Dec 19, 2011
Seeing the staff presents under our office tree brought to mind how we will enjoy guessing and wondering what is in those bags next week as we lead up to our holiday pot-luck (which is enjoyed at least as much as the gifts). So much of the motivation to prepare for the holidays lies in the enjoyment of the anticipation itself.
As the end of the calendar rushes towards us, we can observe the power of the anticipation of rewards. Regardless of the season’s religious or secular appeal, a vast segment of society mobilizes to shop, decorate, bake, socialize, entertain and be entertained. People push themselves beyond their normal activity levels to do extra errands, extra events, and make special efforts to be more generous to our colleagues, family, friends, and even strangers. For many, the rewards for these activities are intrinsic: enjoyment of friendships, of sharing, and for some, the reward is a quiet pause during the holidays before we step again into the hurley burley of another year.
The lessons? Well, I think there are a few:
- While people may share in anticipating the reward, its value and meaning may differ with the individual;
- The motivation for extra effort lies not in the dollar value of the reward, but in its meaning;
- The deeper the meaning to individuals, the greater the anticipation of its culmination; and
- Shared anticipation multiplies the value placed on the reward.
Workplace motivation isn’t about giving people meaning in their lives. That is up to each individual to bring. But workplace motivation is about creating an environment that enables people to bring meaning to their work, and allows people to celebrate the anticipation of fulfilling that meaning.