All About Motivation

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Salute, Khabrovites!

Here is another Monday, which means that all over the country, and around the world, millions of people "will go to this work again", in which they are only happy on Friday and the day of pay. So I wanted to share my thoughts on motivation at work - motivating myself and others. I will try to show that often the negative emotions experienced from work are associated not with the kind of activity, but with the wrong organization, and that by doing the same actions in a different way, you can achieve amazing results in your own emotional mood, which cannot but affect on the results. But first things first.

Uninteresting work does not happen

I am a programmer by profession, and it’s easy to love the work of a programmer. She is somewhere on the verge of creativity and science. Everyone will love this. Therefore, as an example, I will talk about my working childhood when I was not yet a programmer, and show how I managed to find interest in work.

Spatula and wall
Somehow they charged me with an obligation to scrape off with a spatula(such a flat flexible spatula) from the kitchen wall oil paint. At the stage of reconnaissance of a new instrument, at which I got acquainted with the most effective movements, there was nothing else. But when I found that the paint just could not be cut off like a peel from a potato, and appreciated the results of my work, expressed in a small speck, with a menacing amount of upcoming work in the amount of one wall, I was completely depressed. What can you do? Work is work. I undertook to scrape the wall, peering out of nothing to do to the front of the work. The line between the cleaned and uncleaned territories was distressingly distorted (who cares if I don’t know), which reminded me of the state borders between the often warring countries (in all deserts the borders are straight, and where there were wars, blood was shed for every kilometer, like I poured sweat with a spatula). This inspired me to the battle analogy. I imagined that the cleared territory is my army, which is beating to death with the enemy around me - oil paint. And I, the hero commander, threw my troops into battle. Surprisingly, this metaphor allowed me to discover a more effective way of scraping paint. If before that I had stupidly scrapped in different directions, trying to evenly expand the front, now I violently beat off islands of paint from the main front, and surrounded me easily coped with them. So I independently discovered gamification and the concept of work batch. but this metaphor allowed me to discover a more effective way of scraping paint. If before that I had stupidly scrapped in different directions, trying to evenly expand the front, now I violently beat off islands of paint from the main front, and surrounded me easily coped with them. So I independently discovered gamification and the concept of work batch. but this metaphor allowed me to discover a more effective way of scraping paint. If before that I had stupidly scrapped in different directions, trying to evenly expand the front, now I violently beat off islands of paint from the main front, and surrounded me easily coped with them. So I independently discovered gamification and the concept of work batch.

Sand for SEGA
Another time, I decided to make money on a SEGA game console and got a job as a laborer. As part of the assignment, I had to raise half a cubic meter of sand to the fifth floor for screeding the balcony. A bucket of sand weighs about twelve kilograms, and in a half cubic meter of sand there are fifty such buckets. Two buckets at a time - twenty-five calls. Flimsy hands began to hurt after the third time, which is 12% of the work. Then I mentally disassembled my final goal - shogu - into parts and roughly estimated how each of the approaches affects the achievement of the goal. For example, pouring sand and going downstairs for the next batch, I thought: “Here, I’ve already turned on the power button”, “Here is our joystick, go behind the cord!”. And I went down for the next batch with enthusiasm. So I independently discovered the effect of dopamine and norepinephrine on my mood and physical well-being. Oh yeah shogu me

Definition of motivation

The word “motivation” of whole (as if there could be non-integer!) Four meanings, some of which it inherits from the word “motivation”. Here they are:
  1. The process of making arguments that explain or justify an action.
  2. A set of arguments to justify something.
  3. Psychophysiological signal, causing excitation of the brain and inducing animals, humans to meet their needs.
  4. Word-formation connection between words
In the managerial sense, all these (except for the last) meanings are mixed in one heap, so that we get some strange hybrid, the only possible statement about which is “employees have no motivation”. It is important to understand that managerial motivation (1), consisting in bringing motivation (2) to get motivation (3), is a non-atomic process and can fall apart at any stage. To be more specific, I will give my definition of motivation in a working context that will solve the same problems as the totality of an ambiguous analogue.

Why motivation is needed
In simple terms, employee motivation is necessary so that the workflow does not fade away. If employees do not have motivation, then the initiative of the project manager, expressed in the form of periodic kicks, is the only driving force that ensures the project moves forward. The movement is inaccessible, but impetuous, diluted with periodic regressions. If something is not completely clear to the unmotivated employee in the task at hand, he will think up and do as he understood. If an unmotivated employee has no tasks, he will go about his business and wait for the manager to let him go. An unmotivated employee fully gives the manager the initiative, and with it the responsibility for the final result. The lack of motivation from the point of view of the manager resembles an Italian strike - everyone does formally what they are told

The reason for the degradation of efficiency lies in the fact that a high degree of uncertainty is inherent in the IT industry itself, which requires an employee - whether it is a project or operational activity - a high degree of intellectual involvement. Do not think that motivation is needed only in the field of IT. Not at all. In any field, motivation increases labor efficiency, and my examples with a spatula and sand prove this. Just in the IT field, employee motivation changes work efficiency by orders of magnitude. The proof of this thesis is a topic for a separate article, so we will not focus on this here.

