Along the lines of my current fave topic, Employee Engagement, I have been thinking about Motivation.

A famous Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov in the 1890’s did a famous experiment with dogs and food. Every time he rang a bell he would reward the dogs with food and they would salivate profusely. He discovered that he could get the dogs to salivate without food present just by ringing the bell, because they learned to associate the bell with food! The salivation was evidence of their motivation to receive the reward (food).

What’s that got to do with work?

Think about what motivates you to go to work every day. It is very important to understand what motivates YOU, as everyone is different. There are two kinds of motivation – intrinsic (internal. personal) and extrinsic (external, tangible). We keep doing something, like going to work, because there is a reward in it somewhere. As Careers Specialist I often unpack this with my clients, asking “What is the reward you get by going to work each day?”.

Extrinsic rewards may be: Money, entitlements, Status, Getting out of the house. Intrinsic rewards may be: satisfaction from doing a good job, friendship, being part of a cohesive, productive team, helping others, intellectual challenge, values alignment with the organization, meaning, autonomy, feeling valued and useful…do any of these ‘ring a bell’ for you?

Interestingly, motivational dynamics have changed dramatically to reflect new work requirements and changed worker expectations, according to Kenneth Thomas author of ‘Intrinsic Motivation at Work: What Really Drives Employee Engagement’ (Berrett-Koehler, 2009) One of the biggest changes has been the rise in importance of psychic, or intrinsic rewards, and the decline of material or extrinsic rewards. Understanding the relationship between motivation and reward can be used to build a high-engagement culture in your team or organization. Given the opportunity to self-manage their work, employees identified four factors which were accompanied by a positive emotional charge. These ‘positive charges’ are the intrinsic rewards that employees get from work, ranging in size from quiet satisfaction to an exuberant “Yes!” They are the reinforcements that keep employees actively self-managing and engaged in their work.

  • Sense of meaningfulness. This reward involves the meaningfulness or importance of the purpose you are trying to fulfill. You feel that you have an opportunity to accomplish something of real value—something that matters in the larger scheme of things. You feel that you are on a path that is worth your time and energy, giving you a strong sense of purpose or direction.
  • Sense of choice. You feel free to choose how to accomplish your work—to use your best judgment to select those work activities that make the most sense to you and to perform them in ways that seem appropriate. You feel ownership of your work, believe in the approach you are taking, and feel responsible for making it work.
  • Sense of competence. You feel that you are handling your work activities well—that your performance of these activities meets or exceeds your personal standards, and that you are doing good, high-quality work. You feel a sense of satisfaction, pride, or even artistry in how well you handle these activities.
  • Sense of progress. You are encouraged that your efforts are really accomplishing something. You feel that your work is on track and moving in the right direction. You see convincing signs that things are working out, giving you confidence in the choices you have made and confidence in the future.

Being able to identify what motivates you may actually make a big difference to your attitude to work, your team, your organization. I’m sure being able to tick all four of the above would make it the ultimate job!

If you would like to talk with a Career Development Specialist about finding a job that really motivates you or accessing any of our career services, please call Harvest Careers t: 1300 363 128


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