During an interview, there’s a lot of uncertainty. The company and the candidate are both curious and nervous – it’s kind of like a first date – everyone’s scared to ask the wrong questions, to say the wrong things. One thing’s for sure: If you’re a hiring manager (and possibly if you’re on a first date,) you’re missing out if you’re not asking “What’s your motivation?”
If you can get someone to divulge what really motivates him, you can determine if you will in fact be able to make that motivator available to the candidate. When you are able to deliver motivating factors to an employee, you’ll get the best work out of him, sans faute*.
Examples of motivating factors:
- Input into strategy
- Strengths-based work
- Ability to delegate
Of course this list is not exhaustive; motivation can be complex and unique. Keep in mind, too, that motivations can change over time. A new hire who is desperate for a job may be motivated by money initially, because she has bills to pay and at least one mouth to feed. However, once she has a steady paycheck, she may realize that she is not satisfied, and want more authority, or more responsibilities. She may want an intern so that she can delegate less-important tasks and focus on the more creative aspects of her role. By asking the right questions at the outset, a hiring manager may be able to predict these changes in motivation. One of the principals of Management by Objectives, as defined by Suters in his book, Succeed In Spite of Yourself, is that you tailor a job description for the person you are hiring. Doing so creates a solid foundation for success and growth. You can do this, in part, by ensuring that you know what will keep your new employee satisfied over the long-haul.
Another thing to consider, when examining employee motivation, is that younger generations view the corporate world very differently from their predecessors. Baby Boomers are often thought of as more loyal, because they stay with a company for the long-term; they want the gold watch. Generations X and Y, however, are often viewed as less loyal, more demanding. According to Henry Evans’ article“Gen X, Y, Z: How to Earn Their Loyalty,” younger generations simply value different things; they have different motivating factors. While Boomers may value a title, a reserved parking spot, and job security, younger generations care about feeling valued; they want to be involved and challenged. They want to be recognized for their contributions, and to be given guidance along the way.
Really, it seems to me that what most people want is what should be SOP for every company, anyway: clearly defined objectives based on the company’s overall mission and vision, channeled through to every level of the organization.
People want to work for efficient companies that value employee contributions, recognize and reward achievements, and allow employees to shine and grow. Here’s the thing: lip-service won’t do it. What today’s employees are looking for is engagement, and if you can’t give it to them, they will find a company that can – or they’ll leave to start their own business.
So, when looking to fill your next empty spot, try to really uncover what the interviewee wants – not just short-term, but long-term. And interviewees, please, answer honestly – because if you can find a company that’s willing to keep you engaged, that’s more golden than any gold watch.