So, motivated employees are a means of saving project resources, such as the time and effort of a project manager. Unmotivated employees have to be driven as sheep shepherds so as not to disperse, while motivated employees can be led like a wolf pack leader.

What is motivation?

In the framework of this article, we will call motivation the emotional and psychological state of an employee, which when setting a task allows you to get more energy from him than is invested in bringing it to him.

This definition provides the life of running processes, preventing them from fading away. In a sense, this definition is equivalent to the definition of engagement of users providing viral marketing of a product. And this is not surprising. User engagement is based on the same cognitive mechanisms as employee motivation, and the marketing company is similar to collective project creativity.

This definition also shows why, in the absence of motivation (or at low indicators), the project needs periodic injection of energy in the form of kicks and the questions “well, how is the task?” So loved by all employees. If you ride a bicycle, then you need to pedal all the time. By car, you can press the pedal once, and she herself will be lucky. Motivation, by the way, is etymological and goes back to the Latin verb moveo, meaning "move" (compare with the English move).

Anatomy of motivation

Since we defined motivation as an emotional and psychological state, we will see how motivation is provided by the brain. By the way, due to the incorrect interpretation of the word “motivation” (namely, as the meaning of (1)), it seems to many that motivation is a conscious process based on correctly selected words. Many managers like to collect motivational meetings and broadcast them in a rather monotonous manner, which at the second meeting is declared by employees as “bullshitting” (nonsense), and begins to demotivate more than if it weren’t. A fairly common template - we are the best, but we need to work even harder to be even better. Even if such words motivate someone, then this is not the motivation that we are talking about. The very mechanisms of brain functioning cannot be based on a quarterly repeated spell that we are the best, but one has to be even better, to provide an influx of cognitive energy. The brain works differently.

Brain motivation
The information-and-information theory claims that before taking any action, the brain preliminary predicts the expected result exactly as the probability of its achievement and, having completed the action, compares the actual result with the predicted one. It is about any action - absolutely any. Even sending a signal to “blink” to the eyes, the brain predicts a neural signal from the eyelids “we are closed” and “we are open”. Watching a moving object, the brain predicts its next position, and expects the retina to confirm its hypothesis. In a sense, the brain lives in eternal TDD - they announce the expected result, perform an action and verify that expectations are consistent with reality.

When expectations coincide with reality, the brain rewards itself with dopamine release- a neurotransmitter responsible for consolidating a positive experience from a human point of view. For example, dopamine is actively excreted during sex and eating delicious food. In a sense, dopamine is the very chemistry responsible for happiness. In the same sense, the brain is happy when it is not mistaken.

The more the brain has data on the results of the upcoming action, the more accurately it makes a forecast. The lower the likelihood of achieving a forecast as a result of the action taken, the more dopamine is released by the brain to "mark a successful release." Thus, the accumulated experience increases the accuracy of forecasts, reducing the incredibility of success, giving the perfect action a shade of gloom. It is on this formula that routine is based - repeated actions do not offer the brain any challenges, so it sits on a dopamine diet.

Conclusions from the Anatomy of Motivation
If the brain has a lot of data about the upcoming task, then the probability of achieving a forecast is high, so the brain receives little pleasure. However, if there is too little or no data at all, then the brain will not be able to build an achievable forecast and the action itself will be inconclusive from his point of view. This is a condition called "doing, I don’t know what." In this state, dopamine is not produced at all, and the brain works in / dev / null. Such activity is even more dull than a solid routine in which the brain periodically checks that the world is still what it should be. Insufficient information when setting a task is the best way to turn an employee away from it.

However, this is only the first part. Once the action is completed, it is vital for the brain to know where the resources it has invested are spent. If this information is hidden from the brain, he experiences the same disappointment as if he did not know what to expect. Feedback is a vital mechanism in increasing motivation. Not just the connection itself, but the timeliness thereof. There are even mechanisms in the brain that replace the perception of time in order to provide a motor causal relationship. That is why working with an inhibitory application that responds asynchronously to actions infuriates users in this way - feedback is broken, closing the motivation cycle.

