Understanding Employee Motivation: Navigating Diverse Work Styles for Team Success

What makes you tick doesn’t necessarily work for everyone else!

Have you ever worked with someone who was so driven by bottom-line results, that, according to your perception anyway, they continuously ran over their coworkers (maybe even you) in pursuit of success?  To you, it seemed like they unnecessarily treated every interaction as a competition, a chance to debate or show off their intellectual or personal dominance over others. Or maybe their extreme drive for success resulted in the bending of rules, the loose interpretation of policies, or the ignoring of organizational norms… doing anything to get ahead. Or maybe it was a combination of multiple (or even all) of these perceived transgressions.

But what if YOU were that highly driven person, motivated by performance and it seemed to you that someone you work with was so set on following a structured, analytical path that it left no room for innovation or breakthrough thinking?  Maybe, in your eyes, your coworker was so set on maintaining the status quo of how the organization CURRENTLY operates (which may be very well), that you can almost predict a certain dip in FUTURE performance or opportunities. In your mind, the organization’s lack of focus on bottom-line results will surely result in its people becoming stagnant, disengaged, and apathetic.

Well, consider this scenario. You might be a performance-driven person or perhaps more process-oriented. Now, imagine encountering a third type of coworker. This individual focuses intensely on ensuring everyone’s perceived personal growth or happiness. In this situation, the organization might end up overlooking important organizational productivity metrics. So, what happens then? Or in an attempt to encourage a sense of belonging, the organization, from your perspective, is inconsistent in the application of rules and policies on a case-by-case basis if it means that everyone feels content.

Work Environment and Employee Motivation

diverse group of workers around a table in an office

We know that there are multiple variations of workstyle approaches, but these three different examples underscore how differently each of us can view the same work environment. We’ve seen it, we’ve experienced it. And if our approach was different than one of the aforementioned extreme examples, there is a high probability that it led to conflict with one or more of the other described individuals.

The good news is that we ALL have a concern for people, processes, and performance, even if we may lean more heavily into one focus area over the others.

Several years ago, I underwent training and received certification in a tool named Core Strengths. It’s an instrument that helps users evaluate not only their strengths (and overdone strengths), but also their work-related motivations under two conditions… when times are going well and when in conflict.  The premise for a piece of the assessment that focuses on motivations is that, as I mentioned, we all have a concern for people, processes, and performance. It’s what Core Strengths calls our Motivational Value System (MVS). The combination of our percentages of respective concern weighted toward those three areas can greatly determine how we interact with others daily.

The Motivational Value System

For example, under normal or good working conditions, my MVS lands in a region we call the “Hub”. That is to say, I have a pretty equal distribution of concern for people (27%), process (35%), and performance (38%), but clearly leaning towards performance. It is something that I have always known about my approach, my learning style, my leadership style, and any number of other personality descriptors. But something else that I know is that when under stress or in conflict, my style becomes much more assertive, directive, and in worst-case scenarios, confrontational!  My focus steers away from a balanced approach to people and processes and becomes more rooted in performance.

There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, there’s nothing patently wrong with whatever your MVS is, regardless of whether we are assessing your starting or ending points. It simply means that I, you, and anyone else use the approach that works best for them. However, when approaches clash with those of seemingly well-intended colleagues, we must attune ourselves to the possible fallout.

I have found that knowing your MVS and being able to openly discuss this with your teammates is half the battle when it comes to establishing and maintaining healthy working relationships.

X-Factor Solutions can help you and your team members understand your respective MVS and how it may be impacting your team dynamics, productivity, conflict, and overall relationships. Contact us today to learn more!


Image by Colin Behrens from Pixabay.