25 Feb 2020

How to Get Motivated at Work

If you look at the concept of “work” from a wider perspective, it is obvious that it can play various roles in our lives. We know that sometimes work is an instrument for realizing one’s ambitions; sometimes it gives the ability to communicate and interact with other people, and sometimes it has much more prosaic meaning: work is just a way to exchange your time for money. We think that thanks to a different attitude to work, employees will have different reactions to the same motivational things. 

Let’s imagine a novice leader who is passionate about his tasks every day, who willingly attends training courses and independently buys professional literature to improve his skills, and who is interested in big goals and large-scale projects. It is unlikely that he will get motivated, and his enthusiasm will be maintained at the right level if the company is limited only to a standard set of employee motivation programs in the form of a compensation package, insurance, etc. Such an employee will need something more to stay motivated. For example, he may need the opportunity to regularly participate in teamwork together with more experienced managers, or to independently carry out important and daring projects, or maybe something else that encourages the manager’s high involvement in his work and increases his performance.

We can distinguish five models of attitude to work with most modern employees. These five models are quite universal and can be found in almost any organization at different levels of management. The models are based on a generalized answer to the question: what is work for a person? Perhaps by reading the description of these models, you will recognize yourself and be able to better understand what specifically keeps you motivated at work. It is enough to understand your life goals and how these goals are related to your work and can be realized through it. Thus, your work will become much more efficient, even if sometimes you feel like not in a mood to work.

Let’s consider each model in more detail along with those features that distinguish employees for whom this model is peculiar:

Work as a way of survival

Working is a kind of vital necessity for an employee. It can be assumed that if he had such an opportunity, he would not have worked in a particular position, or in this company, or would not have been engaged in any labor activity at all. 

Such an employee serves a sentence rather than works. When it comes to his daily tasks, this person will do only what his boss says. Most likely, he doesn’t really like his job, yet, he has learned to pretend and make the right noises about the importance of focusing on results and working for the good of the company. 

The employee can be a good executor, but he will not want to take on enhanced commitments and show initiative. If included in a new project, he will work without understanding how this will affect his overall career and life. Such employees always dream about an upcoming weekend or vacation when they can get away from the job; the time when they can save up money and start some kind of business or retire.

Work as a way to get money

This type of employee is focused on obtaining the maximum financial outcome from his professional activities. You can meet such people working with a passion for some expensive hobby. For them, working is a way of maintaining a chosen style of life with the help of money. They are good, confident professionals who understand how much their work costs in the market.

Most likely, accepting a job offer, a person with a similar attitude to work carefully weighs where he will be able to get more money while working in more comfortable conditions. There will always be issues as for compensation in the first place, which will include a salary, the ability to receive bonuses, benefits, retirement plans, various privileges, including maintaining social prestige. This will be followed by specifics of the job: work environment, features of the company's management team and staff, company culture, etc. All this will affect the lifestyle such a person can get with an appropriate balance between work and personal life.

Work as a way of self-identification

Such an employee may feel like he is fully identified with his work, his position and what he does in a company. His job is often a “matter of life” for him or a hobby that has grown into a great way of making money. 

Such a person can work hard with pleasure, staying engaged throughout the day while being concerned about the general well-being of the company. He responsibly takes his scope of duties and also monitors what happens to his colleagues. It is obvious to him that problems in one business unit can eventually cause difficulties in his own work. So, he always wants to make sure that everything is fine. 

Such a person, as a rule, makes no distinction between work and rest: often, he can go to the office for an hour or two at the weekend, stay late on in the evenings, get to work while on vacations and so on. Most friends of such people work in the same field, if not in the same company. In its extremes, this sticking to hard work is manifested in the form of workaholism. 

Work as a way to achieve social success

According to such an employee, success in life is equated with social success, and a good career can give it all. All his working activity is aimed at achieving a higher career point in an organization. As a rule, such employees strive to work in a large company, because when it comes to small organizations or businesses of the “family” type, they feel cramped.

