Finding Total Motivation


Do you love going to work every day? When Sunday rolls around, are you excited to head to the office the next morning? Does the work you get to do inspire you?

Hopefully, you answered yes to these questions and if you asked your employees the same questions, they would answer yes as well. No one wants to dread going to work every day. If we don’t enjoy what we do, it significantly effects our motivation and performance, which has an effect on the department and even company that we work for.

In their book, Primed to Perform, Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor discuss the notion of Total Motivation. Through research, they have identified three key factors that greatly influence our motivation. The first is Play. Doshi and McGregor explain Play occurs when you’re engaging in an activity simply because you enjoy doing it. The work itself is its own reward.

“Play at work should not be confused with your people playing Ping-Pong or foosball in the break room. For your people to feel play at work, the motive must to fueled by the work itself, not the distraction. Because the play motive is created by the work itself, play is the most direct and most powerful driver of high performance.”

Simple enough. If your employees love what they do, they will be highly motivated to work hard, but they will also have fun in the process. In the end, this creates a positive work culture.

The second contributing factor to motivation is Purpose. The authors explained that purpose occurs when you do an activity because you value the outcome. You may not enjoy the work, but you value the impact.

“You feel the purpose motive in the workplace when your values and belief align with the impact of the work. Apple creates products that inspire and empower its customers, a purpose that is compelling and credible. The medical devices that Medtronic makes saves lives; when its engineers and technicians see their products in action, it has a powerful effect on them.”

As campus recreation professionals, chances are many of your staff find purpose in their work. Helping students develop and engage in healthy, active lifestyles and enhance their overall wellbeing can be very motivating.

The final contributing factor to motivation is potential. This is when you do work because it will eventually lead to something you believe is important. For example, someone who is on a diet, may not enjoy the actual work of dieting, but it will lead to an outcome that they are looking for, whether that is weight loss, the ability to run faster, increased strength, etc.

“We call play, purpose and potential the ‘direct’ motives because they are the most directly connected to the work itself. As a result, they typically result in the highest levels of performance. If you remember one thing from Primed to Perform, it should be that a culture that inspires people to do their jobs for play, purpose and potential creates the highest and most sustainable performance.”

So, if you find that you and some of your staff are struggling with motivation, maybe consider the reason behind the work you do. Are you doing what you love? Are you doing a job that aligns with your values? Are you proud of what your department is trying to accomplish?

Or, you could just read Primed to Perform.

Emily Harbourne was a previous editor for Campus Rec Magazine.

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