Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Motivation to Work

One of the challenges I face in my business, and I see in almost every business I work with, is that I spent too much time doing things that I am 1) not good at, 2)takes me away from my passion, and 3) sucks me dry of my enthusiasm. This in turn makes me dread my job, which I normally love, on the days I have to do these important but in my opinion counter-productive tasks. I love meeting with people. I love listening to complex problems. I love finding eloquent yet simplistic solutions. I am far less enthusiastic about documenting my findings. I dread the repetitive, mundane task of transactional processing. I love to analyze financial data. I hate to do the underlying accounting.

Hertzberg in his book "Motivation to Work" published in 1959 he explains a lot of this to me. He talks about two sets of somewhat unrelated dynamics that affect the way we look at and perform our jobs. One factor is the things that drive dissatisfaction. These are known as hygiene factors. The other is the things that drive satisfaction. They are considered motivators. Interestingly the removal of something that drives dissatisfaction does not necessarily motivate.

For example: removing a negative administrative task will remove a source of dissatisfaction, but won't necessarily motive a worker to work harder. Meeting a difficult goal or overcoming an obstacle will improve job satisfaction, but not achieving it will not necessarily make the employee dissatisfied with their work.

So back to my original problem: many of us do things that are required but distasteful. Maybe we are an exceptional administrator but hate making sales calls. The opposite is generally more true within entrepreneurs, talking to people about our work is exciting, doing paperwork isn't. If we are not experiencing the passion we once had in our jobs we need to look at two things. First we have to remove that which is contributing to our dissatisfaction. The second is we have to engage more in what motivates us. If I remove the repetitive mundane (to some) task of financial compliance, i.e. accounting, I have removed a source of dissatisfaction. But I am not more motivated. I'm just less unhappy. Now if I take the time allocated to accounting and engage in activities I love, I've completed the circle.

I have removed a dissatisfier and engaged a satisfier. If I only had to spend more time on what I love, my life would be better. But I have to assume that I am already doing as much as I can. So I must first remove a negative hygiene factor to free time. Play to your strengths. Outsource that which takes you away from that which truly drives you. Then apply the new free time to pursue your passion.

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