How to figure out what motivates you at work

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How to figure out what motivates you at work

5 Ways to Drive Team Productivity Working from Home

Working remotely with a dispersed team has been a challenge for many. Established methods for…

Your work values and motivation are important for chosing a profession and for your performance in a position. Determining the values that are important to you in your work and keeping them in the back of your mind, will make it easier to decide if a job is a good fit for you. They can also help you make adjustments to make you happy in your position.

Work value test in an assessment

In an assessment these work values often are a topic of discussion. What is your motivation and what do you consider to be important in your work? This can help determine whether you are the right person for a position, or it can help you and your managers work towards positive changes that ensure that you enjoy your work more.

Values

When people think about work values, they often focus on issues like creativity and integrity. Is creativity in your work important to you, or do you prefer a transparent and well-structured organisation? Do you want to mean something to people or is having influence more important to you? Usually a work values test presents you with a number of statements to determine what your work values and motivation are.

Test yourself!

A work values test can be a very useful exercise to determine your own work values. Awareness of what you really find important will give you an understanding of the direction your career should take and the kind of environment you would feel comfortable in. A short work values test will give you that understanding.

It is interesting to contemplate your competences and skills before heading towards an assessment. That way you are prepared and you know where your strengths are. Read more about competences and skills.

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  • Jung personality test
  • DISC personality test

123test is an independent European company and your privacy is guaranteed. These tests are right on target!

How to figure out what motivates you at work

Two questions I often get in workshops, from coaching clients, and in consulting engagements are:

  1. How do I work with an unmotivated person? and
  2. How do I motivate someone to work harder?

Here are the quick answers:

  1. There is no such thing as an unmotivated person. Everyone is motivated to do something. Therefore, everyone is motivated.
  2. You cannot motivate someone else to work harder. You can find what is important to them — what motivates them — and then find ways to make sure they get more of that as a reward for high-level performance.

According to this model for understanding what motivates behavior, behaviors come from our choices about what he hope to experience (in some cases what we hope to avoid experiencing). So, the key to “motivating” another person is knowing what they view as a reward for working hard or doing a certain behavior. (No, I did not change my mind about your ability to motivate someone else. I’m just using the word in a figurative sense.)

As a leader working to influence the behavior of other people, here are three clues you can look for to know what motivates them to high-level performance

  1. Their personal lives
    Their hobbies and other outside work activities are clues to what they enjoy and what might motivate them to behave in certain ways or to achieve great results.
  2. Their DISC behavior style
    When you understand their behavioral style, you have at least partial insight into their needs and desires. When you understand another person’s needs and desires, you have good clues about what they might view as a positive motivator.
  3. The tasks they like to do at work
    Sometimes, you can let people do what they would prefer to do after they accomplish what they don’t want to do so that the preferred task becomes a type of reward. This approach is sometimes called Grandma’s Law: “You can have desert after you eat your broccoli.”

Over the next few posts I’ll elaborate on each of these three clues to offer some practical application tips.

Simple steps to fulfilling your potential.

Posted Nov 18, 2015

How to figure out what motivates you at work

Over the last 20 years, I’ve asked thousands of people what motivates them and the reply – more often than not – is surprisingly vague. I find this curious because understanding motivations is a requirement for anyone who wants to be fulfilled and effective in their professional and personal life.

Take the example of Ravi who ran one of the most successful business units in his organization. His team’s sales figures were at a record high but he wanted to leave his job, and he couldn’t understand why. He thought he may be burnt out or depressed, but as we reviewed the times in his career when he’d been most passionate about his work, a different picture emerged. Ravi’s most fulfilling roles had always involved solving technical challenges and yet he was now expected to focus all his time and energy on managing others.

As we looked further, there was more. Ravi was well paid in his current role and grateful for the personal benefits this brought, but he didn’t find the money particularly satisfying. When he looked back through his working life, he realized that feeling appreciated was worth more to him than financial gain. I hardly needed to ask if he felt thanked by his boss – the answer was no. The picture became clearer still when Ravi identified that, whenever he wasn’t learning new skills, he’d always wanted to move on to a new job. And yet, in his current role, he could deliver his targets with his eyes closed.

