What drives your performance at work? This is an important question that we should all ask ourselves at multiple points in our career. To be honest, it wasn't until 30 years old that I understood even the beginnings of what drove me.
I have found that financial rewards are not the driving force for my performance. Although I am keen to make more money, money alone does not make my work meaningful. Rather than the monetary motivations, a reflection on the past decade of my employment has shown that I am happiest and most engaged when the workplace allows me to take on assignments that push my skills and knowledge to their limits. Although there are always parts of me that want to be rewarded for success, whether that is through things like recognition or more freedom to take on self-generated projects, the reason I accept this system lies partially in my fit with the organization.
Peluso, Innocenti, and Pilati (2016) highlight monetary/non-monetary rewards and discuss a total reward system (TRS) under the umbrella of human resource management (HRM) practices. They state that there is a relationship between TRS and “positive outcomes at both the individual and organizational levels,” citing ideas such as commitment, innovative work behavior, and job satisfaction. My organization, although not offering outstanding financial rewards, has had the where-with-all to listen to my proposals and provide me with the support to carry them out. This has added a huge motivation for me to go beyond the base requirements of my contract.
HRM practices devoted to talent development should aim to adopt a differentiated HR architecture that builds employee commitment to the organization (Stewart, 2012). This is especially true today within a work climate where it is not uncommon for people to switch jobs or even careers, as noted by Scullion and Collings (2011). In other words, if the organization cannot provide opportunities, challenges, or career mobility within the organization, it should be no surprise that workers may feel an itch to jump ship or lose motivation within the organization. So, how do they do this?
Well, one way in the research is assessing cultural fit in the organization (Stahl, et al., 2007; Stewart, 2012). David Collings provides great examples of this “match” or “mismatch” from his lecture via the study by Groysberg, McLean, and Nohria (2006). Pertaining to the hiring of former GE execs into new companies, the author’s found an increase in returns for companies of around 14% when culture and skill set are matched, but a negative return of nearly 40% when they were mismatched. An important thing to take away from all this is that both the company and employees have the responsibility to assess the fit of talent within the position and the organizational culture surrounding it (Fisher & Wilmoth, 2017). A key takeaway from this thinking about how you fit into your organization and if your aims/goals match theirs.
Look beyond what monetary rewards the company can offer you and ask yourself what really drives your performance. I believe this relates back to what Dr. Craig Nathanson (see https://drcraignathanson.com/the-joyful-roadmap/) says about “joyful work.” A great way to find what drives your performance and makes you happiest is to reflect on your work history. When were you happiest? What were the catalysts (conditions, events, people) to that happiness? Do you have that now? Perhaps then a clearer picture will emerge.
Feel free to share your answers to these questions in the comments below.
Fisher, E. M., & Wilmoth, M. C. (2018). Do I take the job?: Assessing fit with the organization. Journal of Professional Nursing, 34(2), 82-86.
Groysberg, B., McLean, A. N., & Nohria, N. (2006). Are leaders portable?. Harvard Business Review, 84(5), 92.
Henry Stewart (Producer). (2012). David Collings: Talent management [Video file]. Retrieved from http://hstalks.com.ezproxy.liv.ac.uk/main/view_talk.php?t=2206&r=587&c=250
Peluso, A. M., Innocenti, L., & Pilati, M. (2017). Pay is not everything: Differential effects of monetary and non-monetary rewards on employees’ attitudes and behaviours. In Evidence-based HRM: A Global Forum for Empirical Scholarship, 5(3), 311-327.
Scullion, H., & Collings, D. G. (Eds.). (2011). Global talent management. Abington, UK: Routledge.