Sunday, October 11, 2009


Just to add my view to the plethora of knowledge concerning motivation, the Army provides an interesting study in how people can be motivated.

During a deployment, given that most people have no chance of changing rank, how does leadership continue to motivate people?

Whether you work your hardest, or barely show up at all, you make the same amount of money. Further, all of your peers at your pay grade who have been in for the same amount of time make the same amount of money. What is worse, people who have been in longer than you, but do far less work and are far less proficient, may make much more than you. There are no performance-related bonuses or incentives. So money seems not to be a factor in motivation. If anything, it takes away motivation, as people who are otherwise motivated see the discrepancies in pay based on value added.

Further, I know that after this deployment, my military career will be over as I am not re-enlisting. Therefore, any desire for advancement cannot be a motivating factor for me.

So if money and advancement are not used as an incentive to get people to work harder, than what else could there be?

There are several things that motivate me each day to wake up early and either drag myself through the desert into an office or out onto a flight line to go somewhere and work a long, tiring, and sometimes monotonous day.

The first is a sense of mission and ownership of my job. I know that the actions that I do have a direct impact on other people's lives. If I thoroughly plan, I know that things will go much better for my bosses, my fellow soldiers, and the people we interact with.

Recognition is another motivator. People can see that impact that I have, and they acknowledge it. People come on missions with me, and see the extent of planning, preparation, and confidence I have in my tasks, and note their approval. Little statements such as "you think of everything," "wow, how did you know that would happen," etc go a long ways. This confirmation by peers of a job well done is an extraordinarily strong motivator for me.

Pride and self-actualization are other motivators as well. Seeing my own work and knowing that it was the best I could do is a wonderful feeling. However, without the previous motivators this one could easily fall by the wayside through becoming discouraged.

So if these motivators can make a person strive to achieve excellence in a job as demanding as a deployment to a combat desert environment, imagine what they could do in many other industries.