Mental Health Monday: Motivation Part 1

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Mental Health Monday: Motivation Part 1

What factors impact motivation?  Can we increase motivation in ourselves, colleagues, employees?  What distinguishes those who get up and go from those who watch?

Experts have studied motivation in excruciating detail from every angle possible.  There are benefits to behold for anyone who can tap into human motivation and identify what drives someone forward in the pursuit of excellence.

While we can argue there are hundreds of contributing pieces, Brian Tracy contributor to American Management Association, highlights four key factors that impact motivation:

(1) leadership style

(2) the reward system

(3) the organizational climate, and

(4) the structure of the work

Leadership style depends in large part on the goals and mission of the organization as well as the skill sets of the employees.  Whether it be a top-down approach or a more egalitarian, collegial style– it has to work for the personality of the leader, the needs of the company, and the expectations of the employees.  

Reward system is a simple Pavlovian Principle that says whatever behavior or outcome you want increased you must target and boost the reward or incentive.  Humans are motivated by reward and finding out specifically what reward motivates your staff is key–Is it monetary? Time off? Flexibility?  Learn to speak your teams reward language and they will likely rise to the challenge.

Organizational climate is a little less tangible than rewards.  This is in large part associated with treatment of one another and the interaction between leadership and staff and amongst colleagues.   Organizational climate starts at the top where leaders set the tone for respect and human interaction.  Research shows individuals who feel respected, heard, and safe are more creative, motivated, and productive on a daily basis. 

The structure of the work is tailored to the employee in order to maximize motivation.  Work that is monotonous, routine, or isolated may be a perfect fit for individuals who seek out that structure and extroverted individuals who crave interaction, dialogue, and creativity will find motivation from work structure that allows and encourages those aspects.  Matching employees with tasks that meet their personalities will increase workplace productivity and satisfaction. 

While not included in Tracy’s four factors one additional factor known to contribute to increased motivation is goal setting.  In particular, goal setting is crucial for success in the business world.   Matt McKay, a writer on goals and motivation with experience in entrepreneurship, corporate training, human resources, and technology, breaks down the importance of goals:

“Used for measuring performance, increasing revenue and meeting business challenges, goals ideally include specific guidelines, details and outline resources necessary for attainment. The act and practice of goal setting allows the business and its employees to gauge the direction the business wishes to go, and can give credence to established business models, mission statements and overall objectives.” 

So today we leave off with an opportunity to reflect on your own organization:

  • What is the leadership style within your organization?
  • Does the current reward system offer incentives and speak “your reward language” or that of your employees?
  • Is the organizational climate one of warmth, openness, respect, and emotional safety?
  • When work is assigned does it take into account employee talent, interest, and personality?
  • How often do you engage in explicit, public goal setting? 








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