Four Powerful Motivators Achieving Satisfaction and Happiness in Our Work

I recently read that Frederick Herzberg, a pre-eminent 20th century psychologist, identified four powerful motivators for those we lead. He said it is not money that motivates us to achieve satisfaction and happiness in our work. It is instead: opportunity to learn, growth in responsibility, ability to contribute, and being recognized.

Below is how I interpret these four important areas.  My hope is that they will help you increase your team’s motivation.

happiness in our work

Opportunity to Learn

Are your people constantly learning? Most of us as leaders focus on training people at the beginning of their employment and possibly some continual training to make sure they can do their job well.  This is not what is meant here.  I believe people want to keep learning.

Of all the people I have hired and worked with, I distinctly remember that when I tell people we want to train you, support you to improve, help you get better not just as a professional but as a person, it is always met with a positive response.

Once people are more efficient on the job, most leaders really don’t care if they continue to learn. Healthy leaders know that one of the most powerful things you can do for the people you lead is to help them learn, grow, and improve continually. When we do that, we not only get a person who continues to improve themselves at their job, we also get an engaged person who is happy coming alongside us. Why? Because we are helping them get better, not just paying them for their labor. People love to get better.

For me, when I am in a setting where I cannot learn more or become more, I am rarely happy or engaged. Here are some principles to keep in mind when it comes to giving our people opportunities to learn:

  • Offer them experiences that will stretch their current capacity.
  • Offer them mentorship.
  • Offer them coaching.
  • Offer them training.
  • Give them honest feedback.
  • Create a culture of learning.
  • Help people create habits for learning and growth, not just to help you succeed at work, but to help them succeed in life. 
  • Expect learning, and push them to the next step.
  • Share with them how you learn. (That’s one reason why, as leaders, we must always be learning.)

Growth in Responsibility

In previous work environments, when I was not responsible for as much as I thought I could handle, I quickly moved on. Once I master a level of competency in any area, I want to be awarded responsibility for more. We must find ways to give our people greater responsibility as they do well in their current positions. Here are some thoughts about growth in responsibility:

  • My goal is to always give the people I lead responsibilities that stretch them.
  • Don’t give someone a bigger responsibility than they can handle. You will be setting them up for failure.
  • When you issue someone greater responsibility, be there to coach them and support them. 

Ability to Contribute

What do we want to contribute? Personally, I want to contribute positive change when I offer my opinion. I want my ideas to help my team, my company, the community, and our patients. When I welcome people and invite them to contribute their thoughts, I am expressing to them that I value what they have to offer.  I am communicating respect and that I am happy to work with them. Do your people have a say, or is your organization a top down model?  Here are some principles on contributing:

  • Ask people for their opinion.
  • Truly value people’s opinions. You don’t know everything, and some of what you know could be wrong.
  • Ask people to help.
  • Create a culture that rewards generosity and giving, a culture of listening and allowing others to give and flourish.

Being Recognized

All of us like an ‘at a boy! or ‘at a girl!  We all want to be recognized for the hard work we do, for the sacrifices we make. We all want to matter and make a difference. And we want our leaders to notice our contributions to the team or organization. Here are some thoughts on recognition.

  • Simply say thank you. Appreciate people.
  • Find out what people are doing. Know who is working extra hard.
  • Acknowledge people in private, in a sincere way.
  • Recognize them in public when possible.

I know how hard it can be to motivate a team sometimes. I hope these ideas help you become more intentional to invest into the people you are blessed to lead. What an honor it is to lead people. We have a chance to powerfully touch their lives. May we live up to that high calling.

Your Friend,
Wes Saade MD Signature

For Further Reading:

Does Your Work Change the World?
Are You a Gardener?

 

 

 

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