What Really Drives Motivated Employees

We’re going to take a look at the work of Lawrence and Noria in early 2000’s and adapt some of their ideas so we are all singing off the same song-sheet.

The first driver they spoke about was the need to achieve, and have the feeling that we have achieved something and gained something that makes our lives meaningful.

Maslow said we need to deal with physiological needs, but there’s more to it than just amassing material things. A universal law says we either grow or die. This need to achieve a goal, objective, target is inherent in most of us, and this desire to achieve is a key motivator for many people.

Just ask why some people want more money, for example, and many times it epitomises their need to have to achieve something in life, whether it’s security, comfort, a high standard of living, or something more altruistic. This then, is the first driver, the need to achieve.

The second need is the social need, the need to be able to bond with others, a team player. A lot of people will be driven and motivated simply to be accepted into a social setting; they’ll want close friends or teammates, and they’ll want to get on with others. Few people will be motivated to want to work on their own for long periods of time.

A third area is the need to be challenged. Why would someone be motivated to step out of their comfort zone? Well it’s again this desire to grow, to be significant, to see that what we’re doing is significant in the workplace. Without challenge, people’s skills atrophy and die away, so this desire to be challenged outside our comfort zone is a driver for many people.

Lots of motivation theorists say that it is impossible to motivate another, unless they personally want to be motivated. So part of our responsibility as managers is to help people to be self motivated or to drive themselves, and our job is to create the environment for them to do this.

Without this environment, allowing people to drive themselves forward, not matter what extrinsic motivational efforts you put in, it may well fall flat, as they will hit a plateau and not be driven higher. So we need to identify things that will open up opportunities for staff to drive themselves forward.

Thanks again


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   

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Updated on: 3 December, 2010

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