So, in a matter of minutes, it became clear that three of Ravi’s top motivations were technical challenges, being thanked for his work and learning new skills, none of which were being met in his job. Somehow this hadn’t been fully evident to him, and his manager was certainly oblivious to it, because they’d never talked about it.

We’re not all the same

The first thing to recognize is that other people’s motivations may be very different to yours. Your top motivation may be the success of your team, while the person at the desk next to you thrives on independence. You may love variety and constant change, but your partner longs for stability and structure. You may be motivated by internal recognition – based on your personal assessment of whether you’ve done a good job – while your teenager desperately wants external recognition.

So how can you get a handle on motivations?

Step 1: Figure out your own motivations

  • Think about the times when you’ve been highly motivated and the times when you’ve felt most demoralized. These will both point you to the same set of motivations. For example, in the jobs I’ve loved, I’ve experienced a sense of freedom. In the ones I hated, I felt trapped and suffocated, which is an absence of freedom. You can discover your motivations by reviewing the bad times as well as the good ones.
  • Now conduct a personal experiment. As you go through your week, notice what’s motivating and demotivating you. If you come home and say you’ve had a good day, why was it good? Just as important, what made your day bad? You may think it’s just because ‘stuff happened’ or ‘stuff didn’t happen’, but there’s usually a link to motivations.
  • Create a list of motivations and then rank them in order of priority. This is a subjective process. For example, here is my list of motivations when I’m at work:
  1. Having a sense of freedom
  2. Taking on impossible challenges
  3. Working in partnership with people I trust and respect
  4. Feeling that my contribution is making a difference
  5. Expressing my creative spirit
  6. Being fully in communication with others
  7. Feeling trusted, valued and acknowledged
  8. Having variety in my work
  9. Learning new skills that stretch me
  10. Being competitive and winning.

When my motivations are being met, I love every minute of my work. When they’re not, I get itchy feet or I become miserable. Now I understand what to look for. If I can’t see a big challenge, or don’t feel able to make a difference, I know I’ll be better off going elsewhere. If there isn’t room for my creative expression, I’ll feel constrained and frustrated.

  • Test your list as you go about your everyday life. While it may change slightly according to your life circumstances, many of our motivations remain remarkably stable over time.

Step 2: Ask people about their motivations

  • If you manage a team, schedule time with each person and follow the same process of identifying when they’ve been motivated and demotivated; you’ll learn so much about them. If Ravi’s boss had taken the time to do this, he could have prevented a situation where Ravi walked out of the door with 30 years of experience.
  • You can do the same exercise as a parent. My teenage son has little interest in academic studies but loves social interaction, wants to feel stimulated by a subject, and enjoys variety. This gives a huge clue to how he learns best. When he has an exam, his revision is more motivating and productive when he conducts it as a conversation with a friend or family member, and when he switches regularly between topics. When we remember to set it up this way, he’s more motivated to study. This approach beats moralistic lectures and nagging complaints, which will only be met with grudging compliance or outright resistance.

Step 3: Talk about motivations

  • It’s not enough to notice motivations: what’s important is to discuss them. If you manage people, make sure your one-to-one meetings aren’t just about goals and objectives. For example, if you know that one of your team members is highly motivated by career progression, make sure you periodically review the route-map to a promotion. And if you can’t see opportunities for them to progress soon, be aware that they may leave if a better offer comes up.
  • Rather than waiting for your manager to instigate a conversation about motivations, tell your manager what you need from them. They’re not mind readers, so you need to tell them how you operate at your best. The same is true in your relationships and with your family.

There won’t always be a perfect fit between your motivations and the situation you find yourself in, but if you understand how you operate at your best, and discuss this with the people around you, you have a better chance of creating the circumstances that match your motivations. What’s more, if you understand other people’s motivations, you can help them fly.

My book is Blamestorming: Why Conversations Go Wrong and How to Fix Them, published by Watkins.

If you’re struggling to get out of bed in the morning, ask yourself these 5 questions

How to figure out what motivates you at work

How to figure out what motivates you at work

I’ ve written before about how motivation is a complex subject. For many of us, work fulfills basic needs for support and social interaction, but not much more.

