Know what they are?
If you missed my first blog in this mini-series, get a fast primer here. Then get ready for a deeper dive – and read on below!
A Performance Motivator (PM) is basically an emotional need drive, or a desire that fuels us into actions to satisfy an emotional need, drive or desire.
Performance Motivators drive the decisions we make – from choosing everyday purchases to the bigger stuff of what we do in our entire lives. And, you guessed it – they drive what motivates us to do this, that or the other thing in our lives.
One important note: We all move through different “seasons” of our life, which means our PM is not set in stone but rather, can change over time.
Leaders, Why You Must Know About Performance Motivators
If you’re a leader reading this, why should you care?
Because Performance Motivators can empower you in a multitude of ways.
They can help you get:
- Better understanding into the decisions you personally make
- Insight into why a person chooses to work where they work
I have a simple concept: “It’s never about the money.” Now before you go crazy, let me explain. Of course, it is about the money – after all, most of us work to make money. Yet there are much deeper, more emotionally charged reasons for why we work and why we choose to work where we do.
Imagine you have two companies (Company A and Company B) side by side. On the outside, they look exactly the same:
- same distance from work
- compensation package they offer is the same
- job benefits are the same, too
- basically, there’s no difference financially to you
You’re still going to choose one over the other.
That’s where Performance Motivators come in – and why I’m going to spend the rest of this article sharing the more specific definitions of each of them.
Have You Taken Our Performance Motivator Quiz Yet?
Psst…If you haven’t already, take our Performance Motivator self-assessment to get instant personalized results. Encourage each member of your team to take the quiz too. You’ll be amazed at the new understanding of your team members that you gain:
- What motivates them?
- Why do they do what they do?
- What keeps them satisfied and happy?
- What makes them want to stay?
- What will make them want to tell their friends?
The beauty is that you can act on the insights you gain today, so you can enjoy the positive impact as soon as tomorrow – really!
From Impact Player to Structure Wiz, Meet the 6 PMs
There are six Performance Motivators. None of them are better than another; there is no “right” or “wrong.” And not all of us will fit neatly into a single definition.
Without further ado, let’s meet them all! Below I’m sharing a real-life story of each PM so you can get to know them better.
The Impact Player
His name is Kent; I like to call him Clark Kent because I believe that he is Superman…
It’s an average workday. I’m doing my normal thing.
I end up in the kitchen where there’s always a little collection of people enjoying casual conversation. There’s Kent getting his coffee, but he seems a little bit rushed, like something’s bothering him. Later on, I’m in my office going through all of my reports from the projects that we’re working on.
Kent sent me some reports to go through, so I wander over to his office to ask a few questions. He is still acting a little odd, but I can’t put my finger on why. Finally, he asks me, “How was the meeting that you had yesterday?” And I said, “Oh yeah, it was a very premature planning meeting for the business plan next year.”
Since it was preliminary, I explained, we’re going to have another one next week. “OK, great”, he says. “I was just wondering why I wasn’t included in the meeting”. And I said, “Oh, it didn’t even occur to me. I knew that you were involved in a really big project of ours, probably the most important that we have put together in a really long time.”
Kent was our CFO. Part of his job requires him to look at strategy and really put some creativity in the numbers to make sure that we can create a project that works.
I said, “Kent, I actually didn’t even consider it because you were so wrapped up in this very important project, it wouldn’t have even occurred to me to pull you off of that project, to have you in this preliminary meeting that wasn’t nearly as vital.” And he said, “Well, actually, it did bother me, I really thought I needed to be in that meeting.”
I was taken aback.
At the time, I realized that I could have done better…communicated differently…created a better understanding between us. I thought I was doing him a favor by not including him and not even communicating about it because I knew he was very focused on another major project.
Kent wasn’t going to take a position with a company where he is not at or at least right next to the helm: he needs to be part of the strategic planning, bringing his impact being a player in the in the ring. He wants to bring what he has and if two positions became available at the same time, he would never pick the one where he’s not in that position.
That’s when I first learned and realized that it’s never about the money. Sure, money is important – but it’s never the decision maker or the deal breaker, within reason.
Bottom line: The Impact Player wants to bring their value to the table. To know they’re being seen, recognized and valued for the critical pieces that affect the direction of the company – and their role in all of that. Make sure to include them so they feel valued.
