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Published on January 20, 2021

4 Most Critical Motivation Theories to Boost Your Productivity

4 Most Critical Motivation Theories to Boost Your Productivity

We all dream big about how our lives should be, but it’s the motivation that drives us to act consistently towards making those dreams a reality. However, despite our best intentions, for a lot of us, this motivation is fleeting. It comes and goes, and the fluctuating drive often takes a toll on our productivity. For centuries, psychologists have been fascinated and intrigued by human behavior and have developed various motivation theories on what drives humans to act a certain way.

Let’s look at how you can use these motivation theories to boost your productivity.

Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory

Understanding that there is a direct link between satisfaction and productivity is the easiest way to move towards increased efficiency. Think about it—if your work gave you a sense of pleasure and satisfaction instead of stress, would you complain about work or procrastinate? The question we must ask ourselves then is, “what brings work satisfaction?”

Frederick Herzberg’s motivation theory explains two types of factors that can be used to regulate our levels of satisfaction and dissatisfaction—hygiene and motivation factors.[1]

Hygiene factors are the bare minimum essential aspects that prevent dissatisfaction. While the presence of hygiene factors will not give rise to enormous satisfaction, the absence of this satisfaction will create extreme discontent. Hygiene factors include compensation, job security, social needs, work environment.

How Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory Increases Your Productivity

1. Compensation

Being underpaid is the silent killer of satisfaction. If you’re continually feeling undervalued or taken for granted at work, then compensation can be the problem.

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Observe yourself in a regular workday and assess if your lack of motivation to work arises from not getting paid what you deserve. If so, then it’s time to rake up the courage and ask for a raise or renegotiate the pricing for your services, so you feel rightfully compensated for your time, energy, and efforts.

2. Work Environment

Your environment has to be conducive to your productivity. Whether you work from the office or home, choose a spot where you can work uninterrupted. De-clutter your desk, decorate it to your personal preferences, and set the ambiance right to get you going as soon as you enter your work environment.

3. Socializing Needs

Whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, building harmonious relations is key to developing a healthy state of mind.

4. Security

You cannot be productive or motivated if you’re constantly feeling insecure about your role. If you’re an employer, ensure that security for your team members to flourish and thrive. If you’re employed, reach out to your supervisor to have a conversation on your role, position, and the company’s vision to get that confidence.

Motivator Factors

Once the basics are right, Herzberg identifies another set of factors called motivator factors. These help individuals’ level-up their performance and motivate them to work harder.

Here are some examples of motivator factors:

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  1. Engaging in Meaningful work: We are much more productive if we believe in what we are doing. Find meaning in what you do and be clear on why you’re doing what you do—this is the ultimate way to boost your productivity.
  2. Celebrating Wins: Often, we fail to recognize our accomplishments and celebrate what we get right. Being mindful of the tasks on your to-do list and having a small ritual at the end of the day to celebrate accomplishing them can motivate you to work harder to celebrate more often.
  3. Identify rewards: Humans are aspirational, and knowing what rewards you’ll get for the work you do can be a great way to keep yourself going. Rewards could be a promotion you become eligible for or a trip to Iceland on hitting that business turnover goal. Defining the reward and visualizing it can be a great way to boost productivity and stay motivated.

Today’s motivators are tomorrow’s hygiene because the latter stop influencing their behavior once they achieve them. So, as you grow, you need to upgrade your motivator factors to fuel the drive that keeps you going.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is one of the most relatable motivation theories. The theory is based on the fact that nothing motivates us more than our own needs.

Here, humans’ needs are bifurcated into a hierarchical manner from a lower order to higher order forming a pyramid. Once a given level of need is satisfied, it no longer serves to motivate a person. Then, the next level of need becomes the motivating factor.

The 5 levels of needs, according to Abraham Maslow, are:[2]

  1. Physiological needs: This is the primary and most basic need of any human being-the survival need for food, shelter, air, water, etc. Physiological needs are most critical as the human body cannot function optimally unless these needs are fulfilled.
  2. Safety needs: Once survival is assured, humans begin to long for safety and security. Examples of safety needs are emotional security, financial security, protection from physical danger, health and well-being, etc. Fulfilling these needs requires more money, and hence humans are motivated to work harder.
  3. Social needs: Humans are social beings. Our need to socialize, longing for companionship, and craving to belong comes next in the hierarchy. For example, friendships, love, trust, and a sense of belonging to a tribe or community are required to better quality of life.
  4. Esteem needs: We have the need to be respected. Fulfillment of these needs leads to building self-confidence, realizing one’s own strength, capability, and value.
  5. Self-actualization needs: Only when all other needs are fulfilled does the self-actualization need comes into the picture. This is the highest spiritual aspiration where one can dive within and become the best version of oneself. Maslow estimated that only 2% of the people would reach the state of actualization.

How Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Increases Your Productivity

According to the theory, the lowest level of unmet need is the prime motivator of behavior. Figure out where do you stand in the hierarchy, which is your unmet need. That is your motivator. Take steps towards fulfilling those needs so that you can move towards self-actualization ultimately.

Begin with making concrete plans to fulfill your fundamental needs—safety and financial security. Then, look at love and belonging.

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Do you have like-minded people you connect with? If not, find ways to meet new people and form relations. It could be a spin class or a yin yoga session nearby. Be a part of social groups or communities and engage in meaningful conversation.

For the self-esteem needs, examine your life and assess if you engage meaningfully across. If your career seems stagnating, explore how you can transition to more challenging job opportunities. If your personal life seems to be slacking, have conversations with your significant other to see how you can make your relationship stronger and meaningful for both of you.

When all these needs are met comes the biggest question of finding your purpose. Each of us has unique experiences that make specific work more meaningful to us than others. Finding your purpose is finding that area of work that speaks to you and calls to you and finds expression through you. You can introspect to identify this for yourself or work with a coach to find your true calling and chart out the path towards living that life for yourself.

Hawthorne Effect

Another useful motivation theory is the Hawthorne Effect, which suggests that there exists a tendency to work harder and perform better when we are being observed. During an experiment, researchers altered several physical conditions to affect productivity, but employee productivity increased each time.[3] The study proved that we are motivated to work harder and perform better when we know that our work is being observed.

How the Hawthorne Effect Increases Your Productivity

At work, this happens automatically as we all have supervisors and leaders observing and evaluating our performance periodically. So, we don’t slack professionally. However, since we are not answerable to anybody in our personal lives, we end up dropping the ball.

A simple way to implement the Hawthorne Effect in your personal life to boost productivity is to have an accountability buddy. You don’t need a boss or your supervisor to keep an eye on you twenty-four seven. All you need is a buddy.

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  1. Pair up with your friend or co-worker to be your accountability buddy. If your friend is from the same field, even better.
  2. Communicate your short-term—weekly or daily—goals to each other.
  3. Design a schedule on how you plan to achieve these goals and monitor each other’s progress
  4. For better control, you can even decide punishments if the other one fails to achieve their goals.

Personal growth can be fun and fulfilling with an accountability partner by your side throughout the journey.

Expectancy Theory

This motivation theory states that our behaviors are directly influenced by the results we expect as an outcome of our actions.[4]

The theory proposes 3 elements our motivation relies on:

  • Expectancy: We act based on how likely our efforts are expected to deliver favorable results. Our expectations are molded by our past experiences, self-confidence, and the level of difficulty of the goal we plan to undertake.
  • Instrumentality: This is the belief that we will receive the reward if we put in the necessary efforts or behave in a particular fashion.
  • Valence: This refers to how valuable the reward is to an individual. For some, money could be a powerful motivator while for others, recognition is. Our motivation is higher when the reward is valuable for us.

How the Expectancy Theory Increases Your Productivity

Whenever you set intentions for yourself, spend time actually penning down why you’re aspiring for the goal and the results you hope to achieve. This is why vision boards are beneficial because you visualize the outcome of your efforts, which motivates you to keep at it.

For any goal you are working towards, write out the outcomes you anticipate, how you will feel when you achieve them, and why the result is crucial to you. As you work towards it, review this document time and again to keep yourself motivated.

Final Thoughts

Motivation theories provide insight into how we can find that motivation in our daily lives and be more productive. As we start a brand-new decade, it is time we make our dreams a reality. Employ the motivation theories that resonate most with you and enhance your drive and energy to work towards your goals consistently, and make it count.

