Motivated people are more engaged people. More involved people.
And when they are intrinsically motivated, meaning they are driven by internal and personal factors like shared values, people become committed to the team and its mission, not merely compliant through external rewards.
Motivation that is intentionally cultivated and nurtured can unlock the power of ownership, responsibility, growth, and increased leader capacity across your team or organization. So, in this third and final part of the motivation series, let’s explore two simple, but impactful tools that leaders can use to both assess the status of motivation of their people, and to map out where and how to improve it. I’m excited about this episode as we dive into some tactical resources that you can start putting to use today with nothing more than a simple scratch piece of paper. So, here we go!
Welcome to the 3x5 Leadership Podcast where we champion intentional leaders who create significant impacts. In this show, we share simple, practical strategies to help you live, lead, and learn more intentionally. I’m Josh and thanks for joining us today!
Over these last two episodes, we’ve been looking at motivation. Particularly, we’ve addressed the power of intrinsic motivation, which is when people are driven by personal, internal factors rather than external rewards. We’ve also uncovered how autonomy is a great way to tap into that motivation, and ways that leaders can create space for more autonomy within their teams.
But I’m left with a question of what do I do about motivation now? I recognize it is important and I will begin to create opportunities for increased autonomy in my team. But how do I know motivation is good? Or healthy? The right level, or mixture, or flavor for my team? Let’s address those in today’s episode. We are going to investigate two important tools that we can use to assess and also generate motivation in purposeful, sustainable ways. So, let’s dive into the first tool, which is commonly called the Two-Factor Theory.
This tool breaks motivation into two factors – motivation and hygiene – and you basically use these to create two lists. List number one, the motivation factor, identifies all the things that create satisfaction at work and within someone’s job. Common examples of motivation factors include things like meaningful work, responsibility and autonomy, recognition, appreciation, opportunities for growth, desirable compensation, appropriate work flexibility, and even being part of a high-performing team.
The other factor, however – hygiene – are the things that create work dissatisfaction. These can be poor pay, bad work conditions or environment, poor supervisors and managers, overly bureaucratic systems that stymie organizational improvement, frustrating interpersonal relationships with colleagues, and so on.
Now, before we get into how to apply this framework, we should understand that these two factors are NOT mutually exclusive. Just because one increases or decreases based on adjustments you make, that does NOT mean it automatically leads to the opposite effect on the other. Improving hygiene factors like a poor work environment DOES help reduce dissatisfaction in others, but that does not mean it improves satisfaction. These factors remain independent of one another and thus, leaders need to attend to both.
So, that’s all this tool is. It’s two columns, one listing motivation factors that create satisfaction, and one listing hygiene factors that create dissatisfaction. But how can we apply this simple, two columned list approach? I think there are some easy steps that we can follow to build our proficiency in using it successfully. First, create the two columns, like physically draw them out on paper. Then, look at your own job and work environment and jot down all the sources of work satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Spend some time, even several iterations, thinking broadly of all the factors that contribute to your feelings of work and categorize them into the two lists. What brings you satisfaction and motivation at work? List it all out. Spend some time and try to identify as many things as you can. It doesn’t matter how big or small of an issue it is. Then, do the same for the things that bring you dissatisfaction, that frustrate you, and leave you questioning your work. Put them all on the list.
Now, after you get it all out there, look back on your lists. What about them jumps out at you? Do you notice trends within each list? Say, maybe that many of your dissatisfaction factors tend to focus on a poor boss or manager, maybe poor colleagues, or unproductive processes that constrict your daily work. What about the satisfaction factors? Think back to earlier episodes about intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. What do the satisfaction factors point towards? Is it things like pay, perks at work, and time off that brings you the most satisfaction? Or might it be things like the meaningfulness of your work and how you align to the organization’s mission? What does this all say about you, your organization, and work environment?
This first step aims at getting us practice in applying the model on an easy subject, ourselves, because we know our work situation the best and are likely willing to be more honest in our assessment.
But this practice rep, or multiple reps if you’re willing to try a few iterations of it, are to prepare us to then take the same approach, but in looking at other individuals’ work experience. So, I recommend you practice this on individuals that you are close to at work – maybe colleagues, a direct report, maybe even your boss.
This all builds to give you practice in being thoughtful and honest in how to assess a person’s work experience in relation to what drives satisfaction or dissatisfaction, and ultimately impacting motivation. Through this practice, you can then begin to do this for your direct reports, thinking about their work from their perspective. You can also begin to apply this at a more collective level, looking at your team’s shared motivation. This all helps you be more honest and self-aware about your leadership and the reality of your team’s work environment.
And with this developed awareness, you’re able to begin using it to direct what things about motivation you need to adjust! What do the satisfaction factors point towards? What kinds of things are building motivation? Does it focus on extrinsic or intrinsic motivation? What does this create in terms of ownership, buy-in, commitment, productivity, development, and capacity in your team? What should it be? Is it the right mix? Is it enough of a certain flavor or too much? And what should you do to address the dissatisfaction you identify?
This approach can do a lot to inform you on how your people experience you as a leader and their work on a routine basis. And through that, you can use the framework to identify gaps, which you can use to direct needed change in your team’s culture, processes, and interpersonal relationships.
Now, one final note about this model before we transition to the second one, and that is about some important factors to consider, both relating to satisfaction and dissatisfaction. One’s that I’ve experienced, that I believe many others have, yet remain unaddressed so often in our organizations.
Relating to motivating factors, I want to implore you to never underestimate the power of your example as a leader. A leader who is caring, transparent, authentic, and brings energy to who the team is, what we do, and why we do it can definitely become an influencing motivating factor. Additionally, communicating perspective – communicating the why of what we are doing can be impactful too. There are also other factors that may seem simple or insignificant, but can have huge impacts. Things like leaders clarifying priorities, bringing predictability to the team’s work, simplifying tasks, and so on. Even how effectively and efficiently your team manages a weekly battle rhythm of meetings and events can be a motivating factor that builds satisfaction.
There are also some hygiene factors that are worth addressing too. I mentioned bureaucratic organizational processes earlier, which is absolutely an important one. Do cumbersome policies and “rules” make it near to impossible for people to accomplish routine tasks at work? Are there certain digital systems, routing procedures, or decision-making processes that are commonly the topic of most work venting conversations at lunch?
Also, take great caution when you hear the phrase, “this is how we have always done it here.” It is a major signal for an potential hygiene factor that certainly needs to be addressed.
And lastly, don’t ignore the impact that poor leadership and management can have on dissatisfaction too. A mentor of mine once mentioned that we cannot be leaders with caveats, those things that lead others to say, “yeah, he or she is great, except for…” The reality is that we all have caveats. We might just not know it. And so, our enduring journey for improved self-awareness, self-regulation, and leadership impact not only helps us make a more effective team, but generate motivation by removing those factors that lead others to say, “yeah, but…”
Ensure we pay attention to these factors that often live below-the-waterline and outside of leaders’ awareness that can become major problems for people if left unattended.
Ok, so that was the two-factor theory, breaking motivation into two factors that leaders need to attend to – motivation and hygiene. Satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Let’s now look at a second tool that dives a little deeper into what influences motivation. This model, called the Job Characteristics Model, looks at five distinct characteristics of peoples’ jobs that create conditions for people to become internally motivated to perform their jobs effectively, and to become more engaged in their work and within the team.
And we can really use this tool in the same way as we do the Two-Factor Theory, by using the characteristics to map out existing sources of motivation, assess that reality and potential gaps, and ultimately use it to direct change within the team to improve conditions for motivation. But, with this Job Characteristics Model, it takes a different lens of five core characteristics of our jobs. And for me, this is helpful because it gives me a better structure on how to look at one’s job and their experience at work than the Two-Factor Theory. Both are great tools. It may just depend on your preferred approach and style.
For these five job characteristics, they are the things that shape how we experience our jobs, and are the things that leaders can manipulate to improve work conditions and motivation. So, let’s go through the five job characteristics.
These first three characteristics work in harmony to create a sense of meaningfulness in our work. The first characteristic is skill variety, which is the degree to which a job requires a variety of different activities and skills to accomplish one’s job. It doesn’t necessarily routine variety, but the flavor of tasks do evolve over time or throughout seasons. The second characteristic is task identity. This looks at how much of the job requires completion of a whole, identifiable piece of work where someone can accomplish a job from beginning to end and be able to see the visible outcomes. This is the characteristic that directly feeds into a person’s ownership, giving them the pride to say that I am responsible for this thing. It is mine. And it matters.
The third characteristic is task significance – the amount of substantial impact the person’s job has on the lives of other people, both internal and external to the organization. Does their work matter? Are they able to see it? Do leaders communicate that? This is probably the most critical characteristic of these first three in my opinion because I think a lot of people are willing to maintain challenging jobs if they know and care how important it is.
The fourth characteristic is autonomy, which we talked about last episode. It’s how much freedom, independence, and discretion people have in their work. Remember the four types of autonomy, which we explored in that last episode too: task, team, time, and technique.
And finally, the fifth characteristic is feedback. The amount of direct and clear information people receive about their effectiveness and level of performance can not only contribute to job satisfaction, but increases ownership, and commitment to continued growth.
These characteristics work together to create some pretty significant outcomes for your people and the team. Most notably, they lead to high intrinsic motivation, individual and collective growth, job satisfaction, and increased work effectiveness. And leaders can use this framework to assess the state of the five job characteristics for people and determine areas for growth or development of them. Use it to look deeply into how your people experience their job and how you can continue to develop them.
For example, I currently have a work colleague who was placed in charge of a new program for our organization. It is a great opportunity for him to build something out of scratch that is going to produce a whole new set of leader training and leader certification opportunities for our organization. It will be a project where he can do great work and build a strong reputation. However, two months into the project, he began to appear very uninterested in the work, easily getting frustrated, and complaining about it a lot. In trying to talk to him about the project and how he is doing, through some questioning, I came to realize that he was getting little feedback on the project and no encouragement. He had all the other job characteristics well established – skill variety, task identity, task significance, and even project autonomy. But the lack of feedback, especially positive feedback in the form of recognition and appreciation, he was losing motivation and losing job satisfaction. As leaders, we need to remain cognizant of all five characteristics and attend to them. We cannot ignore any of them; they are all important. Because as I saw through my colleague, even the absence of one job characteristic can have detrimental effects on peoples’ work.
So, we’ve talked through a few steps on how to use these two tools. Get practice through repetition in diagnosing peoples’ jobs and how they experience work to improve your proficiency in them and to become more intentional in your awareness of peoples’ realities as they work.
But to close out today’s episode, I challenge you to consider using either or both of these tools in two other ways. First, consider using them as frameworks to collect feedback from your direct reports during events like weekly one-on-one meetings. Generate questions based off the two motivating-hygiene factors or the five job characteristics to get a better understanding of THEIR perspective. These can be simple questions like “If you had to pick the one thing about your daily work that frustrates you the most, what would it be and why that thing?” Or, “On a scale of 1-5, how important would you say your job is to the success of this organization and why that rating? What can I do to help that number go up by even just one rating?”
Rather than trying to grasp thin air for feedback or to try and assess peoples’ motivation and job satisfaction simply based on hunches, you can use these tools to make your understanding more structured, thoughtful, and actionable.
Finally, consider using these tools at your next team offsite. Introduce them to one of the tools and have them conduct small group brainstorm sessions to assess the state of motivation. Allow THEM to tell YOU how they assess job satisfaction and motivation with supporting evidence. Not only are you getting real, bottom-up feedback, you’re allowing others to participate in improving work conditions through this exercise.
But remember, if you look to use these tools at a team offsite or something and you have them tell you the state of motivation, you’re really only allowed to say one thing in response, or some version of this response. It’s, “Thank you. I hear you. I appreciate your feedback and I look forward to taking action to address this.” There’s no justifying or arguing what they present. You must only be in receive mode.
With a better understanding of motivation, particularly intrinsic motivation and autonomy, and now equipped with a few simple tools to take action with, I’m excited for you to thoughtfully create conditions for an improved workplace. A place where people can be productive, enjoy their jobs, how they work, the team they work with, and the environment they do too. While I wouldn’t say these three episodes diving into motivation are EVERYTHING you need to know on how to tap into the power of motivation as a leader, I do believe the ideas from this short series will start you on a solid path toward more intentional leadership.
So, thanks for joining us today and over these last three episodes. Thanks for your continued support and leadership. Everyone is entitled to caring, intentional leadership and YOU provide that leadership. Thanks for letting us continue to join you on your continued journey of learning and leader development.
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That’s it for this week, friends. I’m Josh and, again, thanks for joining us. Until next time, take care and lead well.