In a recent webinar on A Closer Look at the New Science of Motivation, best-selling business author Susan Fowler opened with an interesting question for attendees, “Why are you here?” And it wasn’t just a rhetorical question. Fowler wanted attendees to take a minute and assess what their motivation was for attending. Here’s what she identified as possible answers.
- I am not really here. (Well, maybe my body is, but my mind is elsewhere.)
- I am being paid to be here. (And if I wasn’t being paid—or receiving some other type of reward—I wouldn’t be here.)
- I have to be here; I’d be afraid of what might happen if I wasn’t.
- Being here aligns with my values and will help me and my organization reach important goals.
- Being here resonates with me; I feel it could make an important difference to others in my organization and/or help me fulfill a meaningful purpose.
- I am inherently interested in being here; it is fun for me.
A quick survey found that people were attending for a variety of reasons including all six of the possible choices above. Fowler went on to explain that the first three choices were all “Sub Optimal” motivational outlooks that generated poor results. She also shared that outlooks 4, 5 and 6 were the “Optimal” motivational outlooks that most closely correlated with intentions to perform at a high level, apply discretionary effort, and be a good corporate citizen.
What motivates you?
What’s motivating you on your tasks at work? Is it a “carrot” (External #2) or a “stick” (Imposed #3) approach? If so, what’s the impact been on your motivation and performance? Chances are that you’re not performing at your best. Even worse, you could find yourself feeling somewhat manipulated and controlled, which rarely brings out the best in people.
For better results, think about what it might mean to employ a more Aligned, Integrated, or Inherent approach. Find ways to connect the dots for yourself to create a more intrinsically satisfying strategy.
3 ways to enhance motivation
Fowler suggests beginning by evaluating the quality of A-R-C in your life. Looking back at over 40 years of motivation research, Fowler shared that the answer to creating a more motivating environment is a combination of increased Autonomy (control of your experiences), Relatedness (working together with others), and Competence (developing and refining new skills). The good news is that anyone can change their motivational outlook with some self-awareness and self-regulation.
Could you use a little more motivation in your life? Most of us could. To find out more about Fowler’s thinking on motivation and bringing out the best in yourself and others, be sure to check out Fowler’s free, on-demand webinar recording, A Closer Look at the New Science of Motivation. You’ll discover some of the common mistakes people make when it comes to motivation and what you can do to improve your outlook. Recorded on October 3 for an audience of 700 participants, the download is free, courtesy of Cisco WebEx and The Ken Blanchard Companies.