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Employee Motivation and Career Anchors

By Winsome Coutts

Employee Motivation and Career Anchors

Finding the right motivation is the key for each individual in the workplace.
A study on Employee Motivation and Career Anchors over thirty years ago by Professor Edgar Schein at MIT found that productivity will be boosted when you are able to identify each individual’s driving ‘reason’ for working, and what makes him work to the best of his capacity, and then communicating with him in the way that’s important to him.
His work is still just as relevant today. For high performance from each individual, simply communicate with them in ‘their’ way.

“The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when someone asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.”
Henry David Thoreau

Employee Motivation and Career Anchors

It can be argued that motivated employees are the most important asset of a successful company. However, the question has long plagued employers: how best to go about increasing employee motivation?
While there are many thoughts on this subject, and quite a lot of consensus as to what the most important elements of motivation actually are, there’s one new idea on the block that’s been getting a lot of buzz.

This idea is called the “career anchor”.
Basically a career anchor says that people in general are motivated by one or more of eight different core reasons that are called “anchors”. These anchors are defined as “priorities that define the way they look at themselves and the work that they are given.”
The idea is that if you’re able to determine what the anchors are for any given employee, you will have a much better understanding of that employee’s psychology and be able to relate to them in such a way that helps them to feel recognized, rewarded, and valued.
In return, or so the theory goes, they will become a much more motivated employee.

You know yourself how you are much more motivated to work hard when you really feel understood.

So what are the eight anchors that we have to learn to identify?

1. Technical Competence
The first is technical competence. A person for whom this anchor is important wants above all else to excel in their chosen career. Such an employee is most engaged by the opportunity to display and / or sharpen his or her job-related skills. Offering them training in new skills or granting them challenging jobs with high levels of responsibility is a great way to motivate them.

2. General Managerial Competence
Next up is general managerial competence. A person to whom this anchor is important tends to cling closely to the “traditional career path” in the sense that they desire an eventual promotion to the level of upper management.
To engage an employee of this type, it’s important to allow them to develop skills that will one day be useful as a manager, such as interpersonal skills, and handling large amounts of responsibility.

3. Autonomy
Autonomy is the third anchor. Employees who latch onto this anchor just want to do a good job on their own. It’s best to grant an employee like this total responsibility for his or her decisions, and then reward or penalize them accordingly. They tend to be very justice-minded.

4. Security
Security is yet another anchor that is important to many. Employees who cling to the security anchor value a stable line of work. It’s best to deal with them by giving them clearly defined assignments and performance target goals. As long as they have a clear task in mind, they will excel at it, and will continue to feel motivated

5. Creativity
Many employees will find that Creativity as an anchor is important. For creative people, it’s important to give them the sense that their ideas and individual contributions are of vital importance. In doing so, you’ll encourage their strengths to develop in a useful way.

6. Sense of Service
Next up is the sense of service anchor. This anchor causes people to want to be recognized for their service to “the company”. They might have a very traditional mindset that will respond well simply to recognition (and, of course, compensation) when they do a good job.

7. Challenge
Pure challenge employees just want work that is constantly challenging. Oblige them and watch their skills grow! They will feel highly motivated too.

8. Lifestyle
Lifestyle anchored employees see their work as a means to the end of living the kind of private lifestyle that they prefer. For this kind of employee, things like promotions and inter-office recognition isn’t as important as the sense that they are working in some part for their own gain. Relate to them on this level and you’ll see an immediate improvement in motivation.

Employers will need to ‘enrol’ their employees in this activity – will need to sit down with them to discuss what they really want, what is really most important to them. Whatever it is an employee wants from his work is neither right nor wrong – we are all different, and if, as employers we can pinpoint what drives our employees, we are a long way along the road to motivating our staff.

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Winsome Coutts is the passion behind the new self help authority site, www.4lifeselfhelp.com. She is a lifelong student of personal development, meditation and goal setting. In the pursuit of her own dreams, she has created www.4lifeselfhelp.com as a tool to help others find success and happiness along with resources to live an abundant life.

Visit www.4lifeselfhelp.com today to take advantage of their resource library, free articles, resource tools and guidance.

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