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Unleash Your Motivational Drivers

Published on 30 Aug 2009 by David Simpson

Do you really know what motivates you to perform at work? If this is difficult for you to work out, then how can you guess what motivates your team members to perform as well? I challenge you to try a simple exercise for yourself and then replicate this with your own team or aim even higher and use it on the whole organisation.

The Motivation Indicator is an excellent activity for a conference icebreaker, team session or even as a catalyst for your next in-house meeting with your own team. Start by asking yourself this question “Why do I go to work?” List each of these on a separate piece of paper. Responses can range from Challenge Myself, Career Path, Family, Travel, Good Team, to Prestige and of course the big one Money. It’s good to take time out and really discover and clarify for yourself why we do go to work each day. Be sure to write out at least twenty motivations.

Next group these pieces of paper into columns of similar themes. E.g. A Material Column for Money, Bonus etc. Then maybe a Development Column for Career and Challenge etc. This will enable you to organise your particular motivations more clearly. Now you can start to prioritise these motivations to confirm your exact preferences. Start by selecting the ten motivations most important to you and write these on the diagonal lines as demonstrated on the grid below. (E.g. If Motivation #1 is “money” write “money” on the first diagonal line.)

Now comes the fun part. Go to the top-left corner of the grid, to the square containing “1 2.” The trick is, look at motivation #1, and then look at motivation #2, and decide which one is more important to you. Don’t worry about the other motivations, you are only concerned about #1 and #2. Circle the number of the motivation that is the more important of the two. Then, move down to the square marked “1 3″ and do the same thing for motivations #1 and #3. Continue through the whole grid, making sure to concentrate only on two motivations at a time. When you are done, you will have lots of numbers circled.

Now, go down the grid, and count up all the times you have circled #1, and write that number next to motivation #1. Then, count up all the times you circled #2, then #3, and so on. When you finish, you will have numerical values for all 10 motivators. To check your math, the totals should add up to 45, if not you’ve made a mistake somewhere. Your top motivations are the highest ranking on the Motivation Indicator and for ease of reference you can list the top 5 below the grid.

To gain total working success make sure all these motivations are present in your day to day work. If they are not present you will not be enthusiastic about reaching your goals. Think of some project you are working on and ask yourself if the motivations you have ranked are present in each of these projects? If not you will need to reframe and adjust the project so they become more prominent. This way you will enjoy reaching your goals and experience less stress as the process turns out to be more enjoyable and reflects your true motivations.

Next challenge, choose someone you think is struggling with a project and have them try the exercise. This will help them realise and confirm what is missing from the project in terms of their particular motivations. Now make sure they include these motivations in all aspects of their work and they will be well on the road to success.

So what is the secret to motivation? You may well have been surprised by your own results from the exercise. Maybe you thought Money was the biggest motivator but it turned out to be Development or Job Satisfaction. If it is difficult to realise your own motivations, how do you expect to figure out your team’s? Instead have them complete the Motivation Indicator. There is no secret to it or any hidden agenda. By finding out what motivates our team we can make the effort to ensure that these motivations are present in all areas of the working environment. This will ensure a happier and more productive team. The Motivation Indicator is a simple tool to help us achieve this.

David Simpson

Co-Founder & Training Director at Team Building Asia

Challenging people to reach their highest potential through experiential, interactive and fun workshops with a strong and meaningful business outcome.


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