Most studies I’ve seen affirm that you don’t always have to use money or tangible rewards to motivate others. In fact, I think it’s true that you can’t motivate others at all because motivation is intrinsic and individual. What motivates me to do my best may not be the same as what motivates someone else.
Motivators may include a desire to do one’s best, to impress, to move up the ladder, to earn money, to help others, to show off one’s skills or knowledge, to get even, to leave a legacy, to receive recognition or many other reasons. I do the best I can at what I do because the quality of the work and the potential positive impact on others drives me. A paycheck is nice, too. Still, I really enjoy an occasional “attaboy” from others. If I’m running low on gas, it tends to fill my tank.
I was reminded of this recently when organizing an annual awards process related to the internal social network I manage. We have several individual and group awards where nominees and recipients are determined by community vote. Through the positive reactions of those nominated and those who won the awards, it is evident that the recognition of their peers means something to them. And it should. A chunk of the remainder of my week will go to writing personal notes to the winners and sending them their award. We’ll keep their achievement prominently displayed online until next year’s awards.
Personally, it’s been nice this year to have a regular flow of external recognitions of the work I’ve done leading our internal community. I’ve been asked to present webinars for other companies’ community managers, to speak at conferences, interviewed by authors in the process of writing books and research reports, to document a case study of what we’ve done for other companies to use as a model, and this Friday I’ll be interviewed for a Wall Street Journal article. Those are all nice strokes that fill the gas tank and help motivate me to continue to do what I love. I’m not alone in being boosted by occasional recognition.
Leap year lesson #152 is Positive recognition can mean a lot.