Motivation and Retention
Ever since J. Richard Hackman from Yale University and Gregg R. Oldham from the University of Illinois published their groundbreaking book “Work Redesign” in 1980, Organizational Development (OD) specialists have continued their quest to create the perfect organization comprised of the perfect jobs. This elusive pursuit for the Holy Grail of motivating environments continues to challenge and baffle the behavioral scientists, managers and leaders. Yet, great organizations continue striving to create nirvana, and even they fall short of motivating and retaining 100% of their employees. If we can send a man to the moon and put 100 million transistors on a computer chip the size of a dime, then why can’t we extract the best from everyone, all or even most of the time?
Motivating Potential Score
Humans are the ever-changing variable in the equation of determining the success or failure of motivation and retention. It is the quest to understand this human element which will provide a challenge beyond the foreseeable future. Hackman and Oldham provided a foundation to tackle the challenge, the Motivating Potential Score (MPS)=(skill variety + task identity + task significance/3) x autonomy x job feedback. Work Redesign (Hackman & Oldham, 1980, p. 81)
These five variables provide the chance to create motivating environments for our employees, or ourselves. This can unlock the full potential for our creativity, engagement and job satisfaction. While creating a highly motivating environment with happy and satisfied employees will not guarantee additional productivity with any statistical significance, it will guarantee improved retention. And keeping employees, which are the most important resource, adds to a company’s bottom line.
You Can Create a Motivating Environment
You can’t motivate people, but you can create a motivating environment. It is up to the individuals to determine if they are motivated. The motivation lies within the continuous improvement of 1) skill variety, 2) task identity, 3) task significance, 4) autonomy and 5) job feedback. As shown in the MPS equation, autonomy and job feedback are multipliers which provide the greatest impact of all the variables. Leverage these two variables to maximize your return on investment of time, money and resources. Great leaders understand this leveraged approach and can rally others to work toward this MPS goal.
In today’s environment with business collapse, financial crisis and rising unemployment, it is difficult to break the bonds of a survival mentality and emerge with future thinking. The organizations and the individuals that understand the Motivating Potential Score and take regular steps to maximize each of the elements are the fortunate few that can achieve the levels of motivation the rest of us envy.
If your organization is not taking the initiative to improve any of the five variables, then lead by example, regardless of your position, and begin creating this positive environment for yourselves and others. It is the organizations that strive today to create the best working environment, under the most challenging and uncertain conditions that will retain the top employees when the opportunities outside of the organization become abundant.
Reference Hackman, R., & Oldham, G. (1980). Work Redesign. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.