The Strategist

Six reasons why people work (or not)

07/03/2017 - 14:46

Organizations often rely on money as the main driver of staff activity. However, motivation has a much more complex nature. Here are six reasons why people work.

It turns out that there is a range of reasons why people do anything at all. Three of them are direct motives related to human activity and controlling its effectiveness. The other three motivators are indirect. They are separated from the work itself and often hinder high performance.

Direct motives

1. Game

You are more likely to achieve something if the motive of your actions is a game. The game makes you love your hobbies - from solving crossword puzzles to mixing music. The feeling of the game arises when you are doing your own things simply because you like it. You can find the element of the game in an effort to lose weight, prepare healthy food or find new restaurants with dietary menus. If you can find the playful moments in the work, too, then you perform with joy. Usually people are happy to learn and adapt to the new. Some companies give employees an opportunity to play in the workplace. For example, Toyota encourages use of new tools and fresh ideas on assembly lines.

 2. Purpose

This motive is manifested when you assign the main value to the result of the activity, not to the goal itself. You may, or may not like your job, but you appreciate the effect of it. For example, you became a nurse, because you love to help patients. Or you study art all your life because you are convinced: it has a positive effect on people. Not all adherents of proper nutrition bring pleasure in cooking or even eat healthy foods, but they appreciate good health as a result of such a diet.

3. Realization of own potential

The third direct motive is the desire to realize your potential. It occurs when a person is preoccupied with a secondary result (contrasting it with a direct result). You do your job based on certainty: one day it will give you what you consider important. Let's say you serve as an assistant lawyer or his secretary, because this post will help you enter a law college. Probably, you do not like daily routine filling of forms and papers. Or you are not thrilled with the clients whose interests your firm represents, but you continue to work there, because you want to become a lawyer one day.

Indirect motives

1. Psychological, or emotional, tension

This type of indirect motivation arises if a person pushes emotional tension to activity, for example from frustration, guilt or shame to others. These experiences are related to our beliefs (that is, self-perception) and external factors (opinions of others). The work itself is no longer the root cause. For example, a child exercises the piano only in order not to disappoint parents. You do not quit your job, because its prestige increases your self-esteem. In all these cases, the motives are not directly related to the activity; this connection is indirect.

2. Economic factors

You experience pressure of economic factors when you are engaged in some business solely for the sake of reward or to avoid punishment. Economic factors are heard even outside of work - in any kind of activity. Money is not always the main motive. A study, which involved more than 10,000 employees, examined how the economic motive in a person's behavior is related to the income of his family. It was assumed that the greatest pressure from economic factors is experienced by people with the lowest incomes. Later, however, it turned out that the person's income and the economic motives of his behavior are not directly dependent.

3. Inertia

Of all the indirect motives, inertia is the least direct. In this case, the motivation seems very unrelated. You do your job simply because you did it yesterday. For example, a university student automatically attends classes: he has already chosen a certain path and continues to move along it. A department’s head takes up her post not because she is interested, but because she cannot come up with a good reason for leaving. Although inertia is destructive and counterproductive, it is surprisingly common in organizations. Zappos company has found an ingenious way for such situations. Newly accepted people within a month undergo a training program, and then the company offers everyone a monthly salary if they leave. Zappos is not interested in specialists who found themselves in the company "just because it happened."

Based upon "Primed to Perform. How to Build the Highest Performing Cultures Through the Science of Total Motivation" by Neel Doshi, Lindsay McGregor

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