However, if you can discover a job you’re intrinsically motivated to do—as in, it fulfills our needs to have purpose, autonomy, and challenge—you’ll not only be happier and more content, but have increased learning, performance, and creativity, according to a recent review of studies.

When discovering how we’re motivated to do our job, there are a few questions to ask yourself:

We have higher levels of intrinsic motivation when we pursue goals that challenge our abilities. Where the outcome is uncertain, but we understand the path we need to take to get there. Too little challenge and we become bored and uninterested. Too much and it adds to our anxiety and stress.

Do your daily tasks challenge you or do they feel simple and repeatable? Are they constantly changing or does every day feel like just going through the motions?

Internal motivation is increased when something grabs our attention about the work we’re doing. This could be a new challenge, applying your current skills to a new client, or uncovering a potential path to some new innovation.

Unless there is something driving you forward and urging you on to learn or adapt your skills, you won’t stay motivated to complete it.

More than just time management, we’re talking about the freedom to choose how you work. Is your schedule set for you when you show up? Or do you have some autonomy to work how you want?

Working with others helps build the purpose and meaning that’s so important to intrinsic motivation. Is the work you do part of a larger goal? Do you have ample opportunities to work with others and talk through your work? Is there a culture of friendly competition at your work?

We’re social creatures and crave attention and praise. However, when we’re intrinsically motivated to work, recognition becomes an added bonus, not the main event. Still, it’s important to know the work you’re doing matters.

Look at your work environment or leadership. Do they regularly show appreciation for the work being done? Is recognition and positive feedback a part of their management style?

If it’s a slog to get out of bed in the morning, you’re most likely suffering from a lack of motivation. Which can be demoralizing. Life is meant to be lived with excitement and energy. Not simply going through the motions just to bring home a paycheck.

Ask yourself these questions to see what’s motivating you at your job. Or better yet, use the answers to start identifying areas where you can make positive changes to your day-to-day tasks. With the right changes to our goals and work environment we can build a career we’re motivated and excited to work towards every single day.

I help companies and interesting people tell their stories through smart and focused writing. Want to work together? Email me at [email protected]

A version of this post was originally published on the RescueTime blog . Check us out for more essays on productivity, focus, and motivation.

How to figure out what motivates you at work

Would you be offended if I said there is a good chance you don’t know what motivates your employees?

It’s not personal! In fact, most leaders misjudge how to keep their employees engaged at work. It seems like many employees would be motivated by higher pay or more vacation time, right?

Surprisingly, a Gallup poll shows that — more than money — people are motivated by development opportunities. 87% of millennials say development is important to them, and of that group, two-thirds say it’s extremely important. Another Gallup poll states that people are more likely to leave a job if they feel their unique strengths aren’t being recognized.

So how do we figure out what motivates our particular team members?

Like most things, it starts with a conversation. Few leaders have ever had an honest, direct and open conversation with team members about motivation. There’s a yearly review mostly focused on past performance and that’s about it.

We can do better! Use the beginning of each quarter as a reason to engage in these grounding conversations. Create the expectation with your team that you will do this more than once a year and together take action on the information they share with you.

Ask your team members: “What project gave you the most energy last quarter?” or “What had you feel most engaged at work over the past few months?”

As strange as it sounds, directly asking your team members “What motivates you?” probably won’t result in the answer you’re looking for. Humans are notoriously bad at understanding or communicating what motivates them. And even if they do know, they may be hesitant to share that information with their boss.

So instead of asking them a question they probably can’t or won’t answer, try asking them about the projects that energized them. Did they get energy from facilitating meetings? Negotiating contracts? Mentoring new hires?

When you know what energizes your team, you can look for opportunities to give them more work that lights them up.

Other potential questions:

  • “What projects or tasks were the most draining?”
  • “Where would you most like to grow and how can we help with that?”
  • “Where do you feel like you’re contributing most to the team?”
  • “Where are you not contributing enough but you’d like to contribute?”

Add motivating aspects to less exciting projects

Not every project can be a dream project. But once you know what energizes and motivates your team, you can tuck some of those “fun” tasks into each project.

