What’s in it for me? Part 2 – Enter The Matrix

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In Part 1, we looked at how every request you make is really asking someone to give something up. Even at the office, a request can take time away from home or change the way a task is usually, comfortably done. But you are asking someone to make a sacrifice. So why would an employee or co-worker make a sacrifice for you?

Because of the motivation and incentives wrapped up in your request.

To understand how motivation works, Use a Motivation Matrix to plot where a particular motivation lands along two dimensions: internal-external and positive-negative. The resulting four quadrants all describe motivations that can get a request done, but will result in a very different—and sometimes outcome—for the person doing the work:

  • Internal-positive: Challenge, desire, passion, satisfaction, self-validation
    • Likely outcome: Successful change, fulfillment
  • External-positive: Recognition and appreciation from others, financial rewards
    • Likely outcome: Some change, partial fulfillment, dependent on others for continued change and good feelings
  • Internal-negative: Threat, fear of failure, inadequacy, insecurity
    • Likely outcome: Some change, but possible relapse from the requested change
  • External-negative: Fear of loss of job or relationship, insufficient respect from others, financial or social pressures, pressure from significant others, unstable life
    • Likely outcome: Some success, but high risk of relapse from the requested change

Got a proposal to get done Saturday? Is your boss driving it (external motivation) or do you want it done so you can leave for your Disney vacation the following Wednesday (internal motivation)? Are you going to get a bonus if the proposal wins the bid (positive motivation) or because you’ll be fired if you don’t come in to finish it over the weekend (negative motivation)?

All of those scenarios will get you in to work on Saturday, but look at the difference in the narratives, and think about how successful each one will be in creating change in you and your work. In one, you give up your Saturday in order to go on a big vacation, and you’ll end up with a bonus check if the prospect likes the proposal (internal-positive). In another other, you have a boss threating your career. Both will get you in on that Saturday to finish up the proposal (external negative), but which one is most effective in terms of getting you to want to change and do it again down the road?

Now apply thing thinking to your employees and co-workers and what the best way to get their cooperation so you can obtain your desired results.

You could tell your employees to just do it or you’ll find someone else to do it. Or you could tell them there will be a bonus check if the work is done correctly and on time.

Or you could ask them what they want.

Do you know what motivates your employees? Inspires them? Find out what they are passionate about in their job, whether it’s making customers happy or helping their co-workers create success and use that to get them fired up about your request. Motivate them by showing them that what’s in it for them is the part of their work that inspires them, and you’ll get better, more long-lasting results.

Next Time –
Part 3: The Assumptions Booby-Trap