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How to Motivate and Avoid Motivation Crowding

written by: John P. Reiling • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 1/31/2018

Many things motivate people, but we often think of financial motivators first. However, the opportunity to do something that matters, to help people and to grow as a person motivates people. Indeed, there is a whole spectrum of motivators for every situation.

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    Decision Traps for Project managers Managers often default to financial motivators. Bonuses are a favorite tool. However, consider the reasons why this may not work.

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    Reasons a Bonus May Not Work

    • The person may be most interested in personal growth on the job, and a bonus will not give them that.
    • The person may be making sufficient compensation, leaving the bonus with negligible effect. That may sound surprising, but the effect of the bonus, while welcome, may not have lasting value.
    • The person may be in a career where they have already decided that they were not to do a particular job despite lower compensation. Because of that, in some cases the bonus will be very welcome, but it also may be very unexpected and accepted lukewarmly.
    • Sometimes that action of receiving the bonus may subtract from the intrinsic satisfaction someone is experiencing.
    • The bonus could make someone feel that they owe something more, a feeling that they do not wish to have.
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    Finding the Sweet Spot

    The key is to understand the range of motivating factors in a job and in fact even design the job around these. The, respect the motivating factors for what they are, and don't crowd them out with monetary compensation. Instead, try and find the sweet spot where the monetary compensation is balanced appropriately with the other motivators.

    Before applying motivators, have you taken the time to identify the motivators that really matter to your team members?

Decision Traps for PMs

Decision traps can cloud a PMs thinking, causing huge amounts of time, money and pain. In this series, we are exploring four that are particularly relevant to project managers.
  1. How to Tame Availability Bias
  2. How to Limit the Social Loafing Effect
  3. Experience Bias - Leverage (Don’t Misuse) Your Experience
  4. How to Motivate and Avoid Motivation Crowding