The Complexity of Motivation
Motivating staff is probably one of the most difficult tasks any manager has to deal with. What really motivates someone? One of the main issues here is that what is motivational for one may be a complete turn-off for another. Also, the drive of someone at managerial levels isn’t necessarily the same as that what entices people on the workfloor.
Basically, as a manager you simply won’t be able to motivate everybody in the same way. However, you can definitely create the conditions which will maximise the likelihood of your staff being motivated in their work. Key here is to keep in mind that you should always aim to manage the system, not the people.
A major first step in managing the system is to shift your focus from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation. There was a time when most of us used to work primarily for the paycheck (extrinsic), which allowed us to pay for the lifestyle we’d prefer, but this isn’t the case anymore. Money alone just isn’t good enough, we want our work to be meaningful (intrinsic); to really make a difference. But how do we know who cares about what?
To dive a bit deeper into the abyss of staff motivation, Management 3.0 thinker Jurgen Appelo created the tool of CHAMPFROGS Moving Motivators, for which he studied the work of Daniel Pink, Steven Reiss and others, and identified 10 factors of motivation that might positively or negatively influence people at work. The word CHAMPFROGS doesn’t actually mean anything, it’s just a silly acronym to help us remember the ten motivators, but the tool itself is great to help identify what truly motivates and engages your staff.
Curiosity – Being motivated by having plenty of things to investigate or think about.
Honour – Being motivated by a feeling of pride that your personal values are reflected in your work.
Acceptance – Being motivated by receiving approval for who you are and what you do from the people around you.
Mastery – Being motivated when your work challenges your competence, but within your abilities.
Power – Being motivated by being able to influence what is going on around you.
Freedom – Being motivated by being independent of others with your own work and responsibilities.
Relatedness – Being motivated by having good relationships with your colleagues and/or customers.
Order – Being motivated by having enough (but not too many) rules and policies in place to create a stable work environment.
Goal – Being motivated by finding that your (self-identified) purpose in life is reflected in the work you do.
Status – Being motivated by the position you hold and the recognition you receive from others.
In his book Managing for Happiness, Appelo (2016) outlines an exercise you can play with your staff to visualise what makes them tick. Playing the game is very straightforward. First, every ‘player’ receives a deck of cards in which each card represents one of the ten factors of motivation. After reading through the cards, everyone then individually arranges them to rank from least to most important.
There’s no right or wrong order in this exercise, everyone will have their own priorities. Experience has taught us that, despite its simplicity, this game can be a really eye-opening experience for people to learn about each other. Especially if we run workshops with groups of diversified attendees from the same organisation, the main take-away is always to never assume others are like yourself. Everybody is wired differently, a valuable lesson for both managers and their staff.
A follow-up to this is to confront the group with a recent managerial decision or a change in their work environment and ask them to indicate how this affected their motivation. They’ll do this by moving a card up if they felt positively affected or down if negatively, after which they’ll explain their reasoning to each other.
Again, this often turns out the be a mind-blowing experience (especially from the managers’ perspectives) which clearly shows how complex our motivations really are. With his Moving Motivators game, Appelo has succeeded in giving us a tool to express what intrinsically motivates us and also the ability to visualise what is important to whom.
[T]here you are.
Appelo, J. (2016). Moving Motivators in Managing for happiness (pp. 193-216). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Appelo, J. (2011). How to Energize People in Management 3.0 (pp. 69-98). Boston, MA: Addison-Wesley, Pearson Education.
Appelo, J. (2017). Management 3.0 Employee Engagement Exercises. Retrieved 16 April 2017, from https://management30.com/
Tarnowski, M. (2015). Moving Motivators – card game to reflect on employee’s motivation. Plays-In-Business. Retrieved 15 April 2017, from http://www.plays-in-business.com/moving-motivators/
Header Graph and other illustrations: © Jurgen Appelo CC-3.0-BY https://management30.com/