A method for motivation


    Motivation is important for high-performance teams. It's the subjective and personal reason why a person will go above and beyond to deliver a piece of work.

    Motivation comes in two forms. Intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. The latter is the most common and means that the reasoning behind somebody doing something is in order to gain a reward (a bonus) or to avoid punishment (a bad performance review). In other words, the consequences for performance are set by another person as opposed to the one who is pushing to achieve goals.

    Intrinsic motivation is when you perform well for the sake of performing well or to achieve a goal that you yourself have set as opposed to another person.

    Sometimes they go together. Set big, punchy bonuses and some members of your team will push hard to achieve those bonuses. For those team members, while the bonus is an extrinsic goal, the ability to earn good money may also be an intrinsic motivator.

    For those who don't have money as an intrinsic motivator, the promise of a large bonus may not lead to the behavioural changes that a money motivated individual may expect.

    Finding out what drives your team is a fundamental part of management and leadership. Without knowing what the intrinsic motivators are, you are essentially learning by trial and error. You keep changing external motivation factors (bonus, time off, training, promotion) until you notice a change in motivation, but let’s be honest, how many of us sit down and actually think about which levers have worked and which have not?

    In order to figure out your team’s intrinsic motivators, ask them.

    Set aside 45 minutes twice per year and ask the following two questions.


    1. You are sitting at the Christmas dinner table next year and you say, "I've had a great year professionally because....." How would you like that sentence to finish?
    2. The same exercise, but now you are sitting at the Christmas dinner table in three years’ time.

    Ask those questions and listen. Listen hard.

    Your team will tell you their intrinsic motivators and it’s your job as a manager to ensure as many of those intrinsic motivators and personal goals are met.