Review: What Motivates Me – Put Your Passions to Work by Adrian Gostick & Chester Elton

what motivates meThis review first ran in the Nov. 24 edition of The Hamilton Spectator.

What Motivates Me: Put Your Passions to Work

By Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

The CultureWorks Press


The results of my motivators assessment won’t surprise anyone who’s had the pleasure of my company.

According to the assessment, I dislike bureaucracy and red tape. I’m not always a faithful follower of processes and procedures.

Routine work leaves me bored. Being told how to do my job leaves me surly. Sticking with the status quo leaves me frustrated.

When given marching orders, I invariably ask why the work’s important and wonder if there’s a better way to get the job done.

I toss out an inexhaustible and sometimes exhausting volley of unconventional ideas from left field.

In my world, reason trumps empathy.

When given the choice, I’ll work on my own rather than join a team.

And I have my moments when I’m overly controlling and suffering from an acute case of know-it-all-ism syndrome.

So what’s the upside to having people like me on the payroll?

Apparently, we can be the “lifeblood of innovation” in an organization.  We’re driven to constantly put new stuff out into the world. Ease up on the rigid rules, give us the time and space to discover and pursue ideas and odds are good that we’ll hit you some homeruns.

If these characteristics sound familiar, then welcome to the tribe called thinkers. We’re one of five workplace identities defined by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, authors of What Motivates Me: Putting Our Passions to Work and founders of a global training and consulting company that builds high-performance work cultures.

Along with thinkers, you’ll find achievers, builders, caregivers and the reward-driven at work.  Each identity has its own cluster of related motivators. For thinkers, our core motivators are autonomy, creativity, excitement, impact, learning and variety. For achievers, their motivators are challenge, excelling, ownership, pressure and problem solving.

The authors worked with a team of psychologists and behavioral scientists who identified 23 workplace motivators by mining a decade worth of workplace surveys completed by more than 850,000 people.

What’s the value in discovering our personal motivators? “When people’s jobs give them the opportunity to do more of the kinds of things that satisfy their key motivations, they are happier and more engaged in their work,” say Gostick and Elton. “Yet in so many instances, people know they aren’t completely content at work, but they just can’t seem to get clarity about what’s really dissatisfying or what would get them more engaged.”

Beware of playing to your strengths while ignoring your motivators. What you’re great at may not be what motivates and engages you. “Our greatest strengths may not align that well with what we’re motivated by. Many people find themselves going into a line of work more because they’re good at the fundamental skills it requires than because they are really drawn to the nature of the work itself.”

There’s also a big payoff for leaders when they better understand what motivates their team beyond mandatory fun days in the office and year-end bonuses. “One of the best and simplest ways for leaders to help their team members be more successful and accomplish more is to have them understand their motivations and do just a little sculpting of the nature of their jobs or tasks to better match duties with passions. This can uncover subtle changes that can lead to big increases in morale, engagement and results.”

That’s good news for anyone who’s dissatisfied, disengaged and stuck in a rut. You don’t have to quit your job, hit the reset button and start over in a new career. “Many of the happiest people we’ve spoken with didn’t find their bliss down a new path; they made course corrections on the path they were already on,” say Gostick and Elton.

The online motivators assessment takes about 20 minutes to complete. You’ll get a spot-on summary of what turns you on and off at work. The book then highlights the working conditions where you’ll thrive, offers strategies for tweaking your job and flags blind spots and potential conflicts that can derail your career.  What Motivates Me is highly recommended for anyone who’s wrestling with two age-old questions – what is it that motivates me and what can I do about it?

Published by

Jay Robb

I've reviewed more than 500 business books for the Hamilton Spectator since 1999 and worked in public relations since 1993.

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