Understanding motivators

Chinese lanterns. Change is the only constant

Motivation behind those involved in the charity sector are potentially more complex than those driving people working in commercial sectors, and we should always bear in mind that this has implications for the way in which people should be recruited, managed, cared for and developed.

By this I don’t just mean the “job motivators”, that you might talk about in an interview but the real, underlying, core and sometimes very personal reasons that we do the things we do.

There is a huge difference if we think about motivators in these two ways. Let’s take a look. Let’s start with what you might say in a job interview or a promotion interview, when the interviewer asks “What motivates you to want to work here?”. The likely response from most candidates will be something fairly stock … like these perhaps:

  • I enjoy meeting deadlines, targets or goals like these
  • I want to mentor and coach others
  • I love learning new things
  • I get a buzz from coming up with creative ideas to improve something, or make something new
  • analysing complex data in order to draw clear and simple conclusions is very satisfying to me
  • working well as part of a team like yours is very appealing
  • I enjoy leading a team to success
  • It’s always gratifying completing a difficult project, and seeing it through to the end
  • I enjoy spotting flaws and errors so as to make sure the end result of a project is as good as possible
  • I’m motivated by finding ways to solve problems, or overcome challenges

With thanks to www.targetjobs.co.uk.

All very good answers and all very valid in the right context, however they don’t get to the root of what really drives someone, consciously or unconsciously. It is these real motivators that make us who and what we are, and make us stick at something. Amongst this list I’d include …

  • money
  • status
  • altruism
  • positioning
  • peers
  • causes
  • beliefs
  • relationships
  • family
  • self-development
  • experimentation

All of these things – and probably many more that I haven’t thought of as I sit writing this – are also perfectly valid. They are also all perfectly acceptable (even the money one, and even when working for a charity!) and I believe that for most people, there is a basket of personal motivators selected from this list in varying proportions – perhaps even defining our personalities.

Further reading on this you could do a lot worse than thinking about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, for example at www.simplypsychology.org.

So if you are looking for a competent employee, then the job motivators are important. If you are looking to nurture, retain, get the best from, and enjoy working with a team of genuinely committed people, then understanding the underlying drivers are even moreĀ important.

A truly skilled interviewer will be able to get to these, assisted perhaps by the various personality analysis tools out there, and by reading personal statements with the question “what is motivating this person” in mind.

Food for thought!

DCH