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Intrinsic motivation

How do you use competency models to motivate employees that may not be motivated by the organization’s mission?

A competency model defines what each person in their role needs to be able to do, specifically, in order to perform their part of corporate strategy.

But it also defines what it looks like to be great in that role.  If you look at the research, for example, Dan Pink’s research in DRIVE, it is a human characteristic to be motivated to mastery.  It’s why we work on our golf game or learn musical instruments for fun.  It’s why open source software and Wikipedia exist.

How you use competency models to motivate employees that may not be motivated by the organization’s mission is that you make the competency model accessible, and assessable.  Once someone sees what they “should” be able to do (in the competency model), and they assess themselves against it and become aware of any gaps, they want to fix it.  It is a totally different dynamic when you want to fix something, versus when someone else wants you to do it.  Intrinsic motivation is the most effective and creates the best environment for learning transfer to occur. 

If you motivate someone to be great in their job, and the competency model defines what they need to be able to do in order to perform their part of corporate strategy, then by default, using competency models will drive the organization’s mission, even if they are not motivated by the mission itself.

 

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How do we motivate employees to take charge of their development? How do we hold them accountable?

(Question posted by participants in recent webinars)

This is an easy one.  Stop doing it FOR them.  Stop doing learning TO them. Stop dragging people to what YOU think they should do.  They then have 2 choices:  own their development, focusing on what they want and need, with the tools they have for doing it.  Or get passed by for promotions, and maybe even keeping the job, if they don’t have the skills (which are probably changing) and keep up. If they don’t do it, someone else will.  They either want to grow, or they don’t.

You can’t change the motivation of a complacent employee.  Only they can do that.  But if everyone around you becomes more engaged and learning new things, and having better conversations with their manager, and getting new challenges or even new positions, and you’re not… well, maybe that will change their intrinsic motivation. 

If they are close to retirement, and they lack the motivation to learn something new, make them a lead player in knowledge transfer and in being a task-based mentor to others.  Have others shadow them.

Another technique is to embed development into everyday work.  If the only things you offer are formal learning, including eLearning, you’re going to lose a lot of people who don’t respond to it.  Workflow and social learning are two of the ways millennials happen to learn best.  When I say workflow or experiential, these are job aids, check lists, skill practices (which we think work great), and performance support.  In other words, “help me learn while I’m doing the thing I need to do.“

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