Motivation at Work – A Make it or Break it

Find Your Motivation at Work

In this article, you are going to learn why motivation at work is a make it or break it, in 3 easy steps:

  • #1 Understand the secrets and the science of motivation.
  • #2 Learn the critical motivation theories in just minutes.
  • #3 Use the practical guide – Motivational traffic light.

First, What is Motivation?

The word itself comes from Latin and means moves. To explain its meaning, we can separate the words into motives for action.

Motivation Kickstarts Action 

Motivation is the motive for the action, either good or bad. For example, what motivates a leader into creating joy, wellness, and success in a company. Or, what inspires a murderer to commit terrible crimes. It is all about motivation. Therefore, it doesn’t matter whether it’s good or bad.

Motivation is simply a driving force that kickstarts you into action.

Step 1 # Understand the Secrets and the Science of Motivation

Critical to Know – Motivation is Always a Seeker for an Unfulfilled Need

Motivation seeks to fulfil a human need at a conscious and unconscious level. It is critical knowledge for everyone to know because, by understanding the secrets behind humans need, you can understand the motivation. So, with the right knowledge, you can develop motivation and create freedom, love, and good results at work.

In Ancient Times Motivation was Linked to the Soul’s Purpose

In ancient times, motivation was understood as a driver to complete the souls’ journey. Plato and Socrates were deeply dedicated to explaining human psychology and our motivational factors which mean in the last decade’s evolution we have opened the door to the daily importance of motivation.

Nowadays, we look, with good reason, at humans’ needs, at all levels, to create wellness, joy and make good results in life and business. We understand that motivation is linked to the whole being; mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Motivation Meets Science

The facts from science are overwhelmingly positive. These numbers confirm that every business should highly pay attention to motivation at work.

A stack of speech bubbles written with Facts on

Here are the numbers from science:

  • Motivated employees produce 28% more profit (Watson Wyatt).
  • Companies with highly motivated employees outperform others by 47-202% (Gallup).
  • The probability of motivated employees leaving a company is 87% lower (NCFC).
  • Business units with motivated employees are 43% more effective (Hay Group).
  • Motivated employees have 66% fewer sick days (mentally caused) (Grant Thornton).

Step 2 # Learn the Critical Motivation Theories in just Minutes

To create motivation at work we need to simply learn to understand human needs. Here are 5 great theories that give you strong forward knowledge.

Remember; Motivation is a Seeker of an Unfulfilled Need

Let’s start with the most famous theory of them all. Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist who created the hierarchy of human needs, developed back during the 1960s and 1970s.

MBM graphic of Maslow's hierarchy with half a coloured pyramid

Unfulfilled needs are predominant. This means that the next higher level of needs is not activated or triggered until the principal condition is adequately satisfied. Therefore, a person only progresses up the hierarchy once his lower-level market is sufficiently happy.

To clarify, the needs and motivation should be stabled in a hierarchy. Level one must be fulfilled before moving next to level two, and so on. That means you will naturally not focus on level five before you have fulfilled the other levels and so on.

According to Maslow, we always need to complete the three first levels before moving into developing ourselves.

Finally, the first three levels are the classic needs of all human needs. The highest levels, numbers 4 and 5, are the growth needs, or the need for personal and professional development.

Next, there is another theory that makes a perfect fit for Maslow’s.

Frederick Hertzberg was a psychologist and researcher, and he had a straightforward motivation theory that is well worth taking into consideration.

Herzberg Split the Motivational Needs into Two Simple Groups

  • The dissatisfaction – levels 1, 2 and 3 on Maslow’s motivational pyramid.
  • The satisfaction – levels 4 and 5 on Maslow’s motivational pyramid.

According to Herzberg, all employers need to focus on serving the primary need (the three first at Maslow’s pyramid). If they don’t then there will be dissatisfaction and no motivation.

Another essential core element in Herzberg’s theory is that even if you fulfilled the first three levels of Maslow’s needs – (physiological, safety, and social conditions), it doesn’t mean that you are satisfied or are motivated. You are just not dissatisfied anymore. So, to create satisfaction, you need to fulfil levels 4 and 5 (personal and professional development) on Maslow’s motivation hierarchy.

