Motivation and output

Motivation and output

Motivation to drive useful and creative output has been a focus for me at the start of this year.  The new year is always a time for setting goals and refocusing on the important tasks to be achieved.  But goal setting is useless unless there is a plan for achieving the goals.  The plan must be realistic and this involves reviewing past successes and failures and understanding what drove you to success and what hindered you when you failed.  For many people, myself included, a key element is ensuring that you are really motivated to achieve your goals; the motivation needs to be more than just words and should be tightly tied into your emotional needs (what makes you tick).

“Making lots of money” or “being successful” are too woolly as motivators.  Spell out what you are going to do with the money or how exactly will you be successful e.g. ensure my family’s financial security, buy a Ferrari, go on holiday of a lifetime, prove to everyone (and myself) that I can do it, be ranked the best in my department.

At the January meeting of the Mayfield Business Forum that I help organise, we discussed plans for 2013, how to set them, how to make sure they are realistic and how to keep on track in achieving them.  One of the very good ideas that came out of the meeting was that of putting your goals somewhere you could see them on a regular basis and so be reminded of what you were working for.  Ian Parker,  for example, had his goals on his mobile phone which provided a constant reminder.

Since the meeting I have created a screen saver on my PC consisting of two screens, one with two key goals and one with two key behaviours that I need to improve.  This has proved very useful since the screen saver is there when I have been away from my desk for a while. or when I have been interrupted by a conversation, and focuses me back on the essentials.   However, the effect is starting to wear off because it is always the same words and the same background that appear and the mind tends to switch off when seeing something so familiar.  I know I will have to refresh the words and image, the “story” I am sending to my brain.

All this made me very interested yesterday to read McKinsey‘s article on “Increasing the ‘meaning quotient’ of work”.  It highlights how people can be highly productive when at work but this usually only happens rarely.  It depends on the right environment in terms of

  • knowing what to do and having the skills to do it  – the IQ element
  • being supported to do it and having the soft skills (communication, empathy etc) – the EQ element
  • but also the concept of MQ, the Meaning Quotient, which is how to ensure that you, or your  staff and colleagues, feel that the task is worth doing

You need to read the whole article for all the insights this gives and I would encourage you to do so.  But one key thing the article highlights is the story that you tell (yourself and others) about the tasks in hand that make them meaningful and motivate you.

Different reasons will motivate ourselves and other people, and these may change over time and need to be refreshed.  But creating a rich story that we believe in is a key element of motivation, of working productively and so of reaching our goals.

Enhanced by Zemanta