What Motivates You? | Jobs In MD

What Motivates You?

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What Motivates You?

"What motivates you?" I asked the client sitting across the table from me. "What motivates me?" she says, and then, "I'm not sure."

I have had this conversation many times.

When I first began working with clients 20 years ago, I would assess their skills. Since then, I've worked with clients facing job and life transitions and my focus has become more direct. Now I want to know more about what motivates people. If I can assist someone with their motivators, I can then help them look at occupations that match their motivators and what skills are critical for those occupations.

Not only do I ask, "What motivates you?" I repeat the question three times. Each time the individual responds, a deeper level is expressed. Often, the third response includes: "being with family" or "spending time with my children's activities" or another close-to-the-heart activity. In this case, the conversation then follows a path on how to develop a plan which balances work and family.


Think of the following four motivators and how you would respond to the questions:

  1. Idea creator: Are you a person who likes to generate new ideas? Do you look at life with options and opportunities? Do you like to take charge of situations?
  2. Influencer: Are you a person that likes to be around people in a social and business setting? Do you like to influence what people do and how they interact?
  3. Supporter: Are you a person who enjoys working with others to carry out ideas? Do you like problem solving for others?
  4. Organizer: Do you enjoy precision and practical approaches to your life and work? Do you enjoy more repetitive activities? Do you enjoy keeping things steady and paying close attention to details?

Matching Game

Once you can identify what motivates you, you can then begin to look at areas that match your motivators. For instance:

  • Someone whom enjoys creating ideas might like start-up projects or working as an entrepreneur.
  • An influencer might enjoy opportunities that bring people together such as event planning, marketing or teaching others.
  • Someone who enjoys supporting others might be interested in opportunities that allow them to be part of a team, but not lead a team. This person might enjoy carrying out a project, but perhaps not driving it.
  • The person who enjoys organizing might find great satisfaction in working with numbers, details with assessing technology or making sense out of chaos.

For each of these areas, you can then look at jobs and skills required. There are a variety of assessments to assist you, such as LiveCareer.com or StrengthsFinder.com.

I use a tool called Personal Directions which combines a person's motivators with how someone is spending their time. Regardless of any formal tool, start at the beginning and ask yourself, "What motivates me?"

Diane L. Dunton M.S., president of Potential Released Consulting Services since 1996, has over 25 years of business and HR experience. Diane has received specialized training with National Training Labs, the Gestalt Institute, Center for Creative Leadership, the University of Michigan's Organizational Career Development and the Center for Reengineering Leadership programs. She has developed programs for over 25,000 employees and leads more than 20 workshops annually offering executive coaching, professional individual coaching and programs on leadership and strategic planning. She has appeared before conferences of up to 9,000 participants and her work has appeared in both U.K. and U.S. management publications, including the Society for Training and Development's Team and Organizational Development Sourcebooks (2003-2006).Learn more about Diane at PotentialReleased.com.