If you know that Jess loves facilitating or presenting, make sure she leads sharing the findings of the less-than-super-fun project to the client. If you know that Chris thrives when he’s leading newer team members, put him in charge of project managing the new hires for that somewhat-boring project.

And when you do this — when you add these energizing, motivating tasks to someone’s plate — make sure they know you did that on purpose. This can be as easy as saying “Jess, I know you mentioned that you really like facilitating, so I thought maybe you could present to the client.” When our team knows we’re listening to their needs and trying to meet them, morale and productivity goes up.

Check in at the end of the quarter

After your team has spent three months doing more of the work that energizes and motivates them, check in again. How do they feel now? Do they feel energized? Empowered? Do they feel like they’ve expanded their skill set?

And ask them that same set of questions you asked at the beginning of the quarter. Work together to create a plan that will help them continue to learn, grow and excel within your company.

Motivation is a slippery thing. It varies from person to person and it changes over time. While it requires a bit of extra work to check in with each team member and tweak projects to fit motivations, it’s an approach that will pay off in better results and more engaged teams.

Want deeper support in engaging and motivating your team members? Help is a click away.

“What motivates you?” as an interview question may sound odd, but what the hiring manager is trying to figure out is what makes you tick. The manager is looking for insight into why you are motivated to do this particular job and if it’s a good fit. In this article, you’ll read:

  • Why Ask This Question
  • What Kind of Motivation
  • 3 Types of Intrinsic Motivation
  • How You Can Find Your Honest Answer
  • Sample Answers

Why Ask “What Motivates You?”

When hiring managers ask “what motivates you?” they already know that you need a paycheck. Managers also know that you can work anywhere. This is another way of trying to understand what drove you to apply to this particular position.

The hiring manager is also trying to figure out if your personality is a good fit for the role. If you’re clearly a people person, than a job doing data entry with little to no communication with other people isn’t the job for you. They need to know if you’re the right personality for this position. No one wants to hire someone only to watch the new hire be miserable. Your performance would suffer, your boss would know that they had made the wrong decision, and ultimately you would leave, either by your own choice or not.

Ways to Ask “What Motivates You?”

This question also shows up as:

  • Does something in particular drive you?
  • Name what inspires you.
  • How do you push yourself at work?
  • what influences you at work?

Types of Motivation

Motivation is what causes us to get up and do something. There are two kinds of motivation:

Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation refers to external rewards meaning outside the person, such as awards, social recognition, money, or praise. This can be difficult to keep up after a period of time, such as when someone reaches the top of their field. It is excellent in fields such as manual labor or sales, but if creativity is involved, the amount of pressure can ultimately lead to defeat. This kind of motivation is as good as the reward is a novelty. This kind of motivation is excellent to get a group of people to work together or to achieve a specific group goal.

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that comes from within. It’s because the act itself is rewarding. For instance, if you are cleaning your house because guests are coming over, that’s extrinsic motivation. If you enjoy being organized and appreciate a clean place to live, that’s intrinsic motivation. When people are overly praised for the bare minimum, they are less motivated to do extra work. This is one reason why most managers use extrinsic motivation sparingly.

3 Types of Intrinsic Motivation

According to this TED talk by Dan Pink, there are three types of intrinsic motivation.

  • Autonomy – to self direct our own lives
  • Mastery – to master a skill to get better and better
  • Purpose – a greater purpose of something larger than ourselves

For some tasks, rewards narrow our focus. For any jobs related to cognitive work, you need to have your own motivation. Do you have a story of when you took control of a problem? Took it upon yourself to learn something new? Worked on a project for the greater purpose?

“What Drives You?” or How You Can Find Your Honest Motivation

In an interview, this question is specifically about what motivates you intrinsically. The hiring manager already knows what kind of raises, bonuses, and awards are handed out. Your best answer will, of course, be an honest one, so think of what you actually enjoy.

An easy way to figure out how to answer this is to think about what you enjoyed at your past jobs.Think about what kind of work environments you enjoyed, such as whether it was a loud vs. quiet, cooperative vs. competitive, busy or slow, etc. That will give you a good idea what kind of work you enjoy and what kind of situation you’d prefer to work in.

