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Jamie Lawrence


Insights Director

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Twenty emotions and feelings that drive motivation


Sense of autonomy – that the job you’re doing is yours and yours alone, and that while others may have ultimate control over the bigger picture you are the master of your own world

Desire for mastery – a feeling that everything you do, learn and see increases your capabilities, worth and skills as a human feeling. Best encapsulated in a quote by French psychologist Émile Coué de la Châtaigneraie, “Every day and in every way I’m getting better and better.”

Sense of purpose – your actions in the workplace contribute to self-identified reasons for your existence and, by the same taken, you recognise your own purpose in the organisation’s future

Recognition of self-efficacy – you recognise your own skills and – crucially – know how they allow you to do your job more effectively than someone who lacks these skills. Recognition that your employer knows what your skills are and why these make you primed and perfect for the job.

Feelings of familial contribution – everything you do on a daily basis flows into something bigger that ultimately creates a better life for your family. A sense that it’s worth doing your best on every little thing to make sure the familial contribution you make from your job is maximised

Understanding of individual importance – you’re an essential part of the machine, a cog difficult to replace, and your superiors understand you’re an important cog. Douglas Copeland said some people “pretend to be more eccentric than [they] actually are because [they] fear [they] are an interchangeable cog” – you don’t feel the need to act like anything other than who you are, because it’s who you are and what you can do that’s important

Clear sense of impact – understanding where and how your work positively impacts the organisation and how your direct impact helps propel the organisation to success. There’s a clear chain of impact that all starts from your own hand – your client service makes a particular client happy, who then provides a valuable testimonial and re-books, and that testimonial helps the company win another client.

Self-referential appreciation of job meaning – your job is a powerful part of your sense of self and contributes to the overall feeling of confidence, well-being and drive that makes life worth living. The job is not something you do only to pay the rent but something undeniably tied into your physical and emotional self.

Confident of future rewards – incentives are powerful and prospect of future rewards motivate you to be the best you can be today. You’re aware the organisation has a culture of both tangible and intangible rewards and also aware that human beings need both. Work hard today and you’ll be rewarded tomorrow – you know this, the organisation knows this, and the culture reflects this

Reflection of goals and ideas within social desirability – that your ideas, aspirations and goals are seen as socially desirable by other workers, and that you are not battling against a culture, personality or system that intrinsically sees your way of doing things as undesirable.

High internal locus of control – a sense that you can influence the workplace around you and mould your actions, responsibilities and future in a way that aligns with your future goals, desires and needs. A sense that you’re not simply a puppet to help achieve the future financial success and self-improvement of superiors and that you are able to influence them as they can influence you.

Perceived ability to access rich and deep information – a sense that no avenue of information flow within the organisation is closed off to you and that superiors are willing and waiting to furnish you with the information you need – often sensitive information, but that doesn’t matter because they trust you – to do your job to the highest standard

Goal alignment with organisation – that you’re not trying to steer the boat left when the organisation is trying to go right. That everything you do flows in the same direction as the organisation and that everyone is rowing skilfully and strongly, building the intrinsic power of the organisational vehicle and making sure it’s moving towards the same goals and triumphs.

Feelings of peer approval – that your colleagues, superiors and those you manage approve of you personally and professionally and feel that the way you work is socially positive and fits in with the needs of the organisation.

Recognition of organisational jurisdictions – that resentment or uncertainty is never a problem because you understand precisely what you are responsible for, what you own and what you manage, and who is responsible for areas that you’re not. Clearly-defined remits are standard across the whole organisation and you’re never frantically second-guessing who’s responsible for a task or actio

Constant envisioning of a more attractive future – that the now is just the springboard to a better personal and professional future and that this view is shared across the entire organisation. That everything you do is helping to build the picture of this better future and that even when, as is always the case in business, you have to take a step back, you know you’ll soon take two forward because you can’t not succeed in an organisation where everyone eagerly anticipates the spoils of tomorrow.

Contentment with structural distances – that the working relationships with your superiors and colleagues are perceived as suitable by all sides, and that the physical and emotional distances cause comfort rather than friction, helping to promote friendship as well as an effective and transparent working environment.

Sense of resource-richness – you’ve got the tools at your disposal to do the job you want and need to do. These tools are high-quality, maintained and updated when you need them to be – they make your job and life easier and, crucially, improve the quality of your work and help you differentiate yourself and the business from competitors.

Mastery of time – that the working day runs on your own agenda rather than running away from you and that you feel able to take the time you truly need to complete tasks, with a clear understanding on how and when you’ll spend your time in the near future. That your use of time is socially and professionally respected by bosses and colleagues.

Standing on the shoulders of giants – that you’re reaching further towards perfection than competitors , and that you’re mobilising the knowledge, ideas and breakthroughs that have come before you to propel your skills, output and the company to a new plane of innovation and achievement

One Response

  1. Engaging the brain

    Agree with this list. it is consistent with whatthe brian science is telling us about motivation and engagement. this video summarises the science and the implications for leaders and HR.

    We see many organisations spending money on measuring engagement but speanding a lot less money on doing something about it. This is where the value is and the science can help narrow down the range of things to tackle and get at root cause rather than symptoms. 

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Jamie Lawrence

Insights Director

Read more from Jamie Lawrence