August 18, 2008

Motivation: Different for Everyone



Is everyone glued to their television watching the Summer Olympics? I know I am. Anyone else getting misty eyed when they play the national anthem? I’m actually feeling a little lazy being a couch potato while our athletes run, swim, sweat and all around exert themselves as I sit in the comfort of my living room.

I’ve been thinking about the motivation of the athletes. Can you imagine the motivation it takes to train for your entire life for that one moment when you may stand on the medal podium? Experiencing either the thrill of victory...or the agony of defeat…the phrase that was coined by ABC's Wide World of Sports? What drives Michael Phelps to swim 17 races and win 8 gold medals in a single Olympics to achieve the thrill of victory? What drives Dara Torres at the age of 41 to compete alongside other swimmers half her age or younger? What continues to drive an athlete when they don’t realize their dream and experience the agony of defeat?

You may observe motivation in others in many different ways. Some people are motivated by achievement and measurements that reward results and an established record. Others are motivated by recognition, applause and compliments. A third option is motivated when they feel accepted by others, have a supportive environment and teamwork. Still others are motivated by precision, accuracy and rewards for quality. Think about the interviews we’ve heard with the athletics, can you pick out the words they used when asked what they wanted from their Olympic experience? The assessment I use in my training classes is DiSC(R) by Inscape Publishing and the four motivational options described above represent the four styles Dominance, Influencing, Steadiness and Conscientiousness.

Thinking about motivation in terms of “to move”, we’re always moving toward something we want and away from something we don’t. Motivation is different for everyone. As a manager you are expected to motivate your team, but can you truly motivate someone? Motivation comes from within so the most a manager can do is to create a motivational climate. Motivation impacts how and what work assignments are given and reward systems. Having a motivational climate impacts whether someone feels successful on the job in terms of what they are doing, how they are doing it and how they are recognized for doing it. One way to determine motivational needs is to use an assessment like DiSC(R) to be able to use a common language. Another effective way to find out what motivates someone is to ask them: “When have you felt motivated at work and when have you felt de-motivated at work?” It may be a bit challenging for a manager who has a team full of people who are motivated by different things, but with a little creativity and problem solving it is possible.

The thought of competing in the Olympics may not motivate you. What does motivate you? What gets you moving?

Deborah Avrin

No comments: