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Wednesday, March 13, 2024

The 3 Things That Keep People Feeling Motivated At Work

As part of TED’s ‘How to be a Better Human’ series, two researchers, Richard Ryan and Edward Deci, developed an idea called ‘self-determination theory’. Self-determination theory essentially argued that people are motivated when they can determine for themselves what to work on and how to work on it.

Below, I’ll outline the three main drivers of motivation according to self-determination theory — autonomy, competence, and relatedness — and I’ll provide practical ways to leverage the power of each.

1) Autonomy

This refers to how much people feel they can influence the work they do or control the output and outcome. It outlines how much say a person has in the way they do something.

The opposite, of course, is being micro-managed. If micro-management is about being told what to do and how to do it, autonomy is getting the person involved in deciding how it’s going to be done and showing creative initiative to get there.

·        Analyze how many times you ‘tell’ people what to do, versus how many times you ‘involve’ them in decision-making.

·        Mutually assign tasks and objectives for people, identifying and agreeing deadlines

·        Give them more freedom on how the task is completed, within certain guidelines.

·        Communicate the progress people are making to achieve the goals they are set.

2) Competence

We’ve always stated that a vital aspect of people’s drive is to learn, grow and develop. Becoming ‘better at stuff’ is one of the keys to motivation, so assist and support in helping team members to develop their skills.

·        Limit the amount of constructive criticism you offer. The research showed there were links between poor feedback mechanisms and poor motivation.

·        Share successes with people so they can see how much they’ve grown by taking more responsibility.

·        Give positive feedback when you can, specifying exactly what you are happy with so it can be repeated.

·        Look for opportunities to get your people learning and developing on the job, not just on training courses.

3) Relatedness

The research showed that, when people feel a connection between what they do and the bigger picture they are serving, there is an increase in motivation.

·        Ensure team members have opportunities to connect with others, even on a virtual basis.

·        Show people how the role they play interacts and contributes to others’ work, hence reducing the impacts of silos within the business.

·        Create a connection between their role and the mission of the organization.

·        Allow people to interact with each other more, so the feeling of belonging is enhanced.

Relatedness refers to the sense of feeling worthwhile and being able to contribute to the overall goals of each other as well as the company. You can naturally see how and why this would be a key driver of motivation.

When people have the ability to determine how they work, the means to judge their progress and the feeling that their work helps other people, they can’t help but be motivated to get to work.

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