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How Can You Motivate Knowledge Workers?

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Expectancy Theory
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Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

How Can You Motivate Knowledge Workers?

In the current 'knowledge era', the question what motivates knowledge workers, and, being a manager, how you should motivate and manage them is important.
In their article "The Progress of Small Wins" in HBR May 2011, Professor Theresa M. Amabile and researcher Steven J. Kramer are reporting interesting findings and formulate a principle.
By the way, this principle reminded me strongly of above summarized Expectancy Theory (1964) of Victor Vroom (the article itself does not mention this).
According to Amabile and Kramer what motivates knowledge workers is surprisingly simple: the sense of making progress in meaningful work (they call this the Progress Principle).
In this Progress Principle, 3 elements are important:
1. Sense (similar to Vroom's Expectancy)
2. Making Progress (similar to Vroom's Instrumentality)
3. Meaningful (similar to Vroom's Valence)
According to the authors 'this sense of making progress is fundamental to human nature, but few managers understand it or know how to leverage progress to boost motivation'. This while even limited progress (or lack thereof) can already boost (or decrease) morale and engagement and make them more (or less) productive!
Chances are that you, being a member of 12manage, are managing several or even many knowledge workers. What should you do? Quite simply: support this progress. How?
This part of the article I liked most. Interestingly, the authors distinguish between:
- 'Catalysts' (actions that support work): setting clear goals, allowing autonomy, providing enough resources and time, helping with the work, openly learning from problems and successes, and allowing a free exchange of ideas. Beware of the negative counterpart of catalysts, 'Inhibitors', such as failing to provide support and actively interfering with the work.
- 'Nourishers' (actions that support the person): respect, recognition, encouragement, emotional comfort, opportunities for affiliation. Beware of the negative counterpart of nourishers, 'Toxins', such as disrespect, discouragement, disregard for emotions, and interpersonal conflict.
 

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More on Expectancy Theory:
Summary
Discussion Topics
👀How Can You Motivate Knowledge Workers?
topic What Motivates Employees? The Answer Depends (Partly) on their Generation
topic All 3 Elements in Expectancy Theory are Mandatory
topic Why People Want to Become Leaders? Motivations to Lead
topic Misunderstandings About Motivation
topic Motivation in Non-Profit Organizations
🔥 How to Deal with Demotivated Employees: Learned Helplessness
topic Controlling the Minds of Employees
topic Is your Job Meaningful?
topic Extended Version of the Expectancy Theory (Lambright)
topic What Precisely is Expectancy? Definition
topic Motivating an Employee by Valence
topic Expectancy Theory versus Human Needs?
topic Effort Leads to Performance, But Only to a Certain Extent
topic Human Motivation Lies Within
topic What Precisely is Valence? Definition of Valence
topic Measuring Motivation:The PIAV Assessment
topic Motivation is Owned by the Individual
topic Motivation Should be a Two-way Process
topic Problems with Expectancy Theory. Disadvantages
topic Identify your Passion for Success
topic The Importance of the Goals in Motivating Workers
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top

More on Expectancy Theory:
Summary
Discussion Topics
👀How Can You Motivate Knowledge Workers?
topic What Motivates Employees? The Answer Depends (Partly) on their Generation
topic All 3 Elements in Expectancy Theory are Mandatory
topic Why People Want to Become Leaders? Motivations to Lead
topic Misunderstandings About Motivation
topic Motivation in Non-Profit Organizations
🔥 How to Deal with Demotivated Employees: Learned Helplessness
topic Controlling the Minds of Employees
topic Is your Job Meaningful?
topic Extended Version of the Expectancy Theory (Lambright)
topic What Precisely is Expectancy? Definition
topic Motivating an Employee by Valence
topic Expectancy Theory versus Human Needs?
topic Effort Leads to Performance, But Only to a Certain Extent
topic Human Motivation Lies Within
topic What Precisely is Valence? Definition of Valence
topic Measuring Motivation:The PIAV Assessment
topic Motivation is Owned by the Individual
topic Motivation Should be a Two-way Process
topic Problems with Expectancy Theory. Disadvantages
topic Identify your Passion for Success
topic The Importance of the Goals in Motivating Workers
Special Interest Group

SIG Leader

Do you know a lot about Expectancy Theory? Become our SIG Leader

Knowledge Center

Expectancy Theory
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