Money doesn’t motivate – or does it?

I have more than one client who says, “Money doesn’t motivate me.”  I have other clients who are motivated by money more than anything.

Obviously, we need money to provide for our families.  But there’s a very informative article at the Harvard Business Review that explores the impact of money on our motivations. Turns out that intrinsic motivation is three times more likely to drive job performance than extrinsic motivation – such as money.

Also, in study after study, job satisfaction and salary were found to have almost no correlation. Employees at the bottom half of the salary range were just as satisfied in their jobs as those in the top half.  And this wasn’t just true in the U.S.  The results were statistically similar in Taiwan, Australia, India, and Britain.

With this, I’d like to (again) shoot some holes in a belief held by many managers. The common thinking is, “Just pay people more and they’ll be happy and motivated.”

Be careful of bad psychology

As I’ve said for years, the idea that we can motivate other people is bad psychology.  The word motivation literally means, “a reason to move.” And, the truth is that people move for THEIR reasons, not yours.  For some people, money is a strong motivator. However, in almost 30 years of using assessments that identify people’s motivations, I can tell you that money doesn’t motivate the majority of people.

When I did my master’s thesis research on the importance of soft skills in middle managers, I was shocked to discover so many managers disregarding the intrinsic motivations of the people on their teams.

In order to save time here, I’m going to boil down the reason for that into one very simple phrase. Many managers won’t like hearing this, but it’s true:

They were lazy.

To believe that their employees would be motivated to work harder just by dangling more money in front of them was a one time “easy” decision. But not necessarily an effective one.

In truth, we can identify at least nine natural, or innate motivations, and 12 learned ones. And money is only one of those 12.  Managers who want to “motivate” their employees (to the use the common phrase) must learn what drives each employee. That takes effort. And to do it well, a manager must really want to know what drives each employee.  This is a core responsibility of being a manager. Unfortunately, this rarely gets taught in most management training.   If it does get taught, it’s usually only in passing.

I’m not saying money doesn’t motivate

I am not saying that money doesn’t motivate.  However, you must learn what drives each employee, and that means practicing emotional intelligence. To help you do that, feel free to download a complimentary copy of my latest book, 10 steps for improving your emotional intelligence.

The bottom line truth is that for most people, money doesn’t motivate. For some people it does. To create a motivated and passion-driven team, you must learn what drives each individual, and then put your emotional intelligence to work.

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How managers use emotional intelligence

If you’re wondering how managers use emotional intelligence, I suppose it depends on how effective those managers want to be. If they want to be top performers, they need to use it well.

All joking aside, there is a strong correlation between how managers use emotional intelligence and their performance ratings. Research in over 200 companies worldwide shows that in middle management positions, 2/3 of the difference between average performers and top performers is emotional intelligence. The news seems to be everywhere, such as this article in Inc. magazine about the best managers using EQ.

The question remains: How do they use it?

The EQ model provides a great foundational framework. It all starts with self-awareness. Managers need to know their strengths, their weaknesses, their personal goals and motivations, and also their behavioral and cognitive styles. The next step is self-management, which is capitalizing on their strengths and knowing where they need help — as well as when to back off. To quote a famous Clint Eastwood movie, a man’s got to know his limitations.

How managers use emotional intelligenceThe second level starts with social awareness – that is, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of everyone one your team. This is a core responsibility of management that is rarely emphasized in management schools. But know that understanding your people doesn’t happen by osmosis. A manager must become a student and strive to learn about the people on his or her team.

As I’ve observed in my 30 years of working with teams and team leaders, those who become students of their people are the most effective managers. Why? Because when they’re aware of each team members strengths, weaknesses, motivators, and their behavioral and cognitive styles, they know how each person performs best.

With that knowledge they can make better assignments and they get problems solved easier. It’s part of the relationship management quadrant of the EQ model.  All of this makes them more productive, effective, and profitable.

Yes – this is how managers use Emotional Intelligence.

Can you see its value?

Isn’t this what we expect from managers? Create productive, effective, and profitable workplaces?

And so, considering how managers use emotional intelligence to create engaged and effective teams, I strongly recommend all managers learn it.

Let me say this, too: If you’re a manager, you’re never too old or too young to learn EQ. The other day I read that you can’t learn EQ after your 40’s. My eyeballs kind of popped out when I read that! I’ve had lots of clients in their 50’s and 60’s who’ve learned EQ and put it to work right away with excellent results.

In closing, let me add that learning EQ is not difficult. I’ve been teaching it for nearly 30 years to a wide variety of people in many industries, and if you want to learn it, you can.

PS. No matter what your age, if you would like to give your EQ a boost, let me recommend my latest book, which I am giving away for free for a limited time – it’s titled 10 Steps for Improving Your Emotional Intelligence, and you get it free by clicking the image below:

Get your free book on emotional intelligence