An American psychologist, McClelland, is well recognised for his motivation need theory based on the growth levels 3 and 4 in Maslow’s motivational hierarchy. According to McClelland, all humans have primary dominant core needs that are a core ruler of motivation. Therefore, one of the following needs is prevalent and more important than the others:

1. The Need for Power

The desire to control, influence, or be responsible for other people – Like Maslow’s level 3.

2. The Need for Affiliation

The desire to maintain close and friendly personal relationships – Like Maslow’s level 3.

3. The Need for Achievement

The desire to do something better than it has been done before – like Maslow’s level 4.

Businessman celebrating achievement at his desk

Daniel Pink

The author who wrote the well-known motivation literature “Drive,” has three motivation needs to maximise the motivational driving factors. The three needs are Mastery, Autonomy, and Purpose (level four and five of Maslow’s pyarmid), and according to Pink, the three needs work perfectly together.

Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan, both psychology professors, have developed a motivation and psychological theory. According to them, there are three core competencies in humans’ motivational needs. The approach focuses on the degree to which human behaviour is self-motivated and self-determined in 3 needs: affiliation – level 3, competence – level 4, and autonomy – level 5 on Maslow’s needs hierarchy.

Step 3 #  Use the Motivational Traffic Light as a Practical Guide

How to Motivate at Work?

Use the Motivational traffic light as a practical guide to creating motivation at work.

Read Light – No, Don’t do it

Close up of red traffic light for pedestrians

Creating motivation at work is a huge plus, and an even more critical task is to stop demotivation. Remember, Herzberg tells us levels one to three must be taken highly seriously and not for granted. So, consider the three first levels like motivational insurance that we wisely choose to pay and keep attention to.

A red light is simple: do not disturb the primary three levels on Maslow’s pyramid.

  • Don’t reduce or take away already established needs, benefits, and comforts at work. For example, coffee, food supply, cell phones, and other demand or excellent office supplements. Because if you do, you will create dissatisfaction (Herzberg).
  • Be sure not to remove any safety spaces that can create fear and discomfort. For example, reducing or deleting a personal office, bonuses, health insurance, or any other supplement that could trigger level 2 on Maslow’s safety and protection needs. Because you can create demotivation, stress, fear, and anxiety.
  • Keep the opportunities for social dining, social networking, and teambuilding in place beside the typical workflow. Since loving and belongingness are needed to exist and avoid demotivation, don’t allow the social culture to be on a different “caste system.” Treat everyone with respect for social validation and connection, and this will breed motivation.

Yellow Light – Prepared Good Motivational Question  

Close up of orange traffic light against blue sky

To create motivation at work, you can prepare good motivational queries and use them for connection, good communication among leaders, teams, and individuals. Consider communication to be the golden Britch to create motivation. After all, it is impossible to be good to motivate and not suitable to communicate. Motivation skills start with questions to collect information about critical needs and create opportunities and solutions

Here is a basic start-up question:

  • Physical needs: What are your basic needs at work?
  • Safety needs: What do you need to feel safe and secure at work?
  • Loving and belonging needs: How can the work best fulfil your needs for social connections?
  • Ego and self-esteem needs: What is necessary for you about your self-esteem, mastery, and autonomy?
  • Self-actualisation needs: What is your full potential, your mission and whole purpose at work, and how will you know when you have it?

Greenlight – Yes, Motivation – do it

Close up of green traffic light against blurred buildings

To create high motivation and satisfaction (Herzberg), fulfil levels 4 and 5 on Maslow’s motivational theory.

  • Start a strategy workshop for creating motivation at work, and if necessary, make different motivational strategies for various groups and leaders. Use Maslow’s hierarchy as a critical guideline.
  • Conduct an individual motivation strategy by talking with the employees and asking them about the five levels of needs and motivation. Then, collect the results and create high motivation with the new knowledge.
  • Finally, create a workshop where you teach the staff about motivation and human needs. This can be beneficial because it causes great self-awareness and great self-responsibility where the team on an individual level take charge of their own needs as much as possible. After all, the highest level of needs is self-actualising. So if you trust the motivational experts, you are willing to give the staff more autonomy and mastery for their motivation levels.
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