May 26, 2011

Motivation Pure and True

Motivation is intrinsic not extrinsic – traditional motivational approaches don’t work in Agile environments.  I can’t overemphasis the importance of the right motivators – see Daniel Pink’s book Drive in where he identifies the three factors that lead to better performance and personal satisfaction:

  • Autonomy
  • Mastery
  • Purpose

This relates to the way effective Agile teams work to these motivational factors –

  • self organising teams exhibit and promote autonomy
  • the focus on doing quality work promotes mastery
  • having a clearly defined project vision that links to higher goals provides purpose

Agile managers need to create project and team environments where these motivational factors can come to the fore and enable team performance.

In a recent survey we invited more than 600 managers from dozens of companies to rank the impact on employee motivation and emotions of five workplace factors commonly considered significant: recognition, incentives, interpersonal support, support for making progress, and clear goals. Recognition for good work (either public or private) came out number one. Unfortunately, those managers are wrong.

The reality is the single most motivating factor based on a multiyear study tracking the day-to-day activities, emotions, and motivation levels of hundreds of knowledge workers in a wide variety of settings is PROGRESS.

On days when workers have the sense they’re making headway in their jobs, or when they receive support that helps them overcome obstacles, their emotions are most positive and their drive to succeed is at its peak. On days when they feel they are spinning their wheels or encountering roadblocks to meaningful accomplishment, their moods and motivation are lowest.

Make sure you have practices in place to nurture these motivators!