Why measure motivation?

There are assessments measuring a vast array of things: behavior, skills, EQ, personality, and many more. Lately, as many people are reexamining their world and their place within it, measuring motivation – which MRG does using the Individual Directions Inventory™ (IDI™) – seems to have gained some momentum. Measuring motivation helps a person understand themselves better: it helps them identify which aspects of life lift them up and give them energy – and which aspects may be demotivating or draining.

So why access this self-knowledge? While it can be fascinating to see yourself reflected, the impact really comes from what a person DOES with that knowledge, and how it influences the decisions they make. In my experience, when people are able to design their lives in a way to capitalize on their positive energy, they’re not only more satisfied with life and work, they tend to also be more successful. They have more energy to devote to their work, to share with others, to get into a state of flow. Understanding their high emotional drivers can help people to weigh their options as they consider critical questions: do I want to be a manager of people or a high-level individual contributor? Do I want to take this job or that job? How can I do my job differently in order to capitalize on my energy?

For example, if I am highly motivated by being in the spotlight and earning others’ esteem (Entertaining and Gaining Stature, in the parlance of the IDI™), and, I know that I am more likely to thrive in a visible position where there are opportunities for recognition, fun, and engaging people from the front of the room. If I’m also strongly drawn to situations where I feel that I’m part of a group (Belonging in the IDI), I understand that being part of a team will energize me as well. Contrast that with having lower energy for those areas, but lots of energy for analyzing data and situations, working independently, and for striving toward tougher and tougher goals (Interpreting, Independence and Excelling). With that profile, I’d want to make sure I have plenty of alone time to analyze things objectively and understand them thoroughly so I could use that knowledge to push myself (and maybe others) towards higher levels of achievement. With greater self-knowledge around my energy, I have greater insights not only into which job I take, but how I structure my days to work most effectively.

In the same vein, understanding one’s lower emotional drivers is just as important. We all have to do things in life that we aren’t really motivated to do. These may seem like drudgery and perhaps a necessary evil. But the way we view these tasks can make all the difference. For example, let’s say I have been meaning to declutter my house for years and I haven’t made the time to do so. I can beat myself up, think I’m lazy, observe others who declutter with joy and ease as superior to me in some way, etc. OR, if I understand that I have a low Structuring score – meaning I have less energy for being efficient and organized, being meticulous and orderly – I can cut myself some slack. If I view that lower energy without judgment, I can create some strategies to help me effectively complete the task I want to complete. Maybe I hire a professional organizer, or if I can’t afford that, perhaps I look up some organizing influencers to help psych me up to do the work, I plan a specific time to devote to the task, I buy all the storage bins and other materials I need, I turn on my favorite music, get to work, and once I’ve decluttered for an allotted time, I stop, congratulate myself for a job well done, and celebrate with a cup of tea (or wine) or maybe read my book for 30 minutes. Understanding my low drivers without judgment frees me up to get my work done in a much more positive and energizing way. And while I may never be pleased about my low Structuring score, I always have the awareness of my higher drivers where my positive energy comes more freely and naturally.

Another benefit of measuring and viewing motivation or energy in a non-judgmental way is how it helps us to understand others. Rather than assuming that my co-worker is intentionally trying to annoy me or sabotage me by objecting to my great new ideas and proposed changes, I might instead understand that his motivations are different than mine. If he is more energized by predictability, security, and caution, (higher Stability in the IDI) and less energized by innovation and quick changes (lower Creating and Maneuvering), then it’s understandable that brand new ideas don’t feel as good to him as they do to me. Perhaps then I might make an effort to give him more time to review my ideas, I might explain the benefits to him differently, and perhaps we could find common ground.

Motivation fits into every aspect of our lives, both personally and professionally. And as those spheres become more blended for many of us, we may find that strategically tapping into our highest motivators – and being smart about how we tackle the low-energy areas of our lives – may be the key to finding the satisfaction and success we desire.

About the author

Christine is an executive coach at MRG and loves exploring her clients’ emotional drivers with the IDI. When not working or chauffeuring her son to his latest activity, Christine can be found with either a book or a tennis racket in her hand.

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Gene Baker
Gene Baker
3 years ago

Love this! This is often overlooked by most people. In many cases, people look at the position prestige or the money offered and neglect to look at how their motivation drivers or energy would be affected in a positive or negative way. I liken it to white water rafting. on a difficult pass it is common for rafters to get out and survey what they are about to go through and then strategize the best route and tactics to use to make it through. If people can identify what’s around them, ahead of them or what was behind them that… Read more »

Christine Chasse
3 years ago
Reply to  Gene Baker

Thanks for the comment, Gene, and I love your analogy!! I hope all is going well for you in this crazy world we’re in.