Where’s Motivation Coming From? For You And Your Colleagues

In this episode, I dive into the intricacies of motivation, examining its sources and implications for individuals and teams alike.

Throughout this discussion, I explore the three fundamental pillars of motivation:

  1. Purpose
  2. Mastery
  3. Autonomy

Drawing from my experiences and insights, I unravel the complex dynamics at play and offer practical strategies for enhancing motivation in the workplace.

From aligning tasks with a greater purpose to empowering individuals with autonomy and opportunities for skill development, I share actionable tips to foster a culture of motivation and productivity.

Here are some of the key points:

  • Motivation sources: purpose, mastery, autonomy.
  • Purpose = meaning; mastery = improvement; autonomy = empowerment.
  • Beware: money can hinder complex task performance.
  • Prioritize intrinsic motivators for success.
Understanding the drivers of motivation, such as purpose, mastery, and autonomy, is pivotal for personal and professional fulfillment. Together, let’s empower each other to thrive in our careers and achieve our fullest potential. So, share this episode with your friends and colleagues who can benefit from this!


Where’s Motivation Coming From? For You And Your Colleagues 

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[00:00:00] Alexander: Welcome to another episode of the Effective Statistician. And maybe this sounds a little bit different than usual. [00:00:10] That’s because I’m using a new microphone. And I’m recording this basically on the road, so this may also give a little [00:00:20] bit of a different sound. A couple of things I want to talk about are the sources for motivation.[00:00:30] 

[00:00:30] Alexander: And this is a really important topic because it is important for you to basically do the things that you love and that [00:00:40] motivates you. And to understand where this motivation is coming from. And maybe also if you do certain things and you are not [00:00:50] motivated about them. Why are you not motivated? Where is the problem?

[00:00:58] Alexander: And, of course, it is [00:01:00] really important if you work with other people. And we all do. This is not just for supervisors. For them, of course, it is super important to [00:01:10] know what motivates your team, the people that report to you. It is also important when you work [00:01:20] with a cross functional team or when you work in a client vendor relationship.

[00:01:27] Alexander: It’s always better to work with [00:01:30] motivated people. It is. It usually leads to less problems people really want to succeed, so [00:01:40] they are more invested, they get more creative to find solutions, all these kind of different things. And overall, it’s just more [00:01:50] fun, yeah? What do you want to do all day?

[00:01:53] Alexander: Something that is motivating or something that is not? The answer is pretty clear. So [00:02:00] And there’s one thing that is really striking and that is money is usually [00:02:10] not a great motivator. So money has a, has a very, very interesting thing. It is a problem if [00:02:20] there is not enough money. Some people in HR call it, it’s a, it’s a hygiene topic.

[00:02:27] Alexander: Yeah. Yeah. You need to [00:02:30] take it off the table, because if it’s on the table, it kind of blocks everything else. But once it’s off the table, you don’t get [00:02:40] motivated by it. There’s actually research that if you work on complex tasks, and well, we all do a complex task [00:02:50] all day, and we are mostly paid for these complex tasks and not for the standard tasks, When you work on these complex tasks, [00:03:00] more money is actually harmful.

[00:03:04] Alexander: It leads to worse outcomes. And now you might think like, well, that [00:03:10] sounds like a really left wing, communist, socialist kind of idea, that more money is harmful. Well, it is about the [00:03:20] incentives. And the research from that is from a, I would say, probably one of the least communist [00:03:30] socialist organizations in the world, the FED, the Federal Bank of the US.

[00:03:39] Alexander: I [00:03:40] think we can assume that they are likely not communists or socialists. So they found out that money. If it is, [00:03:50] you know, the, the, the big incentivizer, then that leads to worse creativity and yeah, just worse [00:04:00] outcomes overall. So when it’s not money, and money is off the table, so everybody is paid well, and they can pay their bills, and [00:04:10] all these kind of different things, what is it then?

