Ask yourself this: What motivates you to get up in the morning and go to work?
I was recently asked this question in a meeting with four fellow engineers at Jimdo. Our goal was to create a mutual understanding of what motivates us to do great work. By figuring out the driving forces behind our actions, we hoped that we would be able to make better-informed decisions about the future of our teams (which have since then joined forces).
I don’t say this often, but this meeting was well worth the time. Conscious self-reflection is one of my favorite methods in achieving personal growth. Besides, I learned something new about my teammates. A win-win.
In order to find out what exactly motivates us, we played a variant of a game called Moving Motivators. The game, which is part of the Management 3.0 course, promises to be an “exercise to reflect on motivation and how it is affected by organizational change”. It is made up of ten cards representing the ten intrinsic motivators of the people in an organization.
At some point in the game, we had to pick the five motivators most important to us. Here’s what I chose and why, starting with the most important motivator. (Note that I renamed some of the motivators to better reflect my interpretation of what they mean.)
Curiosity. I love to tinker with tools and programming languages. In particular, I’m eager to learn everything about infrastructure automation and running systems in production. So the work I do should satisfy my curiosity in that regard. I know that work isn’t always exciting, but there has to be a time for exploration.
Freedom. I deliver my best work when I have the freedom to accomplish tasks my way, independent of others. At a different level, the same is true for my team. Privacy within team boundaries is paramount. We like to take responsibility for what we do, provided that we can decide for ourselves how we’re going to operate. (Trust us, we’re engineers.)
Connection. Work has to be fun! Good social contacts are of utmost importance to me and, I hope, to my colleagues as well. I don’t have to be friends with everyone, but we should, at a minimum, be able to establish a respectful and professional relationship in order to get things done. The No Asshole Rule applies here.
Recognition. At the end of the day, I want to ship great work. I can only be sure whether my work is any good once my peers give me some feedback, preferably on a regular basis. Positive feedback is a huge motivational factor for me. At the same time, I want to know when my work is subpar. Only then will I be able to improve.
Order. For a German like me, it’s a bit of a cliche but nevertheless true: Ordnung muss sein. Over the years I’ve learned that I only function well in an organized and stable environment. I need a rough schedule, I need an uncluttered workspace, I need to-do list items I can cross off. Likewise, there must be enough (but not too many) rules in place for a stable work environment.
Work at Jimdo
As far as intrinsic motivation is concerned, Jimdo does a good job. The company provides a healthy work environment where I can apply my skills and learn new ones – on Fridays, for example, we can work on projects of our own choosing – and where I’m given the trust to take action in a self-organizing team. Together we work hard to get better at what we do, guided by constant feedback. Most of all, we’ve always been proud of our culture.
It’s not a perfect workplace (yet) – open-plan offices are the worst thing ever and remote work isn’t really an option despite its many benefits. Still, I’m convinced that Jimdo is a place where I can blossom.
There’s plenty more I could, and probably will, write about. But for now, one thing is for sure: I am motivated to do great work.