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Recognize individual motivation

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One size fits all solutions do not work when it comes to motivating employees. The mammoth task of adapting individually to each person is possible without a long and intensive phase of getting to know each other. We present an approach that helps to understand each other, to recognize motivation and potential and to promote an appreciation of diversity.

What makes us work motivated? Is it the salary, is it the colleagues or the possibility to act creatively and in self-responsibility?


This is a question everyone has probably asked themselves at some time or another; after all, according to the latest Gallup study, only around 15% of employees in Germany have a high emotional attachment to their job.

If you ask these questions to ten different people, you get ten different answers. It would be so easy if, after extensive market research, you could get a general recipe for what motivates us all to work. The only constant that can be determined, however, if you continuously ask this question to people, is that everyone says something different and that some of them don’t even have the slightest idea of what to reply.

So what makes us work motivated?

The universal answer is as trivial as it is disenchanting: THIS IS DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE!

We are not artificial intelligences that do their job without emotion, nor do we allow ourselves to be pigeonholed, typologized and motivated from the outside, contrary to our own feelings. That it is not only beautiful, but also economically relevant, when everyone is emotionally connected to the company is also proven by various Gallup studies. According to these studies, motivated employees are around 21% more productive than unmotivated ones, and the economic damage of ‘internal redundancy’ will amount to a whopping 77-103 billion euros in 2018. But how do you want to adjust to these different sensitivities, especially as an employer? If there is no general recipe, is it possible to deal with them without being completely overwhelmed?

A nice quote from a young CEO of a growing company: “I can’t just go to a spa hotel on the Baltic Sea and talk about the innermost motivations for a whole weekend with every person who wants to work for or with us.” He’s absolutely right, it’s not possible to be absolutely sure, and besides, it wouldn’t even be said that the person will open up in the spa hotel and be able to talk about their personalities in such a way that it is understandable for everyone. Even in a job interview or in an early phase of cooperation, one cannot easily expect this open self-reflection.

What is needed is a system that analyses each person individually without judging, a system that gives lasting insights into the different personalities, a system that is simple enough for everyone to understand and complex enough to avoid pigeonholing people.

The 7 value systems according to Spiral Dynamics

The American psychology professor Clare W. Graves has researched the individual motivation of people and developed a theory that is both easy to understand and to apply: Spiral Dynamics. He has also recognised that there is an indisputable connection between individual motivation and actual work performance. From today’s point of view, one would probably respond to this statement with a casual “Of course!” So our intuitive gut feeling confirms that it is true – but do we also know what really motivates ourselves, our colleagues, our employees?

In his recognized theory, Dr. Clare W. Graves distinguishes in its core seven intuitively recognizable value systems that determine how people think and act and has assigned a color to each of these value systems:

  • Turquoise seeks acceptance and peace in holistic thinking and larger contexts of meaning.
  • Yellow wants to understand and analyze how things work and develop new, creative ideas.
  • Green seeks social connections and harmony.
  • Orange wants to prove itself and is an ambitious challenger.
  • Blue likes it regulated and seeks security in a system of structures and order.
  • Red strives for authority and shows determination and speed.
  • Purple seeks security and safety in habits and traditions.
  • This highly simplified presentation of his findings is thus based on seven value systems, which are present in all of us in different weightings.

The mere knowledge about this theory would structure and shorten the above mentioned conversation in the spa hotel very well. Therewith, we have a basis for the conversation, and due to this structure we have become linguistically competent in relation to our personal motives. But by the mere understanding, one gets only conditionally further. The self-reflection is unbelievably difficult for most of the people, whether one gets a structure or not. We have all been in situations where we have been asked to talk about our emotions – this is not easy for everyone.

Profile Dynamics® is a technology partner of LIFT for future GmbH and has developed an online analysis tool based on this theory, which on the one hand can display the individual motifs in each one, but on the other hand also explains what resistance you have against which “colours”. The latter is particularly valuable for understanding not only what motivates a person, but also what environment can draw energy from a person. So we understand what motivates each individual AND what demotivates them. These results can be displayed graphically and also put together. Not to manipulate, but to understand each other, to appreciate each other and to recognize potentials.

LIFT for future GmbH uses this method of analysis at three elementary interfaces of the Employee Experience – and always where individual personalities and motivation are particularly decisive, for the individual and for mutual success:

  1. To help people who are either looking for a job or have just finished their training and want to find out what really suits them. Because here it is particularly important to run in the right direction immediately in order not to get stuck in a rut. If you recognise what motivates you in the long term, you can grow with a team and company from the very beginning.

  2. As a plugin for the recruiting process of companies to support both applicants and recruiters in the selection process. By focusing on individual motives and not exclusively on skills, HR is able to find out even before the first interview whether the applicant’s personality matches the team, role and cultural requirements of the existing team or company.

  3. For improved team performance – because a team is not only made up of people with complementary skills, but also of different personalities who are willing to give their best for individual motives. The personality of the team members is the focus of attention, because this is how you create the basis for the development of potential, innovative strength and sustainable self-organisation.

In order to adequately interpret the insights into the motives of team members or applicants, LIFT also uses digital workshop formats, individual podcasts and webinars at eye level. Those who adapt individually to employees and find a common language will inevitably be rewarded with trust and appreciation. And don’t we all want to work in an environment where we don’t have to pretend to be different, but are understood and accepted by colleagues?


Photo by Alex Radelich, Quelle: Unsplash, Download Link here  

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