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October 30, 2015

What Gives You Your "Get Up and Go?"

Jo Jones

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"Motivation is when your dreams put on work clothes."  ~ Benjamin Franklin.

Motivation is the feeling that makes you want to act now or, as Benjamin Franklin put it, "put on work clothes" and get busy. It’s the excitement about a future plan or a success, and the drive that turns an idea into reality.

I like to think of skill as the "knowing" and motivation as the "doing." You can have all of the knowledge and expertise in the world but, without the motivation, you’ve no way of putting it into action.

Being motivated at work makes me perform at my best. If I feel positive about what I’m doing and I believe it to be truly worthwhile, I find it more satisfying, more enjoyable, and a lot easier.

People are motivated in different ways because they’re satisfied by different things. I find job satisfaction when I’m being creative and collaborative, and I feel like I’m making a real contribution to a project. Therefore, what motivates me is being given tasks that I can put my own creative stamp on, where I can work closely with others, and that I can really get my teeth into.

Let’s take this very blog post as an example. I’m writing from my own point of view so I can be creative in how I express my thoughts on the topic. I’m working alongside everyone here on the Mind Tools editorial team to produce it, so I'm collaborating with my co-workers. My task is to engage you, our reader, and to inspire you to think about the ways that you’re motivated at work. To do this, I can work energetically and productively in a hands-on way.

This project gets the "thumbs up" from me in the way that I'm motivated to complete it.  (And it’s always helpful to feel motivated when you’re writing about motivation!)

There are two types of motivation. There’s extrinsic, where you’re driven to perform well by external factors like a pay raise, a bonus, or the threat of losing your job. There’s also intrinsic, where you’ve a personal desire to do your best and succeed.

I’m motivated by a mixture of extrinsic and intrinsic factors. I’m passionate about what I do and I want to do it well, so I’m intrinsically motivated to give my very best to each project. I also want to provide a stable home for my family, so I’m extrinsically motivated to work hard and earn my salary.

Everyone’s likely to have different motivators and so it's useful to be managed in a way that recognizes yours.

There are two types of manager in the team motivation concept Theory X and Theory Y. Theory X managers assume that team members don’t want responsibility, they supervise constantly, and they motivate their team extrinsically. Theory Y managers assume their team members want responsibility, they encourage input, and motivate their team intrinsically.

In my career I've been lucky, and have been managed by a series of Theory Y managers. I've been encouraged to take ownership of my projects and make important decisions like when to publish a product or which supplier to use. I've been asked for my opinions and suggestions on matters that affect me, like the workflows I use. When I know that my input is listened to and valued, I feel that what I do is significant. This makes me feel good and motivates me intrinsically to work hard and make my projects a success.

Today’s article is all about the strategies and tools that you can use to motivate your team effectively. It explores how you can tailor your leadership to suit your team members; working styles and how you can keep them feeling enthusiastic about their work.

What motivates you at work? Are your motivations extrinsic, intrinsic, or a mixture of both? Are you motivated by your manager? Is your manager a Theory X or a Theory Y manager? Does this affect how motivated you are? Join in the discussion below!

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