Telling a story about when you showed your motivation is more memorable than just listing something.

Sample Answers About Motivation

Things that you might genuinely like doing that provide intrinsic motivation:

  • solving problems, including someone else’s
  • coaching others
  • meeting deadlines or hitting targets
  • solving difficult challenges
  • creative projects

If you need an example of a good answer to “what motivates you?”, we have written three examples:

Example 1

I love finishing assignments before a deadline. I know people complain about them, but I love the thrill of accomplishing something before it’s necessary. When that happens, it’s not only easier for the next person who needs my work to be done, but also reflects well on whatever team I’m on. When I was working as a picker at the Timberland shoes warehouse, I loved meeting the goals before they were needed. My team all got into it and by the time I left, we had the top numbers for the whole factory three months in a row.

Why it works: this answer is great because it shows that they’re able to not just meet deadlines, but surpass them AND that they have the soft skills to encourage the rest of the team to do the same. This person has a great attitude that clearly inspires other people around them to also do excellent work. If their performance meets this answer, not only is this person hired, but also likely to be promoted to a team lead type of position.

Example 2

I really love digging into data and solving problems. Working with challenges is a big thrill for me and the more complicated, the better. At my last job there was a piece of coding that gave us trouble, but it was such a thrill when we solved it. Whether it’s working on a team or independently, I just really love solving puzzles like that.

This answer shows that they’re willing to work on challenges in any team environment. This is excellent because it shows the main drive really is to solve problems.

Example 3

What motivates me about working with patients is knowing that I’ve done absolutely everything I can to get them their medication delivered to them. Giving them the best customer service I can is really important to me. My drive to constantly give the best experience and solve their problems as efficiently and effectively as possible is the reason that my patients have consistently given me five star reviews for the last year and a half.

Here you have an excellent answer from someone working with medical patients. It shows how customer service drives this person forward and an outside result showing that they are good at it. Giving an outside result is an excellent way to “prove” that you really have this motivation.

In Conclusion

So the next time you’re asked “What motivates you?” in an interview, you should have a good idea that they want to hear about an internal motivation. We’ve gone over the different kinds of intrinsic motivation, how to answer honestly, and some examples.

Work is called work for a reason. No matter how passionate you are about a certain field, you are inevitably going to run into aspects of your career that you are…

How to figure out what motivates you at work

How to figure out what motivates you at work

Work is called work for a reason. No matter how passionate you are about a certain field, you are inevitably going to run into aspects of your career that you are not fond of. If you are in a current position because of the money or security it provides, you may be even more impacted by the truth stated above.

That said, the mindset and approach that we take when we approach anything in life is what dictates our overall experience. If I come to work feeling drained and not wanting to do anything, I am not going to get anything out of my job. If I find motivators in my job that remind me of why I am doing it, however, I am going to fare much better.

The problem that many face when they are trying to find motivation around them is the actual act of becoming aware of these motivators. Awareness is always the first step to change (and it is also the hardest). If you are trying to figure out what motivates you at work, continue reading below for further insight into how you can become a happier, more productive worker!

Step 1. Take a Moment to Consider Why You Are in Your Current Position

When we work somewhere for a significant amount of time, the daily grind can become something that we do on autopilot. When we do work in this mode, we end up losing ourselves along the way.

It is only when we approach work with the mindset of providing value for both the employer as well for the customer that we are able to gain some sense of achievement from it.

For example, let’s pretend that you are working a basic scheduling job. On the surface it may seem boring to you, causing you to lose focus and energy. When you take a closer look, however, your job is quite important.

People rely on you to make sure that they are getting enough hours, that they can get important days off when they need it, and that the organization runs smoothly, even in times of crisis. You are in charge of all of these aspects, and this ultimately provides value for those around you.

Ask yourself, why do I have this job?

Is this a job that you love doing? Does it involve work that you are passionate about? Is there anything that you really enjoy about this position? If you can remind yourself of why you took the job in the first place, you can find that spark to do better work again.

If you are in a job solely for financial reasons, you can still find the motivation to work (even though it may be a little more difficult). We will dive deeper into this concept in the next section.

