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Motivations: Peeling Back The Layers of the Complex Human

While we at Narrative often talk about personality, there are many additional layers that form the complex human spectrum, one of which is motivation. Some people call it values, but we prefer motivation; values, as a term of reference, is often laden with moral implications where motivation implies a positive driver of behavior.

While personality explains the HOW of our behaviors, motivations explain the WHY of our behaviors.

In the assessment we use to measure motivations, the assessee is scored on 7 different motivations: Aesthetic, Economic, Individualistic, Political, Altruistic, Regulatory, and Theoretical. Rather than look at the individual scores of each motivation, the important task is to look at which rank the highest and which rank the lowest.

Two Sales People, the Altruist and the Economic

Sally and John, both in sales, had similar Big Five personality profiles – both score high in Resilience, Extraversion, and Conscientiousness, moderate in Openness, and low in Agreeableness. While both were drawing in a similar number of new clients each month, Sally continually delivered a higher profit margin. Not understanding the disparity in results between such similar personalities, we decided to administer a Motivations assessment. The scores on the Motivations assessment provided clarity on the difference in their metrics. Sally’s assessment shows that her top value is Economic (motivated by money, practical results, and return on investment), while John’s top value is Altruism (motivated by altruism, service, and helping others) and his lowest is Economic. John’s Altruism combined with a lack of Economic motivation means that he is motivated to help the customer, be giving, and is less motivated by earning more money. Therefore he was, due to his underlying motivation, giving away more discounts to his clients than Sally. Sally, conversely, is motivated more by increasing her income and delivering a good return for the company.

Now that we know John is less motivated by Economics and places a high value on Altruism, his manager may consider providing specific direction or setting boundaries and limits on discount offers. Knowing John’s motivation might also assist in setting the parameters of his territory or sales vertical. For example, John may be more excited to sell to hospitals, schools, non-profits – those whose missions mirror his motivations – which leverages his motivations as a sales driver for the company. Likewise, Sally may be more excited to sell to banks and large corporate companies with deep pockets. By understanding these individual’s motivators, their managers and company have an opportunity to not only increase the employee’s satisfaction by aligning their specific sales goals with their motivations but, also to leverage those motivations to potentially increase sales overall.

Technology Firm Leverages Personality & Motivations Assessments to Find the Ideal Fit

A small technology firm with 3 equity partners engaged Narrative to hire new employees in Network Technician and Design Analyst roles. We began by defining both a Narrative Big Five target profile and a Motivations profile for each role. As part of the preparation for this engagement, we assessed the firm’s three equity partners on both the Narrative Big Five and the Motivations Assessment. Much like the previous example, the 3 partners mostly scored in a range that typically indicates a natural leader and yet, their underlying motivations helped to differentiate their individual behavior patterns. Jim and Mary ranked low on Individualistic (motivated by independence and appearing unique) and high on Theoretical (motivated by attaining knowledge and understanding) where Simon ranked high on Individualistic (motivated by independence and appearing unique) and high on Political (motivated by power and influence). Not long after we started working with them, Simon left the firm to start his own business. While his motivation scores may not have been the only driver for his departure, they may have influenced his desire to lead a company of his own.

The message in this example is different than everyone in leadership or a team or a company should have the same motivations; diversity can be very beneficial. In fact, the primary focus of defining any target profile when hiring, is to look at what the job requires, then the culture and who they report to are secondary considerations.

In summary, these two examples show that motivations – WHY someone behaves the way they do, give us additional insights into personality and behavior when paired with the Narrative Big Five Assessment.

Important Information

When using assessments, it is important to note that all scores are good. However, there are specific traits and motivations that will match a particular job better than others. Those who do not match the target profiles can still perform well in the job; the job may take more energy from them than someone who matches it well. Also, the job is the level at which you should try to match profiles. While important, culture and who they work for are secondary considerations.

Are you ready to peel back the deeper layers of your leaders, managers and teams? Or to profile your open roles and match them in your hiring process? Contact us for more information.