In a recent Cafe post I described how a colleague mentioned he wasn’t comped to work on a project we were discussing. He happened to read the post and reached out to explain that it’s not about cash, it’s about measurement.
In other words, cash is just the scorecard. What motivates is feeling like a winner.
I thought that was a nice way of putting it. And although this kind of exploded my pet theory that sales people are more motivated by money than the rest of us, it fits in well with what we already know about motivation. Namely, that people are motivated by success or by the opportunity to feel successful.
Opportunity is about hope. Wasn't there a line in The Hunger Games about hope being stronger than fear?
The motivational power of opportunity is supported by a recent LinkedIn poll in which ‘Opportunity to Lead/Promotion’ outstrips other motivators by a wide margin and Cash comes in dead last.
So, why don’t companies just provide more opportunities to more people? It really comes down to three things:
- Managers - In most companies, managers are still the first line of input into who gets opportunities and their recommendations may be influenced by personal bias or self-interest.
- Lack of visibility - Although many companies track performance information about people in a particular role, they typically lack visibility into broader capabilities or aptitudes - which brings us back to relying on managers.
- Limited thinking - Opportunities to lead don’t require a promotion or changing to a new role but providing everyday leadership opportunities requires a new way of thinking and managing people.
Having said that, in numerous companies people perform tasks and participate in projects outside of their official role. They may ‘report to’ a number of people besides their own manager. It has become common to lead teams or manage projects without a manager title.
The traditional career development role of managers has also evolved as people plug into social networks, reach out to mentors, and broadcast their skills and experience in public forums such as LinkedIn to find their next opportunity. At the same time, the formal performance evaluation is evolving into more frequent peer reviews and feedback in many organizations.
Companies are also starting to realize they must get better at identifying potential and developing talent across the entire organization - not just within the purview of individual managers - and are looking for solutions to help them do that. They recognize they must enable people to define their own career paths so they don’t feel obliged to look elsewhere for the next development opportunity.
And forward thinking companies support individual initiative and reward entrepreneurial spirit.
Opportunity to lead. Think about it. There’s a world of opportunity in those three little words.
Laura Schroeder is a global talent specialist at Workday, headquartered in Pleasanton, CA. She has nearly fifteen years of experience envisioning, designing, developing, implementing and evangelizing global Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions and holds a certificate in Strategic Human Resources Practices from Cornell University. Her articles and interviews on HCM topics have been published in the US, Europe and Asia. She lives in Munich, Germany and enjoys cooking, reading, writing, kick boxing (well, kicking things) and spending time with friends and family. If you want to read more from Laura, check out her talent management blog Working Girl or follow her on Twitter @WorkGal.
Picture courtesy of LinkedIn.