How High Performance Can Be Part of Your Culture

Company culture is very nuanced and complex. It’s intential and can be cultivated, but it’s also a natural byproduct of the people who make up your company. For that reason, no company can truly recreate the great cultures we hear about at Zappos or Twitter. We can, however, look to others to understand the success behind great company culture and the creation of genuinely motivated teams.

On a recent episode of John Jantsch’s podcast, Duct Tape Marketing, he spoke to Lindsay McGregor about the research she and her co-author, Neel Doshi, completed to write Primed to Perform. Their research indicates that a person’s professional performance is driven only 20% by their personality, and 80% by the environment around them. Well, that puts a lot of pressure on business leaders to create cultures that foster high performing employees.

So let’s look at what motivates people to better understand the levers we have to pull when crafting your company’s culture. McGregor and Doshi identified 6 motivators that, when combined, indicate a person’s total motivation. This is important because they believe that why a person works determines how well a person works.

The first 3 motives are positive, or direct, motives.

1. Play – you enjoy the work itself, it’s an activity you may even do if you weren’t being paid to do it.
2. Purpose – you believe in the impact you make while doing your job.
3. Potential – you do something for an indirect outcome of the work, what might come one day from doing this work.

The next 3 motives are negative, or indirect.

4. Emotional Pressure – you do the work to avoid guilt or shame.
5. Economic Pressure – you do the work only to either gain a reward or avoid punishment.
6. Intertia – you do the work because it’s what you did yesterday so you’ll continue doing it today and tomorrow and the day after that.

Combining these motives to understand whether or not the positives outweigh the negatives results in a total motivation that is either net positive or net negative. (McGregor and Doshi have an online test for you and your team to take to quantify total motivation.)

Looking at these 6 motivators, we can see that while intrinsic and extrinsic rewards are necessary to attracting and retaining employees, the real value comes in the subtlties of the environment you create at your company. Are employees encouraged to play, be curious, explore, and experiment? Can employees see the direct impact of their work, both on a company or team level, but also the impact of their own individual contribution? And can employees see the future possibilities for themselves that can be accomplished by doing good work?

Concentrating on making sure you can answer yes to these questions, (and if you already can, how do you make that an resounding “YES!”?) you can work to make your employees’ total motivation scores more positive, and therefore increase your employees’ performance.