Monday, April 11, 2011

What's Your Mind set?

Before we get back into X vs. I type of motivation, lets add a little twist and find out what kind of mind set you have.  Don't worry it is a simple test, for each question simply answer Truth or False
1.       You are a certain kind of person; no matter what you do you can’t change that.
2.       You can always change substantially
3.       You can do things differently but the core of who you are remains the same.
4.       You can always change the basic things.

Ok, so now the results if you said true to 1 & 3 then you have a fixed mind set.  People with fixed mind set believe that DNA rules your abilities.  You are either smart or you are not, the world is concrete, black and white.  If you believe 2 & 4 then you have a growth mind set.  Those with growth mindsets believe that with enough effort you can grow to become whatever you wish.   The belief that your intellegence is the same a a muscle the more you use it the stronger it becomes.  It is important to know your type of mind because then you know what kinds of goals to set.  People with a fixed mind set like performance goals while growth mindset people perform better with Learning Goals. So what's the difference?  A performance goal would be to get an "A" in spanish class while a learning goal would be to be able to have a conversation in Spanish.   A learning goal focuses on the process and the outcome of mastering the subject not the concrete world of grades.  Learning goals will drive type X people crazy because there is never a definitive answer, it is the pursuit of mastering something.  The problem is that we can never truly master anything, because the better we get at it, the more we realize that we haven't fully mastered it yet.  Take for example learning to play an instrument, after years of practice some people get very good and might even be considered world class and yet if you ask them they are still trying to refine certain techniques or learn new arrangements.  Learning is a journey not a destination and that is the challenge for a type I person, it is exactly that pursuit of mastery that feeds them.  They thrive on knowing they have accomplished another step on the journey and that they have mastered another small piece of the puzzle. 

Whether you are an X or an I, the problem is that believing anything is possible is different than making things happen.  It all starts for both kinds of people with the initial awareness of a possibility and deciding that it is worth pursuing.  Once you have decided to take pursue a possibility then you have to match the right kind of goal, for your personality, with the task to be accomplished.  What is the task to be accomplished?  Is is a routine task and you are just trying to take the next step?  For example, is the goal a 10% increase in productivity or a large create a new program?  What kind of reward matches your personality better?  Are you the kind of person who thrives on if you get a 10% increase in productivity then you will receive a bonus of $1,000?  Or do you thrive when the goal is to create a new program in a new sphere and to accomplish it you will need to learn and master a new area of knowledge?  You see "X" personalities love "if/then" rewards because they know exactly what they need to accomplish to earn the reward but "if/then" rewards actually make "I" personalities less productive, it feels "all about the money".  If you are going to bonus a "I" then it needs to be a "now/that" reward.  "Now, that" you created this amazing new program here is a reward?  The caution here is that if you consistently give "Now/That" bonuses then they will be come "if/then" bonuses as the person figures out.  If I do this, I will get a bonus (this is the problem with Christmas bonuses).  So, the moral of the story is to know yourself and the type of goals that line up with your mindset and personality.  Regardless of the mind set or personality accomplishing great things still takes a ton of grit and determination, but that's another topic for another day. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Motivation to match your personality...we are not all the same!

Back to that difficult, tricky topic of motivation.  Let's do a little historical review of motivation.  We all come with a basic motivation or drive based on our survival.  We have that primal drive for food, water, rest and yes expanding the species (we are going to avoid the conversation of whether some people are increaseing or diluting the gene pool with certain combinations).  We are all hard wired with the drive or motivation to find food (apparently some more than others) and to sleep to allow our bodies time to recover.  Things start getting tricky after we get past this first level of motivation.  For years it was thought that besides this primal drive there was really only one other source of motivation,  'the good old carrot and stick' motivation.  If you want to promote increased motivation you simply dangle a carrot or reward out in front of the person and we blindly go after the carrot, but if we don't move there is always the stick to poke us or smack us (negative feedback).  And so it has gone for hundreds of years, we either put a reward (carrot) out in front or we stand ready with the stick to punish bad behavior, but that motivation came from external sources.  A couple of  'out of the box' thinking pshycologists started floating out ideas that maybe humans had another type of drive or motivation that was not related to environment, primal drives and wasn't tied to external drives (carrots & sticks).   As with anyone who questions "what we know" these ideas were laughed off for several decades.  But a couple of brave new psychologists picked up the research and dusted it off.   They did some very interesting research that showed not only do "carrots and sticks" (external rewards) not alway work but that sometimes they actually DECREASE performance.  Imagine that the very thing that is supposed to motivate us actually decreases outcomes, but how can this be?  Does it always apply?  Is it time to throw away carrots and sticks? 

It turns out that as with all things the type of motivation necessary depends on the type of person and the task to be completed.  They found that external rewards work for certain people and certain tasks.  There are certain people out there who are motivated by external rewards.  They are the Donald Trumps of the world, if he does a certain deal he can make a certain amount of money, the higher that amount the more motivated he is to accomplish it.  Now, obviously, there are certain very successful people out there in this category.    External rewards have also been shown to be beneficial when a task is redundant. But, there is another group of people who actually perform worse when there is a bonus on the line. If the task is to be creative then external rewards can actually decrease performance.  For example, if you commission a painting and want the most creative piece of work imaginable and you offer a bonus for finishing early, the research has shown a decrease in the quality of the painting because the painter is now focused on the bonus, not creating the best piece of art possible.  It seems that this group is actually more motivated by internal rewards than external rewards.  These people do things because they want to demonstrate mastery.  The prefer autonomy over schedules and tasks to the highest financial gain.  The best reward for them is recognition as a Master and honored for their accomplishments.  They crave that internal sense of knowing that they have conquered the task with a creative solution, especially if it is one that no one else had or saw.   Now, these people are fine with increased income but as a secondary accomplishment to creating something unique.  These people prefer unexpected 'Now, that' rewards.  "Now that you accomplished this great thing here is a Reward." but you have to be careful with these if they become expected then they become the external "if, then" rewards.

So, are you an "X" motivated by external rewards or an "I" motivated by internal rewards?  (We won't worry about the "P"s that are motivated by Primal Drives as they won't be reading this any how).  Is the task that you need to do creative or routine?  The best way to get motivated for a task is to match you personality to your task at hand and set up the right type of reward. 

If you want to read an amazing book about the research in this field check out "Drive: the surprising truth about what Motivates us." by Daniel H. Pink.