded People. Are you surrounded by extremely smart people at work? It matters when you have like minded or better people than you at work. It just makes it for an engaging time at work. Somehow one is always better or more engaged when surrounded by people with loads of talent. How often it so happens that you may be feeling little distracted or even a bit lazy mentally. But as you walk into a stimulating brainstorming session, suddenly you tend to regain your focus and energy. Is it not motivating?

Valued. Yes, it is extremely important to be valued at work. No one wants to work in a software factory where your creativity could be stifled by mind numbing processes. One is always more motivated when they know their opinions are valued. They might not be accepted but at least the culture of the company fosters a healthy way of honoring and valuing their opinions. To see the value of being valued just remember the last time when you presented an earnest proposition on a difficult situation. But it was straightway trashed by your boss without any insightful reason. (one step further … may be the same manager proposed the same idea, rephrased, in the next meeting, as his own … right in front of you). Would you really want to work at such a place?

Challenge. All jobs are not created equal. One is always more connected with a job that pushes their boundaries and have them grow as a professional. One tends to have a more fulfilling experience when one is pushed out of their comfort zone. I believe this is a big motivator for those who really want to grow professionally as opposed to those who just keep trying to project the illusion of growth to self or others around them.

Compensation. This is definitely one of the Least Common Denominators. You may not think of it at every minute at work but there will be moments when you will feel uneasy if there is a considerable gap between the good quality of your work and not so good quality of money you are paid. Or, we can look at it this way, this is something that if taken care of can avoid de-motivation.

No Bull Shit. This basically drives that there isn’t any politics at workplace. The company culture must encourage people to focus on work instead of countering the machinations devised by the peers or engaging yourself in trickery to achieve that next promotion or hike before your peers. The company culture should also shield you from non-core chores (that don’t really require your involvement).

Manager. Last but not the least – are you working with someone you respect or an asshole? A great manager could be a driver for doing great work. Whereas on the other hand, if you were unfortunate, well, tough luck. A bad manager has the potential to make you completely emotionally exhausted and suck every ounce of oxygen from your bloodstream. No, I’m not talking about Lord Voldemort but well, someone like him. If you are stuck with a bad manager then all the above perks might not be enough to keep on working in that organization (wouldn’t it be great to work for someone who has ideas and passionate about real work … and can show a hint of light when you are stuck in dark … instead of just being the first one to blame you for even minor glitches).

I’m sure there are more and probably the motivation drivers are different for different people and that too change at the various stages of their lives. But, these are the general drivers that I think matter.

BTW … I brought these to the fore of my mind after we discussed ‘The 360 degree review’, a concept proposed by Tarun. I guess just like a 360 degree review a company should also work on a 360 degree motivation culture.

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