Evaluating intrinsic motivation

The internet is full of little lists about what motivates us, which are usually a mix of intrinsic an extrinsic motivation. But how can you find out which intrinsic motivational element is important for your team members? And do these motivators stay the same throughout someone's career, or under the influence of a major change in your company?

One of the tools we often use to get to that understanding is the technique Moving Motivators from the Management 3.0 toolkit. It starts from the 10 intrinsic work related motivators:

  • Acceptance
  • Curiosity
  • Freedom
  • Goal
  • Honor
  • Mastery
  • Order
  • Power
  • Relatedness
  • Status

If addressed correctly you can use a variation on the moving motivators exercice to move your team along great strides in work happiness, and take them to the next level.

In a team I used to work with, we experienced a major shift: one of the team members who had been hired quite recently was elevated to the position of team leader. The emotional impact on the rest of the team was felt, but the newly appointed team leader was unable to identify exactly what had changed, or how far reaching the impact of this management decision would be.

In order to help the team leader deal with the change and because simple conversation with the impacted team members did not cover the load, I guided the team leader through the use of the moving motivators exercice to get a better understanding of each team member and their feelings about this change.

For the exercice we used individual sessions. We asked each team member the following questions, using the cards to guide them through:

  1. Please order the cards left to right from the least important to the most important motivator and explain the extremities

  1. Which motivational elements have recently shifted in light of this change?
    1. how did they shift (move the cards up for more important, down for less important)?
    2. why did they shift this way?

images: é

This allowed for a more guided conversation into the impact of the change, and indicators on how the team leader could take further actions to limit the impact of this unexpected change. It finally made clear which team members needed to be guided through the emotion of not having been picked at team leader, which team members needed guidance on feeling more secure, and which team members would be able to handle the change and help their own team members cope.

In the highly emotional environment of this particular team, where most team members already had a certain seniority and domain knowledge, this exercice turned out to be crucial to keep team bonds together and remain motivated enough to work through this.