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“People often say that motivation doesn’t last for long. Well, neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily.” —Zig Ziglar

More Tips on How to Increase Your Motivation

Featured photo credit: Cam Adams via unsplash.com

Reference

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Shwetha Sivaraman

Entrepreneur, Self-Awareness Coach, and a Podcaster at Being Meraklis

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Last Updated on July 22, 2021

How To Stay Motivated As You Build Your Business

How To Stay Motivated As You Build Your Business

Remember the day you launched your own business? You had spent months or years developing your idea. You may have sacrificed a steady job to become the master of your professional destiny. Having entrepreneur motivation was easy, natural, and energizing in the beginning.

So, why are you struggling to stay motivated now when you need it most? Your business, after all, isn’t going to build itself.

Nearly everything in life experiences cycles. The solar system, hormones, your washing machine—and yes, even motivation. Movement is inherent in cycles. If you stop moving, your business simply grinds to a halt, and you may find yourself looking for a job after all.

The mere threat of stagnation should be enough to get your entrepreneur motivation mojo back online. If that’s not enough, here are eight ways you can stay motivated as you build your business.

1. Recognize That Business Motivation Doesn’t Last on Its Own

Ironically, the first step in staying motivated is realizing that motivation doesn’t last—at least not without some effort. Think of the verbs associated with motivation, such as “incite,” “stimulate,” and “inspire.” They all speak to elevating something low.

Highs and lows, ebbs and flows, are all cyclical. There are days when you have so much you want to accomplish that you won’t have the hours. On others, you may struggle to even get dressed. As does every aspect of your business, motivation requires constant care and feeding. So, don’t despair during those times you feel bottomed out. Recall the almost manic thrill you get when your entrepreneur motivation seems to be unstoppable and concentrate on recapturing it.

Motivation neither just happens nor lasts. It takes focus, drive, and a conscious effort. When it lags, roll up your sleeves, choose a task, and get back to the business-building at hand.

2. Expand Your Network

No business or entrepreneur can operate in a bubble. Connection to customers, vendors, employees, and other entrepreneurs is vital to growing a business. It’s also motivational. I find that one of the things that makes me most energized about my business is the connections I make while networking.[1]

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Networking effectively is about give and take, which means you only get as good as you give. Be generous with your thoughts, ideas, and connections, and others will reciprocate.

These days, there are myriad networking channels to choose from. There are the tried-and-true conferences, industry and professional organizations, and even your local Chamber of Commerce. But the internet and social media have vastly expanded the opportunities to connect with other empire-building, ambitious people.

If you aren’t networking because you didn’t think it was worth your time, get out there. Not only will you pick up some great ideas, but you’ll also find yourself reinspired. Few things are as motivating as encountering other people’s enthusiasm for your business.

3. Focus on Your Goals

We all know that goals are important. If we fail to set them, how do we know when we have achieved something? In business, as in life, we need targets.

For me, having a goal focus is intrinsically motivational. Have you met all the business goals you set previously?[2] Then, it’s time to set some new and even more ambitious ones than before.

Keep in mind that business goals can be moving targets, as circumstances change and reality sets in. What you must avoid is allowing yourself or your business to be paralyzed by indecision.

As Yogi Berra said, “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”

The mere exercise of setting goals is energizing, so use the process when you’re in a slump. Make sure you set realistic goals—neither too high nor too low. Once the big ones are in place, establish mileposts so you know your business is on the right path.

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4. Stay True to Your Mission (or Find a New One)

Unlike goals, the mission of your business should not be a moving target. While a mission can and should be reassessed periodically, it must, nonetheless, remain a constant for a significant period of time. That’s because it should be driving everything you do.

The world changes quickly. Customers, technology, markets, workforces, and supply chains are in a constant state of flux. In my business, the challenge has always been to respond to change while remaining true to our mission.[3] On this point, Jim Collins’ Hedgehog Concept is spot on.[4]

According to Collins, your mission can be found at the intersection of three key truths about your enterprise:

  1. What you’re deeply passionate about
  2. What you can be best in the world at
  3. What drives your economic or resource engine

You should find motivation in the mission of your business. If you don’t, perhaps you aren’t passionate about it, can’t be the best in the world at it, or aren’t making money delivering it. If that’s the case, find a mission that intersects, and you’ll rediscover your entrepreneur motivation.

