Understanding motivation to drive success

Understanding what motivates us can be the key to unlocking performance, productivity and fulfilment. It can ultimately determine our success. Some people have a pretty good understanding of what motivates them. Others may have an inkling or not really understand at all.

But understanding our motivational drivers is only the first part. It’s even more important to understand how well these drivers are being satisfied, and if not to make some adjustments to enable this.

Motivational Maps

I use a tool called Motivational Maps, which reveals both of these. I frequently use it with my clients as part of their coaching journey as well as, on an ad hoc basis with individuals and teams. It can be extremely insightful and very useful for helping to course correct. I’ve seen some spectacular results!

In my own experience, discovering what motivated me wasn’t a complete surprise. However, it certainly explained what I’d been feeling and validated that I was on the right path in terms of the changes I was making in my career. It also gave me a useful framework and terminology to talk to others about the changes I was going through. More about this below.

Motivation

What motivates me?

In reality there is no single thing that motivates any of us – often there are a combination of different elements at any point in time. While we’re all unique, there are similar themes that motivate us.

According to Motivational Maps theory, we all have are 9 motivational drivers to a greater or lesser extent.

  • Meaning and making a difference
  • Freedom & Independence
  • Innovation & change
  • Expertise and mastery
  • Money & material satisfaction
  • Power & Influence
  • Recognition & respect
  • Belonging & respect
  • Security & predictability

I’ll bet that some of these resonate you as you probably have an idea what makes you tick.

What motivates up is likely to evolve over time for many of us.

Often at the start of our careers, we’re more motivated by money and recognition. As we advance we might become more motivated by being known for our expertise or making a valuable contribution to our customers or wider society.

In addition to evolving over time, our motivational drivers can also evolve in a shorter time period if we undergo significant changes.

What may have motivated you just a few months ago, could have changed significantly under the current circumstances.

How satisfied am I?

Knowing what motivates us is only part of the puzzle. We also need to understand how satisfied we are in our key drivers.

  • If we’re motivated by making a difference but don’t see the value in what we do or don’t believe in the integrity of our organisation, then there could be misalignment.
  • Supposing we’re motivated by independence & freedom yet we’re part of a large bureaucratic organisation and our boss micromanages us, this could result in frustration.
  • If we’re motivated by money, but don’t feel that we’re being fairly compensated or know that others are paid more than us, this could result in us feeling disengaged.

Often we’re not able to pinpoint the problem, we just feel unmotivated, disengaged or drained.

However, by having a clear view of where the disconnects are (i.e. which of our drivers are not being satisfied) we can learn how to address them.

Often small changes are necessary to unblock us, resulting in a significant change in our overall satisfaction and motivation. This can have a profound impact on how we feel, and how we perform.

My story

My story

I first discovered Motivational Maps towards the beginning of last year. It was around the time that I’d given notice to leave my corporate role.

For me, discovering my motivational drivers wasn’t a complete surprise – meaning & making a difference and freedom & independence.

However, it certainly explained what I’d been feeling and validated that I was on the right path in terms of the changes I was making to my career.

It also gave me a useful framework and terminology to talk to others about the changes I was going through.

To put this into context, I was moving on from a corporate career to running my own coaching business – i.e. helping others, on my terms. This is completely in line with my drivers.

It had been important for me to feel a sense of belonging and connection (I had been used to being part of a large organisation and was establishing myself in the business community). Money was my lowest driver (I was being paid very well, thank you very much).

I retook the test again at the beginning of this year. My top two drivers are just as important to me, but are now (unsurprisingly) being more highly satisfied.

What is interesting though is the changes to some of my lower drivers. Innovation & change (Creativity) is now my third biggest driver. This is probably because I feel empowered to make decisions and changes about my business that I wasn’t previously exposed to. Money has also increased in importance as I’ve become more commercial in the way I think, and have needed to to run a viable business.

I’ve reviewed my levels of satisfaction across the different drivers and I’m making tweaks to ensure I give myself the best chance of success in the short and longer-term.

Wrap-up

Understanding what motivates us can be the key to unlocking our performance, productivity and our fulfilment. It can ultimately determine our success.

But understanding our motivational drivers is only the first part. It’s even more important to understand how well these drivers are being satisfied, and if not to make some adjustments to enable this.

If you’d like to know more about your key motivational drivers and how best to satisfy them, get in touch to learn how I can help you and your teams.