Motivation as a process

So, we have defined motivation as a mental state, but by itself it will get into the brain of employees either by chance, or if they will instill it themselves. As a rule, self-motivated employees stay for a short time in the project and motivate themselves to more ambitious tasks, so both phenomena in the project are quite rare. Thus, if the project manager needs motivation, he must develop it himself. The word “if” in the previous sentence is not a rhetorical device. Before embarking on the development of motivation, the manager must honestly answer the question whether he really needs it. It so happened that “motivation” is one of the buzzwords that managers are in a hurry to give their project, although they understand the advantages and cost of this phenomenon quite vaguely. Motivation is a subtle and well-balanced matter, maintaining it can turn the process upside down, depriving the manager of customary rights and methods. Product development is also possible without employee motivation - if motivation is not a priority, we must honestly admit this and not torment ourselves or employees, saving energy for life-giving kicks.

Motivation formula
Motivation in the project is provided by the following formula:
Any action performed by employees within the project should have the following three components:
  1. Task Setting Context
  2. Formulation of the problem
  3. The fastest feedback on the integration of results with the project
Speaking about the project, it is not just a development project that is meant, but a project in a broader sense - as a result of focused collective creativity, whether it is collecting signatures in support of penguin rights in South Africa, a survey on the degree of employee satisfaction, or a draft bugfix for an inherited system. In my experience, project managers focus only on clause 2., more sophisticated ones care a little about clause 1., but clause 3. is the most ignored and misunderstood aspect that painfully motivates and develops the division into “we” and employees "Managers". We consider each of the aspects separately.

Task context
Context is the very information that gives the brain the opportunity to make a forecast about the expected result. Having no context, the brain considers the proposed action meaningless and does not provide him with motivational support. Describing the context, you seem to bring the employee’s brain to determine the need for the upcoming task. And if the context is defined correctly, and the brain has made exactly that forecast about the expected result, which corresponds to the task, this is not your task anymore - this is the task of the employee’s brain. You involved the brain and transferred the task to it. Possessing a task that the brain has thought of itself, he appears responsible for her. The brain only achieves its goals. Reaching someone else's goal is considered by the brain as exploitation. That is why it is important that the brain creates this goal itself.

It is important to understand that bringing the context of the task is not a formal process, and before each task it is not necessary to conduct a confidential conversation with the employee. If the context is clear based on past experience, the brain will build a goal without suggestions and persuasion. Therefore, to save energy on introducing a task into the context, it is important to build the process so that the completion of one task is the context for the next - then you can save on introductory conversations. However, if there is no confidence in the presence of context, you can not save on a conversation under any circumstances - otherwise you can forget about the employee’s personal responsibility for the work.

Formulation of the problem
If the context of the task is brought correctly, this stage is a formality. But a formality is mandatory. After all, the brain that made the forecast has solved the subtask for predicting the expected result, and it needs confirmation. Having formulated the statement of the problem, you confirm the hypothesis of the brain, forcing it to develop dopamine - the employee is happy that he received exactly the task that he wanted. And he wanted it himself - because it was his brain that discovered the need to do what is missing.

The statement of the problem is not necessarily expressed by your wording to the employee. Best of all, when the employee himself formulates the task that he understood, and you agree with her. I had a manager (the best in the world!) Who never said what needs to be done. He just started talking about the project until you yourself said that you need to do this, this and that. Then he said - oh, fine, do you? How not to do something after this? Note that this approach also ensures that the task is understood correctly. The answer “aha” expressed as a result of familiarization with the statement of the problem does not mean that the person understood exactly what was written there.

Having correctly received the task, the employee lights up with motivation and rushes to do it. As a rule, a motivated employee copes with her well, so that she successfully integrates with the project. This is where the time comes for the main mistake that most managers make - success does not reach the employee. What for? The task is done, it is time to move on to the next. Recall the brain motivation cycle and note that, having completed the task, the brain is waiting for the confirmation of its hypothesis. Yes, he understood the problem correctly, and you confirmed this hypothesis at the stage of setting, but he also coped with this task! How can he understand that what he has done really corresponds to his ideas about real expectations? The argument that “if there were problems, they would have turned to him” does not work. This is a UNIX command silent if all is well, and swear when an error occurs. The brain needs explicit confirmation. Even deciding to blink, he expects a clear signal that the blink has happened. Thus, logical calculations and conventions do not work. If, after completing the task, the brain did not receive an explicit confirmation of success, he believes that the efforts were wasted, which is especially offensive if you take into account how enthusiastically he fought over it.

