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Tapping into Intrinsic Motivation: A Guide to Building High-Performing Teams.

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Working on a Major Holiday

The Case for Prioritizing Intrinsic Motivation

The Crisis of Employee Engagement

Interviewing for Intrinsic Motivation

Stay Objective and do Better at Predicting Success in a Role

You may recognize this strategy if you’ve read Mark Roberge’s “The Sales Acceleration Formula.” If you want further detailed instructions, I recommend reading it. While speaking with Roberge at Harvard Business School where he is a professor, he explained an additional benefit where you can refine your hiring process. This is done by looking at the scoresheets of your actual best performers. You’ll see which traits the data says are predictive of success for your business. Staying objective and building real data to predict future success are great, but there is more. In “Thinking, Fast and Slow” Daniel Kahneman talks about developing a similar methodology as a young psychologist in the Israeli army to evaluate recruits for success-potential in army careers. Kahneman shows many examples seemingly proving that simple models are better than humans at predicting the future.

With this framework, it’s straight-forward to take intrinsic motivation into consideration. Just decide how much weight you want to give it and figure out how you’ll look for signals of intrinsic motivation as it relates to the candidate’s professional areas of interest. My suggestion is that it gets the highest possible weight.

Identify Intrinsic Motivation

  • A developer who contributes to open source projects, and talks about it with genuine enthusiasm.
  • A salesperson who keeps a blog where she reinforces her craft by publishing lessons and thoughts.
  • A candidate who does a case for the role, and the deliverable makes you want to shortcut the process and make an offer immediately.

You may also ask the candidate to describe events in the recent past where they took leadership without being asked to. Have they sold a project to management or resolved an issue without anyone knowing she was even working on it? Find out why and how they did it, what kind of effort was put in, how the project turned out, why did it turn out that way. One question I like starting with is “So, how do you learn?” and dig in from there.

Downloadable Template

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Here’s a template for the weighted-average scoresheet (download it to your Drive or as an excel file):

Interview Scoresheet for Sales Roles

Note the second tab with score range definitions.

Attracting Intrinsically Motivated People

Awesome! Now we know we should hire for intrinsic motivation and how to screen for it. But don’t just sit back and wait for intrinsically motivated people to come knocking on your door with resumes in hand. This is serious! Make it an active objective to attract the right people to your hiring pipeline.

On LinkedIn Recruiter/Lite

If you are working with a recruiter, share this article and make it an ongoing discussion with that recruiter. If you are on LinkedIn Recruiter/Lite, you can use boolean search. Use keywords that would surface these mastery seekers, like “founder,” “marketing mastermind,” “enterprise sales forum,” “Mozilla Developer Network” etc. The more keywords you identify, the larger your list will be.

In the Real World

You can also get out to industry events in the field you are hiring for. The intrinsically motivated sales person will hardly miss their local Enterprise Sales Forum, or equivalent group, meetings. She might even be one of the people running it and posting recaps on social media! The intrinsically motivated marketer might be on meetup.com right now running a local group that gathers to discuss account based marketing strategies. Look into your niche too, whatever it is, there’s a relevant network actively meeting and seeking mastery in that niche.

Finally, build and showcase a culture that promotes and embraces intrinsically motivated people. They have specific needs in order to thrive and continue to be self-motivated. These needs include opportunities to challenge themselves, to approach mastery and to have a sense of purpose. According to Pink, autonomy is disproportionately the most powerful lever you can pull to attract and boost self-motivation. Autonomy on how, when and with whom people work can be the epicenter that sends intrinsic motivation shockwaves flowing through the entire organization.

Hope you enjoyed this guide and you’ll put some of this into action. We’ve used this to hire some amazing team members and I’m hoping that this guide can help you do the same!

About My Articles

These LinkedIn articles are a collection of actionable thoughts and lessons from the intersection of founding a company, acquiring knowledge and seeking wisdom. I’m writing for my fellow entrepreneurs, the entrepreneurial ecosystem, my own team and those interested in my company. Click the +Follow button to hear about future articles. A like, comment and share is truly appreciated and helps to amplify my reach.