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On motivation

This time, our blog post is on motivation.

During the recruitment phase, companies are often extremely interested in the motives of the person they are considering hiring. In motivation-related questions, rehearsed answers are often heard, such as when Reijo, with a poker face, says in an interview:

"I am highly motivated by people and organizations!"

After six months of getting to know him, it turns out that Reijo is actually interested in solo golf and a larger motorhome – and at work, he is mainly driven by the power that comes through status. How should motivation be understood and measured? And how can we develop our own internal drive for things we consider important?

What is said about motivation

Regarding motivation, it must be understood that the change from the current state to the desired ideal state occurs slowly. If you start doing something differently today ("motivated"), results are often expected only months later. Therefore, motivation should be viewed over the long term and preferably through actions.

Research also confirms this: in the well-supported Motivative Disposition Theory (MDT), main motives (achievements, power, relationships) are discussed, which a person systematically pursues or avoids pursuing over time. Motivation, therefore, is not only expressed as a feeling but as actions. Simplified, actions are evident in:

  • where you spend your time

  • with whom

  • for what or for whom

Individual emotional states, setbacks, or achievements are not the best indicators of motivation, and therefore, they should not be given too much weight. After running the promised cross-country trail for a long time, one should not pat oneself on the back and take a selfie for everyone, but plan the next performance. So, if cross-country trail running is genuinely important to oneself. A few years ago, Rafael Nadal interrupted a press conference after winning the Monte Carlo semifinal and wanted to practice his forehand. Believe it or not, Nadal knew how to hit a forehand before that practice. Genuine motivation thus manifests as a way of acting, where individual highlights or low points are secondary.

Misplaced goals do not motivate

Jaakko has a habit of handling work tasks in the evenings, sometimes at the expense of sleep. Jaakko's Oura ring indicates that this should not be done, and during the day, his alertness is poor. Taking action: a sleep study revealed that every evening he should go to bed at 9:30 PM. This works from Monday to Wednesday until an important email on Thursday interrupts the aspiring biohacker's moment of relaxation, and good night's sleep is just a memory. Jaakko becomes depressed and reverts to his old ways: this was not my thing.

From the outside, it is easy to see that Jaakko's motives were not very intrinsic. The goals set initially were too ambitious, and any setback could topple the house of cards, especially when the benefits were not visible in the short term.

In summary:

Motivation is not shown in what one has occasionally achieved or what one is doing right now but in the choices made over the long term. It is possible to set rules and high standards for things one is willing to do day in and day out, or at least frequently. Aim to delve into these matters with structured interviews and tests. Also, invest in the encounter: what is genuinely important to the candidate, and in which critical areas can the employee bring value to the company? Ideally, in his sales manager role, Reijo achieves the solo golf and, in the process, generates solid results even if he is not so keen on people. Give Reijo the opportunity to articulate it correctly, so surprises are avoided, and you can lead him correctly.

Motivated blogger from Sytytä


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