Motivation has been studied, prodded, poked and dissected since cavepeople were painting on walls.
And all that effort has led to multiple theories of why people do what they do. I believe each has a modicum of value and insight (except Maslow – please throw that away!!! It’s not a valid way to look at motivation!)
I like simple. Simple is what most of us thrive on.
The Expectancy Theory of motivation is pretty simple and is a pretty solid program design starting point.
Motivational Force (MF) = Expectancy x Instrumentality x Valence
- Expectancy is the belief that I can actually hit the goal set for me.
- Instrumentality is the belief that I will receive a reward if I hit the goal.
- Valence is the value I place on the rewards – do I want/like it.
I think you can easily see the mental calculus in this model…
Can I hit the goal, do I have faith I will get the promised reward if I hit the goal and do I really want the award?
If all the answers are “yes” – there is good chance I’ll do the deed and work for the reward.
Two things to remember with all incentive planning.
- Incentives are choice architectures. They don’t MAKE people do anything – this isn’t like hypnotizing someone to cluck like a chicken when a bell rings. People still need to make a conscious choice to play the game.
- Even if the answer to all the questions above are yes, there will be a few folks that won’t play. That’s normal. There’s always a few who march to their own drummer.
Overall – today’s lesson is this – there are a ton of theories on what increases someone’s desire to do a behavior. None of them comes with a 100% guarantee. No incentive program design is perfect. Some are just better than others.
Go forth and motivate!