Management and Motivation Part 3 - Exceptions and Special Circumstances

05/20/10 09:19:31 pm, by Kris Kelso
Categories: Building & Managing Teams

This article might be described as a great big disclaimer to Management and Motivation Part 2 - 7 Motivating Factors.  In that article, I described several basic motivational factors I have observed in people over the years.

Reality, however, is rarely that simple.  Here, I hope to add some texture to that discussion by describing some exceptions and special circumstances where people are motivated differently than they might be otherwise.


When a person is lacking something important in their life and work, it changes their outlook and the way they respond to motivation.  Here are some examples of areas of lack which can significantly impact motivation:

  1. Financial. When people are in a difficult financial situation, they naturally tend to be motivated by money.  This doesn't mean that they are greedy or selfish, or that they don't care about their work - it just means they have a specific, basic need and they are looking for ways to meet it.
  2. Security. If a person feels their job or company is in jeopardy, their motivations will change accordingly. In some ways, this is also a financial impact, but there's more to it than that. Since many people derive their own sense of value from the job they perform or service they provide, they may feel that sense of value is in jeopardy as well, and that can lead them to be motivated more by recognition or appreciation than they might be under normal circumstances.
  3. Leadership. When an organization has poor leadership (or none at all), people's motivations are skewed by the effects of that lack.  The same person who, under strong leadership, would be motivated by challenge, might under weak leadership tend to be motivated more by inclusion or consideration.

Time and Maturity

How a person is motivated can and will change over time, as they mature and as their needs change.  As a manager, you need to regularly re-evaluate your people, and make sure you have not stuck them with a label which no longer applies.  If people are becoming disgruntled or productivity is on the decline, ask yourself if their motivating factors have changed, but your style of motivation has not kept up.

Motivating people not only requires that you adapt to individuals, but that you adapt to individual circumstances.

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