#9 Simplifying the Model: Motivation Via Feedback And Responsibility

As we continue with Herzberg’s 1987 retrospective of his original 1950’s study...

Let’s start with the Hygiene factors.  The context that surrounds the actual doing of the job.  The basic message is still just to be fair to people AND don’t expect motivation in return. Enough said.

Now on to the Motivation factors. As a reminder the original study promoted

Achievement ( with some appropriate Recognition )
Responsibility (having the latitude to get it done)
Work Itself (enjoying the challenge and growth from just doing the job)
Advancement (movin’ on up the ranks)

In the 1987 update Herzberg pretty much covers the same ground. The noticeable change is that he's now more focused on practical application. Designing jobs that will motivate people.

And to simplify our work I’m going to look at the motivators out of order.

I’m going to start with Responsibility, which he describes the same way he did in his original work. Self scheduling, authority to communicate, control of resources, accountability. Pretty much getting the hell out of the persons way so they can be creative and get the job done. No real changes here.

Responsibility creates motivation
Responsibility creates motivation

Responsibility leads to Motivation.

Next up is “achievement and it’s recognition”. This was the big motivational kahuna back in the 1950’s study and it’s still the top dog. But, there’s been a change.  

As I mentioned earlier, Herzberg is now more focused on application. So Achievement has matured into “Direct Feedback”.  Meaning feedback from the client and the product itself. And by client he doesn't just mean external clients or your boss on the org chart. It's internal or external - whomever you provide a product or service for.  This is the steady flow of observations and collaborations that fuel your internal engine.  

So rather than just saying Achievement stokes Motivation, he's now telling you how to get Achievement. You need Direct Feedback from your environment, yourself, and others. That constant flow of ideas and observations that drives improvement and ultimately Achievement. So the idea hasn’t changed, he’s just being more direct. Motivation comes from achievement. Achievement comes from Direct Feedback. Get rid of the middle man and you're left with Direct Feedback spurs Motivation.

Feedback Creates Motivation
Feedback Creates Motivation

This also makes more sense to me because I often think of Achievements as bigger things. Things that happen after I've been motivated enough to do the work for a long time. In the trenches it's actually Direct Feedback that helps me grow and learn. Looking at my design and knowing something’s not quite right.  Giving myself that feedback and/or showing it to my coworkers and getting their feedback.  Somehow all this munging together and giving me or us a new insight. 

That’s exciting. That’s motivation.

So I’m pleased that Achievement is now Direct Feedback.

And this dovetails nicely into Herzberg’s discussion of another of the original motivators - Advancement. He actually lumps Advancement and growth together in the update and says…

“These translate into the central dynamic of new learning leading to unique expertise. The feeling of satisfaction is also indicated as a dynamic of learning from clients and products.”  

Which is almost identical to what we just covered in our Achievement/Direct Feedback discussion.  Advancement is all about new learning. And that new learning comes from clients and the product itself. They are the byproducts of our new hero - Direct Feedback.

Feedback Creates Motivation
Feedback Creates Motivation

As a side note, you'll also notice that he's no longer talking about advancement as a promotion.  I like that.  Actual promotions aren't a tool you get to use a lot in today's world. You can't promote everyone!

So this leaves us with one remaining mystery. What happened to Work Itself?  Enjoying the challenge and growth that comes from just doing the job?

As best I can tell it's also been consumed by Direct Feedback. The challenge and growth of just doing the job come from constructive Feedback!

Feedback creates motivation
Feedback creates motivation

So the Motivation side of the model has gotten simple, simple, simple. All that's left in my version is Achievement + Advancement + Work Itself have all morphed into Direct Feedback.     

And

Responsibility is still Responsibility

Herzberg updated motivation model
Herzberg updated motivation model

So our final Herzberg picture of Motivation at work would look like this.

Motivation on one half with Direct Feedback and Responsibility as sub-bullets. 

And then Hygiene on the other side with Fairness as a sub-bullet. 

Get Hygiene right and you’ll be thought of as fair and ethical.

Get Motivation right - by creating an environment that supports Responsibility and healthy Direct Feedback - and you’ll get new learning plus lots of satisfaction.  

A self-perpetuating machine that will drive a creative, productive workplace with low turnover. Paradise!!!

***NOTE: This site works best when you read the posts in order. So please head to the ARCHIVE to get started.