Organization & Leadership Consulting
A close up of an engine's drive belts illustrates how helping others define their personal motives shows what drives them.
Helping others define their personal motives helps them understand what drives them.

What personally motivates each individual on your team is complexly unique to them, and that’s a good thing. Just as diversity on a team with a common purpose serves the organization more effectively, diversity of motivations can connect various components for greater momentum. Let’s take a look at helping others identify their personal motives.

Purpose and Meaning

At one point or another, most people seek to understand a reason for their existence. In the workplace, where people spend a vast sum of that existence, it’s valuable to help others define their personal motives. “Why am I here day in and day out?” Clarity in this area helps people continue to show up, literally and metaphorically, even on the most discouraging days.

A wide body of research reveals that monetary gain is not most people’s primary motive for showing up at work and getting the job done. If you dig a little deeper, even those who think they are driven by the compensation they receive may be surprised to learn they’re actually looking for purpose and meaning.

When it comes to helping people define their personal motives, encourage them to think about the long-term impact of the work they’re doing. Help them consider how to align their values with the values of your organization. Then consider the why.

The Why

At the intersection of organization & team-member values and goals, you’ll often find the “why”, or the core motive for their contributions within the workplace. Subsequently, remembering the “why” helps a person persevere. A teacher may be motivated by the well-being and growth of his or her students. A doctor may be motivated by a desire to provide a better quality of life for his or her patients. The thing many motives often have in common is a desire to create or contribute to a legacy that will last beyond a person’s lifetime. 

Ironically, that desire results in a person becoming a means to a higher purpose. It may not be “purpose” that drives a person; it may be a search for meaning. The latter comes from sacrificing in order to help fulfill a purpose beyond oneself. “Greater” is possible only through consistently acting in ways that go beyond the singular scale of Self.

Working Together

A motor is a complex thing…comprised of many simpler things working together.

Motor…Motivation…Locomotion…Motive. All the parts that make a motor and the vehicle which it powers operate effectively have been engineered to fit and work together for the common good of that vehicle and its purposes. If it doesn’t add to that set of outcomes, it is not needed. So, do you remove it or retool it so it adds something of value?

People are not machines. They are not merely parts to replace in a mechanical sense. However, they are designed to make a contribution to the common good. Some pursue that reality, some do not. Our encouragement to you is to help your people identify and understand their deeper motivations and to do so primarily for their sake…and secondarily for the organization.

The team at TurningWest is not comprised of mechanics. We specialize in the people aspects of organizational life and operations. However, we’d be glad to help you tune your engines. 

TurningWest – Your Guide to a healthy culture with meaningful results.

Suggested Resource: Andy Stanley and Carol Tome’ on Corporate Purpose


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