Step 2. Map Out Your Future

In some instances, our future is more exciting than our current situation, and that’s okay! The good news is that you can leverage your future to your advantage by using it as motivation to work harder.

Consider each job that you hold or will hold as a stepping stone on the path towards your ultimate goal. While your current job may not be super exciting or fulfilling, it serves a purpose. Whether that be in the form of building your resume, teaching you new skills, helping you save the money to look for a new job, or providing extra money on the side, there is a purpose for everything!

In order to benefit from the job that you have and find motivation in it, take a moment to consider the points above. Then, build a plan for the future.

To give you an example, let’s imagine that your path looks like this:

  • My current job as an office assistant will allow me to save money and learn important skills that I can use in a position above my own.
  • Once I finish my degree this summer, I can apply for a better job in an entry-level marketing position, where certain office-based skills will come in handy.
  • While working in this entry-level position, I can further develop my skills on the side and ask for new projects that meet my needs and capture my interest.
  • Then, (continue your road map…)

Not only does a comprehensive plan remind you of how your current position serves you but, it keeps you excited in future positions as well.

Remember, however, that goals only work when they are specific, set to a deadline, and broken down into smaller, more achievable tasks. This will keep you highly motivated during work also!

Step 3. Take Things Slowly and Set Reminders Around You to Keep Your Motivation Levels High

Two important things to remember when you are trying to stay motivated is to avoid overwhelm and to keep yourself reminded about why you should be motivated in the first place.

When it comes to work, many people make their jobs much larger and worse than they actually are. You can avoid falling into this cycle of avoidance and despair by reminding yourself that every day is a new day. You can change your schedule around to add in new and exciting things, and focus on your life outside of work.

While work is an important part of your life, it doesn’t have to be draining or boring.

The second point above can be achieved by setting small reminders throughout your workplace. If you are someone who is already satisfied with the work that they do and the value that they provide, you can make small notes around your workspace that remind you of the services that you offer and how they help others.

If you are someone who is not necessarily happy with the position that you currently hold, you can instead use tools such as goal sheets, calendars, and vision boards to help you keep track of your progress as you move toward your ideal position.

However, make sure to not fall into the trap of resenting your job or acting out. This will only make getting motivated at your job harder!

The Bottom Line

Motivation is always possible to find in any situation. All it takes a little effort, some gratitude, and the ability to see why your job adds value to your life and to the lives of others.

If you have been having difficulty finding what motivates you at work, use the step-by-step guide above to figure out why you are in your job, where you want to go afterward, and how you can leverage this information to your advantage. What you get out of your situation is ultimately up to how you choose to perceive it!

Your work values and motivation are important for chosing a profession and for your performance in a position. Determining the values that are important to you in your work and keeping them in the back of your mind, will make it easier to decide if a job is a good fit for you. They can also help you make adjustments to make you happy in your position.

Work value test in an assessment

In an assessment these work values often are a topic of discussion. What is your motivation and what do you consider to be important in your work? This can help determine whether you are the right person for a position, or it can help you and your managers work towards positive changes that ensure that you enjoy your work more.

Values

When people think about work values, they often focus on issues like creativity and integrity. Is creativity in your work important to you, or do you prefer a transparent and well-structured organisation? Do you want to mean something to people or is having influence more important to you? Usually a work values test presents you with a number of statements to determine what your work values and motivation are.

Test yourself!

A work values test can be a very useful exercise to determine your own work values. Awareness of what you really find important will give you an understanding of the direction your career should take and the kind of environment you would feel comfortable in. A short work values test will give you that understanding.

It is interesting to contemplate your competences and skills before heading towards an assessment. That way you are prepared and you know where your strengths are. Read more about competences and skills.

Tests

  • All tests (36)
  • IQ tests (18)
  • Free IQ test
  • Classical intelligence test
  • Culture fair IQ test
  • Assessment training (10)
  • Numerical reasoning practice
  • Logical reasoning practice
  • Verbal reasoning practice
  • Career test
  • Competency test
  • Personality test
  • Work values test
  • Team roles test
  • Jung personality test
  • DISC personality test

123test is an independent European company and your privacy is guaranteed. These tests are right on target!