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Seb Anthony

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research into what motivates people


Many many years ago, I was made aware of a study that surveyed a number of 'employees' about what motivated them at work. The same survey was conducted with their managers, but in two parts: what motivates YOU and what do you think motivates your employees? The results showed (unsuprisingly) that there was very little difference between what motivated the two groups, just a difference in perception.

Does anyone know the research I'm on about, and where I can get a copy of the results?
Sheridan Webb

8 Responses

  1. a bit of a non answer
    Hi Sheridan
    I think it is the same study that I heard of in 1996; the interesting point (to me anyway) was that each layer in the hierarchy claimed that THEY were motivated by professional pride, desire to do a job properly, committment to customers, devotion to the “family” and so on; the higher orders on Maslow. Whereas each level in the hierarchy PERCEIVED that the level BELOW them (ie the people they managed) were motivated predominantly by pay increases and financial bonuses; the lower orders on Maslow(?)

    I don’t know where it came from but I first heard it from a senior manager in the public sector.

    I know that this doesn’t answer your question but it may add something and it think it may explain why this piece of specific data is interesting in relation to general theories of motivation in that it shows a potential pitfall in managing people.


  2. In response…

    Rus, the study you quote seems to be the one I remember too! I’m glad I’m not making it all up.

    Juliet, in anser to your clarification questions, I am aware of the many different theories of motivation, but I was hoping that the results of this study would back up a very specific exercise that I want to run.

    David, I’m sure a slide would be helpful, especially if it contains any facts or figures!

    Thanks so far…


  3. Motivation Study
    “Work Force Study finds loyalty is weak,” The Wall Street Journal, September 3rd 1993, p. B-1. This lists ten factors in the way that workers voted them as motivators at work and yes, most managers pretty much reverse them when asked what motivates their teams.

    I found them in “The Big Book of Business Games” by John Newstrom and Edward Scannell.

    Hope this helps


  4. and by a strange coincidence…
    the news and features pages now have a story entitled
    “Organisations fail to motivate managers” which has anew study from Ashridge that comes out with similar findings!

  5. I have a copy
    Hi Sheridan

    I have a copy of this. If you email me at sue(at)people-solutions(dot)co(dot)uk I will send it to you



  6. Another view…
    A previous organisation I worked with was a subscriber to the Corporate Leadership Council, and they produced a great report back in 2002 called “Building A High-Performance Workforce”.

    The study showed links between certain management behaviours and improvements in both organisational performance and motivation.

    Whilst you have to be a member of the CLC to get a copy (and I forgot to slip a copy into my case before I left!), it might be well worth tracking down a copy to get a different perpective.

  7. Some thoughts?

    1. All motivation is self motivation

    2. Motivation either involves moving away from something bad, or towards something good

    Hope this helps



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