This week we are talking about Herzberg’s Motivator-Hygiene theory which explains a key nuance about how we motivate each other. Whoa! That sounds significant doesn’t it? It basically says this: the things that make people satisfied and motivated on the job are different in kind from things that make them dissatisfied.I like this topic because in a way it fits in with some other things such as this: adding in the positive doesn’t mean we will experience less of the negative. For example, adding more positive emotion in our life doesn’t mean we will experience less negative. So, I think this is relevant for leaders and organizations as they are attempting to make decisions about what to keep and not.
Here is what Herzberg says: The provision of motivators are: recognition, work that is meaningful, responsibility, advancement, achievement. The hygiene factors are: working conditions, pay, interpersonal relations, job security, company policies and administration. Now, what he says is that a lack of the hygiene factors does everything to attribute to job dissatisfaction when they are missing but nothing to do with job satisfaction when they are present. The same with the motivators: they will lead to satisfaction when present but not only to not satisfaction when absent; not necessarily “dissatisfaction”.
Ask people what makes them dissatisfied on the job and they will say something like an annoying boss or a policy. Even if these things are changed, ask them what makes them satisfied and you’ll hear about meaningful work, relationships, and things that lead to growth and achievement. But the big question first is, does this theory hold up? Well, it does in many studies and also in a way that we might not consider. His theory really was the first to make managers and leaders recognize that jobs could be redesigned, enriched, and enlarged to support motivation and job satisfaction.
So what does this mean for leaders? First, motivation isn’t overly complex AND what is true is that you really can’t make anyone do anything. If you are going to ask about job satisfaction, please have the conversation about 100% responsibility first. Then, look at what might be the “hygienes” versus the “motivators” and what are you willing to change? So, don’t confuse satisfaction and dissatisfaction as one being the inverse of the other. Just like positive and negative. Hygiene factors don’t necessarily motivate so, look to the motivating factors and remove the detractors.
So, what motivates you and your team and demotivates you and your team?