[00:04:14] Alexander: Now, there are three areas, and I will link to a [00:04:20] really, really nice video that summarizes all of that. It’s a cartoon from RSA about a book called Drive by Dan [00:04:30] Pink. Great video. If you love these kind of things, then have a look. It is where someone [00:04:40] Creates a cartoon and speaks to it. So, pretty, pretty nice.

[00:04:45] Alexander: So, the three things that are really important to drive your [00:04:50] motivation are first, purpose. Purpose means that you see why this is [00:05:00] important for a bigger reason. Maybe in our area it is because it helps patients, you know, we want to [00:05:10] work to make sure patients have access to better treatments, get better therapies can make better decisions about their [00:05:20] health, all these kind of different things.

[00:05:22] Alexander: Yet, there can be other things. And as a And purpose has this kind of interesting [00:05:30] side to it that you cannot define what is purpose for another person. Purpose comes from [00:05:40] within. You need for yourself to identify what is purpose for you, what makes sense for you, what is important for you. [00:05:50] However, that doesn’t mean that as a supervisor, as a leader, and I’m thinking here also in terms of leadership without [00:06:00] direct reports, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make an offer in terms of purpose.

[00:06:06] Alexander: You can say, well, we do this because we want [00:06:10] to make sure that We treat the right patients and not the wrong patients, because we want to do this because we want to reduce the side effects, [00:06:20] or we want to increase the response or whatever. Now purpose is the first thing. [00:06:30] The second thing is mastery.

[00:06:34] Alexander: Mastery means that we all want to get better at our craft. [00:06:40] That is something that really drives us and that motivates us. And it is you can see it, you know, all the [00:06:50] time if you go to a conference, yes, all these technical sessions. are packed with people from statistics, programming, data science, people want to learn [00:07:00] more about the latest tools, technologies, all these kind of different things.

[00:07:04] Alexander: They want to learn and, and apply it and improve it. People [00:07:10] love to improve their craft. They want to master their craft. And learning something new getting better at it. [00:07:20] That just means you need to have opportunity to become better at something. You need to have [00:07:30] something that challenges you, that where you can learn and apply something new, whether that is from a, Knowledge [00:07:40] point of view.

[00:07:40] Alexander: Maybe you learn about a new therapeutic area, or that is more from a statistical methodological point of view. You learn [00:07:50] more about patient designs or about multiplicity, or maybe it is more about the programming part that you learn more about R [00:08:00] or how you can apply certain more advanced techniques in SARS or R or what.

[00:08:06] Alexander: Whatever other, um, platform. [00:08:10] So, mastery is the second part. The third part is autonomy. Autonomy is [00:08:20] pretty clear. Whenever you have reported once to a micromanager, then you have the absence of autonomy. And that is really doing [00:08:30] motivating. There’s hardly something that is more motivating than being controlled all the time, or being told exactly [00:08:40] what to do.

[00:08:42] Alexander: Go there, move this, apply that, and you literally have no freedom [00:08:50] in terms of choosing what you really want to do. That’s a problem. Give people autonomy to [00:09:00] have it their way. Give them a goal instead of telling them exactly what to do. This [00:09:10] is much better leadership. So, in a summary, make sure that you offer [00:09:20] the people you work with purpose, that they understand the purpose, the bigger picture.

[00:09:25] Alexander: That they can improve their craft, that they [00:09:30] can become a better statistician, programmer, data scientist, and lastly, that they have the freedom to do it their way. [00:09:40] And of course, they need help, you know, then of course offer help. But this is really, really important. Always make sure that the people you work [00:09:50] with most of the time, fulfill these three things.

[00:09:54] Alexander: Purpose, autonomy, and mastery. And of course for yourself, have a look into [00:10:00] this. What are the things where one of these is lacking? These are probably the things where you’re very not, where you’re not motivated. [00:10:10] And where all three things come together, these are the things where you’re motivated. Have fun with this Further Friday episode.

[00:10:19] Alexander: [00:10:20] I hope that helps you to be more effective in your career.

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