BIMBeing: The Journey #12
#12 – Motivate me…
Photo by KristopherK from Pexels
As part of my progression towards BIM Manager I have recently been enrolled onto various training courses, all non-BIM related, which focus on people management and team leadership. As much as I relish the opportunity to progress, I’d be lying to everyone if I didn’t admit to absolutely dreading this sort of thing. We all know the standard course format: you arrive in a room full of people you don’t know, pour yourself a lukewarm coffee, write yourself a name-badge, take part in a painfully awkward ‘ice-breaker’ and then sit through 6 hours of babble most of which you’re daydreaming through, thinking about all of the work you should be doing and then planning what to cook for dinner afterwards – they’re really not my cup of tea.
I was therefore pleasantly surprised when attending the most recent course that it did not follow this typically predictable pattern, it was genuinely interesting and thankfully very useful – I honestly was not expecting that. The particular topic was motivation and it honestly opened my eyes to what people really want and need in order to feel fulfilled at work, myself included. Motivation is a well-known core element of any successful team or individual, it’s what compels us, but it’s not easy to generate – there is no magic wand. Knowing what drives different people, however, is essential. I found the content so interesting that it inspired me to share this new knowledge with you, here.
Quite naively I started the course thinking this: Money = Motivation, case closed, why do I need to be here? Want me to work hard? Pay me. Want me to achieve more? Pay more. Want me to beat those deadlines? Show me that bonus. I thought it really was that simple, that money was the ultimate motivator for myself and the majority of others; I was enlightened to learn that there is another way, a better way. We all work to earn, that part is true, but real motivation is much deeper.
As with many of these qualitative topics there is a lot of ‘research’ and many theories, published across several decades and all offering conflicting opinions, results and solutions; it’s never as clear-cut as a quantitative scientific or mathematical topic with a definitive answer. Interestingly, in this case, there appears to be multiple case studies concluding that money is not the most effective motivator, several different studies all align. The summary of several pieces of research can be found in Drive, a book published in 2009 by Daniel Pink. Now I haven’t read the entire book (although I intend to), but after being introduced to his work on this particular training course I have dug a little deeper to really understand the fundamentals. I’m already a convert, and I believe everyone should appreciate at least the basic principles.
First, Daniel Pink defines three basic levels of motivation:
- Motivation 1.0: Primitive Survival
- Motivation 2.0: Extrinsic (basic reward and punishment, i.e. financial)
- Motivation 3.0: Intrinsic (based on an individuals internal values, the non-financial motivator)
The majority of companies operate on extrinsic motivational techniques, ‘Motivation 2.0’; employees are rewarded (usually financially) for getting work done or achieving targets and will be punished for failing to achieve. This is the classic form of motivation that I and many mothers am familiar with, work = reward – but there is a better way.
Intrinsic techniques, or ‘Motivation 3.0’, are rapidly becoming accepted as the most powerful tools for motivating people. Its targeted at those that want to improve, that want to achieve more, that are inspired by their work and by their own ambition. It’s becoming more prevalent in the stereotypically ‘modern’ companies, think Google and Microsoft, companies that are renowned for their innovation and positive work environments. These companies are breaking the mould on traditional office based 9-5 working, their empowering individuals to plan and control their own lives. Daniel Pink sets out 3 core components to support Intrinsic motivation: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. Without re-writing his book, these are summarised below.
This is the want or need of an individual to control what they do. Whether it be deciding your own working hours, where you work, how you work or even what you are working on, autonomy puts people in the driving seat and gives them the freedom to work effectively.
Quite simply this is the aspiration for improvement. Wanting to become a ‘master’ in a particular field, subject or role is motivation in itself for those that genuinely want to achieve; it’s most effective for those that see the ‘sky as the limit’ as they’ll constantly seek to improve and therefore remain motivated.
An individual will be motivated If they can find purpose in their work, whether that be a direct outcome or the collective work towards a ‘bigger picture’. This is especially successful where personal goals or community type projects can be part of, or benefit from, the work being undertaken.
It all seems very simple, in fact once you’ve read them it seems obvious, but it could make such a difference to the working lives of millions. Think how much more successful you, your team and your company could be if everyone was effectively motivated? If everyone wasn’t relying on the promise of a bonus in order to want to get anything done, what more could be achieved? There are many examples that accompany the research showing just how much of an impact these techniques can make, it really is tried and tested. So why is it still only the ‘modern’ companies that are implementing this? Why aren’t we all doing it? It’s a huge cultural change from the ‘Motivation 2.0’ that most of us are used to; this scale of change is never quick. If you’re working 9-5 in the office today it’s fairly unlikely that management will agree to you working random hours on a coffee shop beanbag by tomorrow, it’s a huge jump. Step 1 is to generate more awareness, and that starts with all of us.
Far greater detail can be found either in Daniel Pink’s book (Drive, 2009) or a quick google of Daniel Pink Motivation. It’s a fascinating topic, and it’s relevant to everyone. Whether you’re a junior trying to find what motivates you or a CEO trying to motivate an entire company, there is a lot to be learnt from these theories. Everyone is motivated differently, what works for you may not work for your colleague and what works in a particular company may not work in the next. The idea is to embrace the differences and create an environment that encourages positive forms of motivation, no matter how it may be achieved.
Hopefully that’s some good food for thought. Do you have any compelling motivational techniques? Let us know in the comments below!