Motivation and Management

Selection of Team Members
Choosing members for a team can be one of the most important decisions managers face as who makes up a team can determine the success or failure of a given venture. There are many tools a manager can, and should, use to help make this difficult decision. Managers can access personality tests, candidate’s hobbies and interests, and past job performance. Myers Briggs, one very popular personality test, gives four distinct personality preferences that lead to 16 personality type variations. Introversion/Extroversion (I/E) relates to how a person is energized and the way they prefer to work. Introverts prefer one project at a time and are energized internally, where extroverts fare better in multi-tasking environments and are energized externally. Intuitive/Sensing (N/S) refers to how a person takes in information. People who prefer sensing tend to assess the facts at hand while intuitives address the big picture and perceive the world much more fluidly.

Judging/Perceiving (J/P) addresses how a person is oriented to the world. People with a judging preference tend to be planners and organizers, while perceivers move in a more fluid fashion. Thinking/Feeling (T/F) refers to how a person prefers to make decisions. Those who are more thinking tend to be objective and address the facts while feeling people use their inner compass to come to decisions. This kind of information about an individual’s personality can help a manager decide how well a person will fit within the organization, how to motivate a given individual and what kinds of jobs in which that individual might excel. Placing someone who functions best in a free-form environment in which several projects are being completed simultaneously in a job that requires strict focus on a single project within rigid guidelines would be a serious mistake.

Although the MBTI can be a useful tool for managers as it can help them make some basic decisions about the kinds of work and work environments employees may prefer merely having the information is not enough. Managers and team members need to be given the tools to put this information about themselves and their team members to good use. The MBTI can indicate both weaknesses and flaws in a person’s personality, but the prediction rate is not perfect and managers tend to over-report certain types that they perceive as more desirable than others.

Motivation and Management
Managers can use the MBTI to gain insights into the types of things that will motivate their team members as well as use it to judge who would be best suited to a particular job. Managers should also have a firm understanding of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory in which he addresses the types of things that motivate individuals, beginning with food and shelter and ending with an internal motivational force called self-actualization. The Hierarchy can help a manager determine what will motivate a particular employee, however, the theory may be flawed in its assumptions about what motivates women. It must be considered, therefore, that men and women, people with and without spouses or children, people from other cultures and any other number of differences will likely have different motivators; a keen manager needs to be aware of these things that drive his or her employees. For example, self-esteem can sometimes take precedence as a need more urgent than basic survival and even life itself, so it is critical to understand what motivates. Managers must understand the life circumstances of their team members in order to be able to motivate them as someone who is struggling for the basics will not be motivated by ballet tickets just as one who is motivated by intrinsic rewards may feel insulted by being offered money as an incentive.

Managers need to be good at juggling several balls at once, especially when dealing with team members. First a manager should be aware of the basic personalities he or she is managing. These personality preferences will give the first clues to what sorts of work environments and tasks a given individual will prefer and excel in. Another important aspect for managers to key into is the needs an employee has: basic survival, safety, acceptance, esteem, aesthetics, or self-actualization. Knowing the needs of an employee will further give clues as to the kind of work he or she will be most suited for, but also will help the manager know what will work in motivating an employee should conflict or low motivation occur.

In all, a manager must be keenly aware of the people around him or her, and be willing to be observant to their life situations, their interests, their skills, their basic personality and what emotional, psychological or physical needs they may have. A poor manager will assume each individual is driven by the same things that drive him or her, and may be unwilling or unable to address the needs of individuals and, thereby, the needs of the entire team.

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