Sunday, 8 November 2009


I've often seen that motivation is mostly what sets apart a good performer from a bad performer at the workplace, and mostly, that's the difference between a happy worker and an unhappy one too. So, what is it that motivates someone to work? Or, what is somebody's incentive to work? because the incentive is essentially what motivates.

I'd classify incentives into two kinds - positive and negative.

Few examples of positive incentives (in no specific order):
-passion in you area of work
-appreciation from peers and superiors
-ambition to accomplish something
-money (money can also be a negative incentive depending on how you look at it)
-urge to make your end customer happy

Examples for negative incentives:
-fear of losing your job
-fear of having to deal with an irate customer
-fear of a bad appraisal
-fear of losing out in competition to your peers
-fear of your superior
-peer pressure
-money again (rather, the fear of not having enough money)
(the common element if you notice is *fear*, hence the term *negative* incentive)

If your incentives lie mostly on the second half, you need to seriously think over your work philosophy and figure out a way of converting your incentive system to a positive one. And trust me, the solution is mostly not in switching your job, workplace or team (though there may be exceptions). The solution mostly is a shift in the way you perceive & react to things.

By the way, if you are a manager and you rely heavily on the second half to get things done, you are sitting on a volcano.

This is an impulse post, will get back and refine once I distill these thoughts further.