Lost Your Mojo*?

Posted by jlubans on August 18, 2020

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Who’s to blame? Is it you or is it corporate culture, the environment in which you work?
A study from 2015 suggests that it’s more the culture than the individual. It’s understood, it seems, that given the right corporate culture an employee will align herself and make the most of a good job.
I am not so sure; you could be the wrong fit for a great job.
But, there’s no question that a star employee under a freedom-granting administration may well become less luminous under a new boss jealous of an empowered employee.
I have worked in both settings and excelled under the former and far less so under the latter.
Also, I have seen up close and personal with one organization often cited for its good mojo: Southwest Airlines.
The many SWA people I interviewed loved their work and that love carried over into great service and successful returns on investment.
Sure, there may have been a few that did not buy into the SWA way of working, but they may have been having a bad day, or, more likely, had personal problems not related to the workplace.
I often refer to SWA in my blog. For just one reference out of many, go to this link.
Unlike some in the business press who regard SWA as a management cliché (sort of like the decades ancient allusion to 3Ms coming up with – out of nowhere – its Post-It notes).
I keep referring to SWA because it continues to hold true to its values over the decades.
According to the study there are 6 or more influences on workplace motivation. The authors term this as “Total Motivation” or ToMo: play, purpose, potential, emotional pressure, economic pressure, and inertia.
The first three influences are positive and direct motivators and the bottom three are indirect and tend to de-motivate.
As many previous researchers (e.g. Fred Emery)
on why people work have shown, the more external or indirect a “force” the less positive in motivating anyone.
For example, if you have no clue why you are doing the job (inertia), that condition will require more than coffee to get you “pumped” for the daily grind.
Ditto for going to work solely for economic gain or because you are trying to please someone other than yourself.
If you enjoy your work (it’s almost like play) and the greater the future potential (gaining experience and an explicit career ladder) and a positive, meaningful purpose for the job it’s likely to trigger your internal motivation to do a very good job.
The 2015 article is not an opinion piece but a delineation of quantitative ways to gauge how an organization’s culture sways individual motivation; the researchers calculate a total motivation (ToMo) score for each variable. They conclude that leaders can indeed successfully change corporate culture for the better by pursuing a higher ToMo score.
Why is this important?
To quote the authors: “… cultures that inspired more play, purpose, and potential, and less emotional pressure, economic pressure, and inertia, produced better customer outcomes.”
And, getting to the bottom line, they conclude that those corporations with the most positive ToMo scores perform better than industry peers with lower ToMo scores.

Lost you workplace mojo?
Take this quiz and rank your response as high, low or medium.
If you get “Highs” for Question 3, 4, and 5 that suggests you have a high ToMo and probably a pretty effective personal Mojo going on.
And, if you get “Highs” for Questions 1, 2 and 6 you probably lack personal motivation hence your mojo may be AWOL as well.
QUIZ. I work because:
1. Without this job I would be worried I couldn't reach my financial objectives.
2. There is no good reason for doing so.
3. The work itself is fun – I derive pleasure – from the work.
4. This type of work will help me reach my personal goals.
5. I believe the work has an important purpose.
6. If I didn't work, I would disappoint people or myself I care about.

*For those readers who only know the word MOJO from Austin Powers,
mojo also refers to an almost magical personal power, an infectious enthusiasm, and a palpable motivation.
While we (most of us) laughed at Austin’s raunchy bedroom mojo, there’s much more to it.

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© Copyright John Lubans 2020

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