#10 Help People Grow: My Interpretation of Herzberg's Motivation Theory

This is how I would summarize Herzberg's work in a single sentence.

BE FAIR TO PEOPLE AND HELP THEM GROW.

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Now we’ve mostly been talking about work, but isn’t this way more universal? This is how I want to treat my spouse, kids, parents, friends, employees, employer, everyone. And it’s also what I want them to do for me. When we clear away all the bullshit it’s probably about this simple. BUT, as always, the devil is in the details. So let’s get started on messing this simple thing up.

BE FAIR comes from the Hygiene Factors - the stuff that surrounds the actual doing of the work.  The policy manual, salary, perks, management etc. This is pretty straightforward stuff, with one exception.  I see lots of businesses with meticulous manuals and planning documents. Mission and vision statements on every wall, but behaviors that don’t match the writing.  The key with Hygiene is to actually live the talk. So as I begin to make this my own map, I want to add a single word to this side of the equation.  I want to change BE FAIR to BE FAIR DAILY.  Grand statements and acts are wonderful, but you have to make it happen in the trenches every single day.  That’s the real trick.  You must be fair DAILY!  And in order to add my pollution to the acronym world and to underscore the importance of this point - I’m going to use the acronym BFD.  Because this is a Big Freaking Deal! 

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Now on to the second half of my single critical sentence. 

HELP PEOPLE GROW comes from the Motivation Factors. To reinforce this point lets look at a little more of Herzberg's work. He always closed his questioning by asking “What did these events mean to you?”.  In other words, how do you interpret this feedback or increase in responsibility?  There was a clear favorite among the answers. It felt like a sign that the person still had a “possibility of growth”.  That they were still progressing and moving forward.

In Herzberg’s own words “a sense of personal growth and of self-actualization is the key to an understanding of positive feelings about the job”

So I’m going to get rid of the word motivation.  It feels a little abstract and generic.  I want you to help me grow, and I want to do the same for you. So I want to use the word growth, but in a memorable way.  I’m confident I can remember Help Growth Happen (HGH).  Yes, human growth hormone has some bad stuff around it, bit it’s my map and it’ll be easy for me to remember. So it stays.

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Here’s my new map. 

The outer circle represents your work. On the left side of the circle you have Be Fair Daily (BFD). On the right side of the circle you have Help Growth Happen (HGH).

Simple enough, and I thank Herzberg for helping me better understand motivation. I especially thank him for teaching me about Hygiene factors. The FAIR side of the circle that is critical, but CAN’T lead to motivation.  That was news to me. It helps explain unsettled feelings I’ve had in the past about various jobs.  How I could be motivated but still feel like a fish out of water. We’ll have to explore that some other time because I’m done for today.

And by the way, I’m excited. Hat tip to Herzberg for a great foundation, but this map is now all mine…

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