This is a video that I saw on Facebook, posted by several friends (Matt Bremer and Todd Kitta). If you have the time to watch it, I recommend it. The video, in a creative way, talks about what motivates. To sum it up:
- We are motivated by money, but it’s better put in negative terms, to say that if we aren’t offered money that seems like a significant sum to us, our performance won’t improve. So, in that sense, our best performance will come when money is no longer an issue.
- We are primarily motivated by three things: a desire to be self-directed, to be autonomous, to decide what we want to spend our time doing; by a desire to master a skill set; and a need for purpose in what we do.
I have to say, this sums up why I enjoy working for myself. Companies need to make a profit to exist, so by nature, they are very cash-motivated. However, as this video points out quite well, money is not what motivates me to get up in the morning.
Instead, I enjoy the self-determination of my job; I get decide how I’m going to spend my time each day. Of course, I want to please my clients so they trust me enough to give me more work, so that usually involves getting up early to work and not going to the movies at noon everyday. That being said, though, I work because I’m making that decision to work and not because some boss is complaining about my time sheet at the end of the week.
Along those lines, I find incredible satisfaction in the learning process itself; learning new things make me feel good. This gets back to the idea that people want to learn to master somthing. Being self-employeed provides an opportunity for me to choose how I spend my time, which might mean I choose to attend a week of training rather than be billable. If I were working for a company, I would need to explain the return on investment for attending the training; however, working for myself, I get to exercise the option to go to training simply because it gives me satisfaction in my job, even if I can’t make a pretty Excel spreadsheet explaining the cost-benefit analysis.
And finally, we all want a purpose. Although I’m well-aware that what I do is not curing cancer or placing men on the moon, I do feel like my job has purpose. I see people having to deal with incredibly painful business processes at work, and it gives me satisfaction knowing that what I do is making their life a little easier, day in and day out. Along the lines of purpose, I’m a Christian, and I feel like God calls us to excel in whatever field of work He has placed us, whether it’s washing floors or building Web sites. In that sense, too, I feel a sense of “calling” and “purpose” in my work, to do it to the best of my ability.
As the video points out, if companies can provide those things which motivate people, which at first might not seem to be financially justifiable, they will find a counter-intuitive return on investment when their people are happy, productive, and stick around longer.
I’m curious on your thoughts. Feel free to leave comments and let me know what you think.