That is why feedback is an ongoing process. This is not an annual (but at least quarterly) talk on certification in the style of "you're done!" Keep it up!". How to hold Again, feedback does not have to be verbal. After each successful assembly, it is not necessary to resort to employees, shake hands with them and kiss on the cheek. It is enough for a person to see where his work has gone, and how it merged with the overall project. See clearly without extra effort. The determination that the task was completed successfully should not be a source for another task, so excuses like “let the bugtracker open and look for” do not work. The work process must be visualized, easily accessible and visual. The completed task should itself return feedback to the employee, showing that he is in tune with the project,

Motivation levels
Motivation is a multi-level concept. Even blinking the brain needs motivation, not to mention the motivation to get involved in semi-annual projects. As actions are embedded in each other, so are motivation. The motivation to talk with a colleague is invested in motivation to better understand the task that is invested in motivation to cope with the functionality for which you are responsible, which in turn is part of the motivation to deliver the product on time and in the proper quality. Lower levels of motivation are necessary for the existence of the upper, but the upper levels support the lower. For example, if you like a product, this gives you another reason to take care of the quality of the task, even if you do not like it. After all, it is needed for a goal dear to the heart (brain). And the brain can tolerate inconvenience if it knows why it is needed.

From all this variety of motivations, we isolate the two levels that are most important for building the process of motivated development.

Motivation for the task.
Motivation at the task level is the motivation to do this task wholeheartedly, to mobilize all emotional and intellectual efforts for it, since it seems absolutely necessary at the moment. To achieve the objective motivation, a competent introduction to the context and statement of the problem is necessary . Without them, the task is non-native, done through the sleeves, and “this manager” bears responsibility for it. If an employee is working on a task without a fire in his eyes, most likely he has not set a task motivation.

Project Motivation
This level of motivation allows you to enthusiastically work even on tedious (i.e., tasks with a high probability of success being achieved) tasks with enthusiasm for the sake of moving towards a higher-order task - successful completion of the project. Feedback is strongly influenced by this level., showing the degree of approach to the final desired goal, turning the completed uninteresting task into a positive experience, which is also washed by the brain with dopamine. If you do not show how the completed task affected the project as a whole, no matter how interesting it may be, the employee will have a sense of exploitation, because the best impulses of his soul merge into a black hole of unknown. Even if an employee takes pleasure in their own productivity, impersonal tasks without a global sense of forward movement create a sense of routine that is inherent in most large organizations. Feedback is the secret that closes the cycle of project motivation, turning employees into fighters.

Motivation with bucket and spatula

Now that we know how motivation works, we’ll try to understand why I got motivation when I scrubbed a wall and carried buckets of sand.

In the case of the wall, I lacked objective motivation, since the actions of my brain did not affect the achievement of the goal. Having learned to scrape off the paint, my brain increased its experience to the level at which its predictions of success with a spatula were 100% consistent with the result, so routine began to oppress him. When I came up with the “surround and destroy” game, each new environment offered the brain a new task that it had not yet solved, so it was interesting for him every time to solve the most optimal strategy for the environment and destruction, depending on the relief of the front. As a result, the brain received a bunch of interesting tasks, which he was interested in solving, even out of context, for which he does it. I could scrape off the paint with this method even from the Great Wall of China, and my brain would all play like the brain of an avid gamer.

In the case of sand buckets, the task was uninteresting and uncomfortable by definition - to drag 24 kg of sand to the fifth floor has a minimum level of uncertainty and a maximum level of discomfort. However, presenting the goal to the shogu, I endowed each of the uninteresting tasks with a fictional award, showing my progress towards the ultimate goal. Although it was self-hypnosis, the brain endowed each of the actions with a hypothesis, which he had no reason to refute. Therefore, it was filled with dopamine-happiness after each rise. And not only this. He also looked forward to happiness on the rise, but what is happiness, if not an anticipation of happiness?

What is not work motivation?

In conclusion, I would like to debunk some allegations of motivation that I have met. Namely, that the main and only means of motivation is money. Money can be motivation, but only if it is an indicator of the success of the efforts made - the brain does not care how to determine that its efforts have reached the goal. An entrepreneur is motivated by money that is returned as a result of his marketing company. An employee receiving money on a piece-rate basis can be motivated by considering the money as an act of confirmation of a completed contract. But money transferred twice a month to an account and ringing SMS in an office cannot be motivation, because the brain does not see the correlation between its efforts and the autonomous process of money transfer. If someone wants to motivate workers with money, he must provide payments for each task, which converts the money into a kind of feedback, fitting into the above process. Exactly for the same reason, all kinds of causeless buns, cookies, sweets and corporate parties cannot be motivated. The only thing motivated by these awards is the desire for the same awards.

Often, fiery speech at a meeting is considered motivation, especially if the speaker is gifted with a speaker. Who, listening to William Wallace’s speech before the Battle of Stirling in Braveheart, doesn’t feel the strength to rush into battle? Who, listening to the speech of King Theoden before the attack on the army of Mordor, is not ready to shout “To death!” And rush to wet the reptiles? What is this if not motivation? Yes, this is motivation, but if you look closely, all this happens before the battle. On this motivation, you can leave the battle, but on such motivation you can not win the war. In our terminology, this is a task motivation, but it will quickly fade away if it is not supported by feedback after the heated wars leave the battle.

The only thing that gives motivation to work is a properly organized work.

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