In my first I.T. job I worked for Ray Stride at Microknowlogy. He once asked me "what does Microknowlogy owe you?"
I responded with a laundry list that included career guidance and opportunities... and he gently cut me off with "We owe you a regular check and a safe working environment.", continuing with "It's in our interests to help you with all these things, but you owe that to yourself".
Over the years I have worked for a number of really good companies. Partly because of Ray's advice I have tried to focus on empowering myself (and motivating others ) on the basis of mutual enlightened self-interest. I have been thinking though about what I need how this would translate into a framework for identifying my mix of needs, and the needs of others.
Hearts, Gold, Stars, and Wings
I believe that we each have a maintenance as well as a desired level of each of these factors, and that:
- There is no right and wrong. Each person's levels are unique and valid.
- They may also change over time. Perhaps I have a financial burden that requires me to place a higher value on compensation at this time.
- If I can't reach a minimum threshold on a measure, no amount of oversupply on another will make me fulfilled (and at my most productive). For example, if I am helping a company with a product that violates my values, paying me stupid-money won’t make me fulfilled at work.
- As a manager of an unhappy employee, work out which of these is is in deficit. Try and address the right issue, because fixing another may not help either of you.
- This is all experiential. How my company, my management and my colleagues see themselves, and their relationship with me is almost irrelevant.
Here's is how I think I map.
In 1998 I had a colleague in South Africa who said to me "we never get any recognition around here". I replied with something tender like "Well you get a paycheck don't you?" Not my finest hour. Clearly some stars were in deficit. Just because I don't need stars, doesn't mean that this person wasn't feeling unappreciated.
I realize that there are a more motivators (such as the work itself, responsibility, advancement, personal growth), and demotivators/hygiene factors (such as company structure, supervision, subordinates, work-life balance, status), but it seems to me that when I look at myself and others, the simplicity of the four categories makes sense.
I'd love some feedback on this, in particular:
- What am I missing?
- It this overly simplistic? What is missing?
- Is there a value in exploring disconnects between people and their employers?
Feel free to personally/publically contact me with ideas or criticisms.