These successful people can consistently increase their level of professionalism, hone their planning skills, weigh their capabilities, get skills that are missing for the next career step and want to work with solving more complex problems to that end. Many people of this type like “career wars”, competitiveness, the opportunity to get into various under-the-carpet battles, especially if career lifts in the company are not clear and understandable. Sometimes such people perceive career growth as a struggle and see their colleagues as potential rivals. They feel good if they never stop getting into challenges. So, after winning another career battle, these self-motivated employees just set the next career goal.

Work as a means of self-realization

This attitude is rarely encountered in real life. Moreover, as a rule, it is inherent in managers rather than ordinary specialists or assistants. 

A person with this attitude is always motivated to work since he believes that work gives him strength and energy instead of taking them away. Such a motivated person is inclined to continue to love his work in spite of all the obstacles. He wants to fully realize his potential and invest his strength in work. All these desires make him truly dedicated and motivatedatwork. 

Those people have resistance to burnout because they can find a perfect balance between a reasonable involvement in their professional activities and workaholism. They literally put their souls into the work done during their working hours.

Any leader can do something that is likely to positively affect the motivation of his subordinates or something that can have a negative influence. If you look at it through the prism of a different attitude to work, which actions or activities of a manager will contribute to increasing the staff’s performance and which ones will cause the lack of motivation in employees?

Work as a way of survival

Reduce motivation:

  • Lack of recurring bonuses 
  • A lot of work
  • Overtime 
  • A large variable part of wages

Increase motivation:

  • Predictability and job stability
  • Clearly defined responsibilities and their limits 
  • Various kinds of salary increases like “complete the project on time – receive an extra day for vacation”

Work as a way to make money

  • Reduce motivation:
  • Lower wages than available in the market
  • Lack of revenue growth opportunities

Any reduction in a salary or stopping its growth

Increase motivation:

  • Improving the quality of the employee’s working conditions, for example, the frequency, predictability, and conditions of business trips, the amount of work on weekends and vacation duration
  • The possibility of obtaining a significant variable part in wages

Work as a way of self-identification

Reduce motivation:

  • Doubts about the professionalism of the employee
  • Unconstructive feedback or harsh criticism from a leader 
  • Lack of company training
  • Lack of projects for revealing all of the employees’ hidden qualities

Increase motivation:

  • Supervision and training from a professionally more experienced specialist or manager
  • The possibility of advanced training through additional activities in the workplace
  • More complex and significant projects
  • Leisure time spent with colleagues

Work as a way to achieve social success

Reduce motivation:

  • Lack of changes in the employees’ career (such an employee is afraid of losing time in vein)
  • The equal treatment of all employees 
  • Transfer to a position that does not allow moving up the career ladder

Increase motivation:

  • Showing the steps and opportunities for both the “vertical” and the “horizontal” career moves in the company
  • A formal increase in the status of such an employee (a new significant position while retaining all the attributes of the previous position)

Work as a means of self-realization

Reduce motivation:

  • A formal attitude to work from the leader (for example, manifested in the phrase “why bother, this is just another project”)
  • Projects that do not allow the employee to do what he likes most

Increase motivation:

  • Working in a team of like-minded people sharing the employee’s passion for professional activities
  • Transferring the employee to a more responsible position, allowing him to use his high engagement for organization purposes

It is important for a manager to understand at least two principles of employee motivation in the context of their attitude to work:

  1. Verify existing capabilities. It is advisable for a leader to compare the existing capabilities of the motivation system in the company with the needs of his subordinates. It is possible that all needs are realized through the actions taken by the organization. For example, if the company has an established bonus system, HR regularly monitors the market for adequate wage rates and, at the same time, the majority of employees in the department consider their jobs as means of earning money, it hardly makes sense to do something extra. In addition, you need to understand whether the company can give an employee what he might be interested in.
  2. Calculate the “price”. Engaging additional motivation for employees who are not a strategic resource of the company is not recommended. If a manager understands that a specialist working in his department isn’t passionate about his job, doesn’t work very well, has a limited set of skills in his profession and can be generally seen as a “dead weight”, investing time in such an staff member is irrational: it’s easier to find a new specialist.

Long-term experience shows that by observing these principles and relying on differences in employees’ attitudes to work, a manager can significantly increase the involvement and motivation of the personnel of his business unit. This will affect the overall success of the company. It is much more effective to work in a team that is aimed at achieving a result when people motivate each other and clearly understand their goals. 

 

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