Material rewards like salaries and bonus schemes are often considered the number one motivator in the workplace.
But the need to make a living is rarely the only factor that drives you forward throughout your career. After all, 19% of big-ticket lottery winners in the UK choose to stay on in their roles.
You may have personal experience of the phenomenon described by everywoman’s Ros Taylor in the webinar Emotional intelligence: handling your emotions in the workplace. That is, when you seek out a role offering a significant salary increase, only to discover that your new position is at odds with the other career drivers you hold dear, and which must also be satisfied in order for you to be happy and fulfilled.
Understanding your own career drivers is key to making the very best choices and remaining your motivated best. The following diagnostic tool, adapted from the classic test devised by Managing Your Own Career author David Francis, will get you thinking about what matters most to you.
Take the quiz
Read the nine sets of statements below. Make a note of the three statements that most resonate with you – your strongest drivers. If you find it difficult to narrow it down to three, look at one set of statements versus another and ask yourself to choose which statement would win out in a real workplace situation.
Finally, make a note of any statements which do not resonate with you at all – those drivers which are unlikely to have a motivating effect on you.
- It’s important to me that I can afford to buy everything I want.
- Wealth is a great indicator of success.
- A salary increase is the most meaningful way to be rewarded by an employer.
- It’s important to me that I am seen as leadership material.
- I enjoy directing others in their work.
- I want to make decisions that will significantly change how things are done.
- It’s important to me that the work I do adds real value.
- Success lies in making a positive impact.
- I believe that doing what is right is more important than getting ahead.
- I enjoy the feeling that others see me as having specialist knowledge.
- Success is being perceived as an expert.
- I strive to be the ‘go-to’ person in my organisation on a particular topic.
- I enjoy putting my name to something truly innovative.
- I’m happiest when I’ve freedom to be creative.
- I thrive on doing something in a way that’s never been done before.
- Success is measured by the strength of my relationships.
- I enjoy building rapport with colleagues.
- I can get through most problems at work if I have the support of my close allies.
- I like to set my own agenda and decide how I’ll spend my time.
- I dislike being managed very closely.
- I’d rather be a big fish in a small pond than a cog in the corporate machine.
- A job with long-term prospects really appeals to me.
- I take the safe option if it guarantees longevity.
- I feel uncomfortable if I’m unsure where I’ll be financially in the distant future.
- I want others to see me as a key person within my organisation.
- Success is having people look up to me.
- I’d enjoy volunteering on a prestigious project considered critical to my company’s success.
A. MATERIAL REWARDS
Seeking wealth, material possessions and a high standard of living.
A continued upward salary trajectory is a strong motivating factor for you, while limited financial growth opportunities are likely to have you searching the job ads.
Seeking to be in control of people and resources.
Being able to make decisions and guide how others work is a strong motivator; having limited control can be a source of frustration that leads you to look elsewhere.
C. SEARCH FOR MEANING
Seeking to do things which are believed to be valuable for their own sake. You get a kick out of helping or ‘making better’, but are likely to be frustrated if ‘doing the right thing’ isn’t valued by colleagues or your organisation at large.
Seeking a high level of accomplishment in a specialised field.
High motivation results from being appreciated for your hard-earned knowledge and the freedom to develop and exercise this; low motivation may arise from working in an organisation where your particular expertise is not required, valued or acknowledged.
Seeking to innovate and be identified with original output.
You’ll be at your most motivated when challenged and inspired to do things differently, and at your least motivated within an organisation or team which maintains the status quo.
Seeking nourishing relationships with others at work.
Making strong, lasting and meaningful connections with those around you is a source of great accomplishment, while little or superficial interaction will impact your ability to self-motivate and enjoy your daily work-life.
Seeking to be independent and able to make key decisions for yourself.
This needn’t mean you don’t want or need support, but you’ll be at your happiest when trusted to be left to your own devices, and at your unhappiest when closely managed or given fixed guidelines for how you should deliver your work.
Seeking a solid and predictable future.
Your biggest source of workplace comfort lies in knowing that there’s a clear path for you which extends well into the future. Changing job descriptions or uncertain times are a source of discomfort.
Seeking to be recognised, admired and respected by the community at large.
You are uplifted when your work is recognised by the wider department, organisation, industry or even publically, and frustrated when your contributions are not recognised at an individual level.
Things to remember:
- Once you’ve identified your three key career drivers, examine them against your current or potential role and organisation. Is there a good match? Where are there discrepancies which may increase frustration?
- Thinking about the three drivers you’ve identified as having the least value to you individually, consider how these fit with your current organisational landscape. Does your company place great emphasis on motivating factors that have little appeal to you?
- Analyse your three career drivers side by side. What story do they tell as a group? For example, the combination of ‘power’, ‘influence’ and ‘autonomy’ indicates an entrepreneurial spirit maybe best suited to running your own business. Or the combination of ‘security’, ‘power/influence’ and ‘affiliation’ may indicate you are best suited to an organisation which offers a clear, on-going career path to a future leadership role.
- Be prepared to compromise. Can you cope in the short or medium term with a very hands-on boss (limiting your ‘autonomy’), if your organisation is currently one of the few in your industry where your desire for ‘security’ can be met? The weighting you attribute to each of your three drivers may fluctuate according to personal or organisational circumstances.
- Recognise that as well as their weighting, your drivers themselves may alter. Lifestyle changes, such as having children, aging, health or financial issues, may – temporarily or otherwise - drastically shift your motivating factors in the workplace. It’s worth returning to this quiz regularly to get a feel for any shifting priorities.
- If there is a discrepancy between your career drivers and your current organisational situation, consider if you can negotiate leeway with your boss. For example, if you value expertise, perhaps you can ask for more time away from your desk to attend conferences, taking care to outline the benefits this brings the organisation. If more autonomy will enable your greater job satisfaction, ask your manager for a stretch assignment that will prove your capability for independent work.
- Carefully research the culture and organisational landscape of any companies you are interviewing at, speaking to existing employees if you can. Figure out what questions you need to ask your interviewer to determine if your career drivers are likely to be a good fit. There’s nothing wrong with specifying your key motivating factors and asking how these may be met in the role in question.
- As a team leader, it’s important to be aware that what motivates you might be very different from those you work with. Often simply asking others about their drivers will yield greater knowledge of your team members. Understanding what rewards are likely to have the most resonance is key to inspiring others.
More quizzes on the everywomanNetwork