The Change Champion
There are so many amazing Change Champions; many are very high level leaders. They focus on a bigger purpose: for mankind, the world, the earth, the planet, different cultures, different religions, you name it, they are in it for the purpose.
Right now, my daughter is in the season of her life where she wants to work for a company where she believes in the cause. She may or may not even like the everyday tasks that she handles.
But what’s more important to her is that she chooses a company that has a mission and a purpose that she believes in. These folks ask:
- What am I working toward here?
- What’s the impact I’m making?
- Are we getting anywhere?
- Am I a part of the cause?
If faced with a decision, Change Champions will always pick the company with the cause. They want to get behind everything the company stands for with that purpose in mind. Because it’s never just about the money. 😉
The Success Seeker
This type is unique because many times, they grow out of it. That drive to seek success doesn’t stick around forever.
A Success Seeker is ambitious, they want to achieve a lot (like me!):
- They’re looking for development and advancement opportunities.
- It’s not all about what their job title or responsibilities are.
- They just want to know that there’s a path to getting to that next level.
- And yes, they do want to be recognized!
Even if the money isn’t great right now, most of the time this is the person who will give up some of the money now, knowing that they’re in the place where they will get it later. A little bit of that success -seeking drive is always going to stay throughout life, but for many including myself, it stops being the #1 driver.
As I shifted through a different season of my life, things changed: Emotionally, I have different things that I want to have satisfied, and the Success Seeker doesn’t necessarily fulfill that fully anymore.
The Boundary Balancer
I personally went from Success Seeker to Boundary Balancer. And it’s not much different… Meet Monica, a lawyer. She was a client of mine and ended up going part time at her firm. She had children, a family – other things where she felt needed her time and energy.
She’s still a lawyer with so many things to bring to the table. It was just important for her to continue to contribute – which is why she went part time at her firm. She’s not doing it for the money, she’s doing it because she has a contribution to make.
She has a lot that she can contribute, and she wants to do that for herself and for her own fulfillment – while also being able to balance the other important things in her life.
Boundary Balancers are high quality people who bring a lot to the table. If you’re able to make those compromises and sacrifices to accommodate their needs, you can usually benefit tremendously as a result.
The Tribe Thinker
One of my favorites was Boomerang Bob. He didn’t start out as Boomerang Bob. He was just Bob, a great project manager. We even thought that he was a Success Seeker. He was always looking for the next thing he wanted.
Bob wanted to climb to the next level, he just wasn’t ready yet. One day, another company attracted him over to come work for them. And he did. He left because he was given a title that was a little bit fancier than the one he had with us, and that’s what he thought he had wanted for so long.
What was missing for him? He didn’t have any people around him anymore to:
- Support & be a resource
- Help & educate
- Keep him focused on the next level so that he could learn
Yes, he had a lot of potential to learn, but he realized how important his tribe was. He realized how important it was be in the company of supportive people.
Self-awareness was the big learning point with Boomerang Bob. Eventually he called us to ask if he could come back. When he returned, he began working harder than ever, and he also learned about himself.
He realized what he loved so much was his tribe. Once upon a time, Bob thought he was a Success Seeker. We assumed he was, too. Yet the real emotional driver for him was being part of a tribe.
The Structure Wiz
This is somebody who highly values job security. They want to stay in a position of responsibility, do that job well, contribute what they can, and then go home to all the other things that matter to them. These folks are loyal, responsible & committed – as long as they’ve got their financial/ job security.
Harry, for example, was one of our tried-and-true departmental purchasing managers. You could always count on him to get the job done well. But after-hours calls, weekends, etc., were a big NO for him. This type is not interested in rocking the boat – status quo is just fine.
Many a Structure Wiz fit the mold of another PM in a different season in life. Harry was a Success Seeker – that is, before he got married, moved his ailing mother in with him, and began doing mission work for his church.
Now that you’ve had a chance to “meet” each Performance Motivator, remember: If you’re not communicating to each of your people in the way they want to be motivated, then you’re actually working against yourself. Think about the consequences of that.
That’s why you need to take the Performance Motivator quiz today – and encourage your team members to take it too!