5. Celebrate Wins and Learn From Losses

Too many times, business owners fail to celebrate wins and learn from losses. That’s unfortunate because both wins and losses are two well-known secrets of entrepreneur motivation. If you aren’t treating them as the motivators they are, you should be.

Go back to those goals you set when you started your business. Have you achieved them?

If you did, have you taken the time to celebrate those wins with your stakeholders? If you haven’t reached them, figure out why, make adjustments, and try to turn them into wins. Wallowing in losses instead of learning from them and moving on is a sure way to lose motivation.

Don’t forget to celebrate the small wins as well. In my company, we ring a gong every time we land a new client so the small victory reverberates through the office. Doing this builds our confidence, generates enthusiasm, and motivates our team to aim higher. I recommend finding your own way to acknowledge the small wins that are necessary to achieve those major victories your business needs to flourish.

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When a lack of motivation sets in, take stock of everything you have accomplished. Pat yourself on the back and bask in the glow of achievement. That pause may be all you need to motivate you to achieve more success.

6. Identify Your Disruptive Powers

When you launched your business, were you just joining the pack? Or did you want to fill a gaping, empty market niche? Odds are, you believed you had a solution to a problem that no other business was figuring out.

Take Uber, Netflix, and Blue Apron. They disrupted the taxi, movie, and food industries by putting a revolutionary spin on the traditional way of doing business. In doing so, they solved problems the market wasn’t even aware it had.

The business you’re building may not be the next Tesla, but that doesn’t mean it can’t disrupt an industry, a sector, or just your local business community. You might discover a new customer service paradigm or a way to use technology that no one else has.

You can’t be innovative without being motivated, and if you aren’t motivated, your business will only achieve the status quo. So, start imagining ways you can disrupt your industry to kickstart your motivation. Even little ripples can turn into serious waves.

7. Spend Some Time Away

Building a business is exhausting during normal times. Throw in the stress and radical changes accompanying a global pandemic, and life can become overwhelming. This can lead to depression, indecision, paralysis, or even sheer panic.

You can’t control the world, but you can control your response to what’s happening. Start by stopping your attempts to do it all and set some priorities instead. When overwhelmed with life, one of those priorities must be yourself.

Spend some time away from work to recharge. A bit of respite is the only way you can replace the energy and inspiration sapped by a turbulent world. Work to overcome the feeling that your business can’t run without you, especially when your lack of motivation isn’t doing it any favors anyway.

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A little rest and relaxation may be all you need to return to the office reinvigorated. If your break involves travel, exposure to different places and cultures might even spark new trains of thought. You will be motivated to pick up where you left off and get back to growing your business.

8. Remain Customer-Centric

Whatever widget or widget service you sell, you have customers. Your lack of motivation does a disservice to a market looking to your business for solutions. When your business motivation wanes, think of those customers counting on you to succeed.

Keeping your eye on your customers isn’t a distraction from building your business. The most successful companies in the world are extremely customer-centric. Think about Apple’s uncanny ability to anticipate customer needs or Google’s cloud-based growth stemming from empathy for the challenges facing their customers.

Perhaps, there is a relationship between your lack of motivation and customer neglect. Remaining vigilant about their needs will determine whether or not your business is successful. To conduct surveys, read customer reviews, and do market research to discover those needs. After all, if you aren’t solving their problems, what are you doing?

When the noise from the daily demands of running a business gets too loud, tune it out. Listen to what your customers are saying about you and what they’re asking for. Responding to them will require focus, as you are motivated by your dream to build a successful business.

Final Thoughts

Motivation is movement, action—a driving force of human nature. Although it waxes and wanes as naturally as the lunar cycle, restoring business motivation can require a concentrated effort. It’s an effort you’ll want to make because a prolonged lack of motivation is deadly.

If you lack the motivation to eat, you starve. If you lack the motivation to drive in your lane, you crash. If you lack the motivation to build your business, you fail.

You are obviously a highly motivated individual. If you weren’t, you never would have started a business of your own. Entrepreneurs are, at their cores, a rare and uniquely inspired breed.

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So, when your entrepreneur motivation flatlines, don’t give up. Whether the spark comes from a personal connection, a new goal, a brief vacation, or a customer comment, there are ways to get yourself back on the business-building track again.

Featured photo credit: Ellyot via unsplash.com

Reference

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