I: The Self
Think back to when
you began your present job. Were you new to the organization? Or were
you promoted from within? Perhaps this is your first job in development
What were your feelings:
apprehension, excitement, pride? Chances are that when you started your
job you were highly motivated to set and achieve challenging goals for
yourself, that you manifested high energy, that you wanted to make a real
How do you feel about
your job today? Does your job hold as much promise as it once did? If
not, have you examined why?
The key may be motivation.
Why motivation? Public servant John Gardner wrote in On Leadership
that "no human venture succeeds without strongly motivated men and
women..... I look for high motivation more than any attribute other than
In order to motivate
donors to invest significantly in our organizational missions, we must
be motivational meaning that we must be motivated ourselves and excited
about our organizations. Where does this motivation come from? There are
two types: external and internal.
In our contemporary
workplaces employees have become accustomed to external motivations such
as bonuses, extra days off, contest prizes, etc. Even in the nonprofit
sector these external motivators are becoming more prevalent. The importance
of competitive salaries and genuine expressions of appreciation cannot
be denied. However, these tangible motivators have only temporary effects;
they are quick fixes. In fact, Dean Spitzer in Supermotivation
reports that "nonmonetary rewards such as involvement, freedom, responsibility,
achievement, and meaning are valued most highly." They complement
and nourish our internal motives.
is self-motivation. It resides in all of us, although it may be dormant.
It is lasting; it is steadfast; it is powerful. It is real motivation
and, in combination with external motivators, the foundation for our success
within our institutions. So what drives us?
Needs and desires
Maslow identified a hierarchy of human needs. Our most basic needs include
food, shelter and security, for example. Only when these basic needs are
met do we become concerned with self-actualization pursuing a higher
order of goals. For most of us, our basic needs are satisfied unless we
are confronted with a crisis like losing our job. The question is whether
we pursue self-actualization.
What really motivates
us are not the things we need. As Maslow states, "I am motivated
when I feel desire or want or yearning or wish or lack." Spitzer
describes eight major desires which are highly motivational: activity,
ownership, power, affiliation, competence, achievement, recognition and
meaning. And if thwarted, they can leave us feeling frustrated and angry.
Those feelings lead to dissatisfaction, disinterest and eventually other
We need to honestly
examine which of these motivators are especially important to us. It can
be difficult to ascertain, since we often want to place the blame for
our frustrations or direct our anger toward someone or something else.
Or we may not want to acknowledge motivations that seem too self-promotional
or venal. What are our hearts desires?
activity: Do you need to be continually stimulated, to be physically
and mentally active, to be involved in doing something most of the time?
Is variety important to you? Do you become restless frequently and abhor
ownership: Obviously, ownership of a nonprofit is not possible;
however, psychological ownership is important. Do you like to
see your ideas come to fruition? Do you argue doggedly for them?
Is it essential to you that you have input into decisions? Are
you possessive of projects you are involved in?
power: Do you have a high need for control or for influencing others?
Do you crave autonomy and authority? Is your title extremely important
to you? Do you resent limitations and restrictions?
affiliation: Do you look for opportunities to be with other people?
Do you look forward to the social interaction of meetings and informal
gatherings? Is the favorite part of your job visiting with
donors? Are significant emotional attachments particularly satisfying?
Is it important to you to be associated with a successful
organization and prominent people?
competence: Do you love to learn, to figure out how to make things
work and what makes people tick? Do you find deep satisfaction in mastering
new skills? Do you enjoy attending conferences and other educational
achievement: Do you take great pride in your work? Do you thrive
on challenge? Do you especially like tackling difficult tasks or meeting
urgent deadlines? Are clear goals and objectives critical to
recognition: Do you display certificates and plaques and keep notes
of appreciation? Do you relish moments of public praise for a job well
done or even just a pat on the back? Do you seek out opportunities
to be in front of people?
meaning: Do you feel driven to make a difference in peoples
lives? Do you take the organizations mission to heart?
Do you become wholly committed to something you believe in? Do you
care deeply about people and ideals?
Usually, we are driven
by more than one of these internal motivators. It is crucial to identify
which of these most apply to you, because high performance is a coupling
of ability and motivation according to Spitzer.
Once you have identified
your motivators, can you construct your work to capitalize on them? If
you are motivated primarily by recognition as an example, perhaps you
can arrange opportunities to make presentations to civic groups about
your organization. It may be possible to position yourself as public spokesperson
for the organization in media interviews. What about including a personal
message in your annual report extolling the achievements of the development
office (and by inference you)? Ask your supervisor for regular feedback.
You could consider a survey of your board of directors including an evaluation
of your performance and relationship with directors. You might consider
volunteering to manage internal projects like the United Way campaign.
Whatever your desires
you can devise creative means to satisfy these internal drives that will
enhance your performance, increase your satisfaction and activate positive
energy. Remember, Maslows term is "self-actualized." You
cannot depend or wait on others.
Even in the best
of organizations there are practices and cultural forces which act against
our self-motivation. In some instances they are significant obstacles.
Think for a moment about those that most frustrate you and relate them
to your internal motivators. Determine how you might be able to overcome
or neutralize each of them. Some of the most common include the following
described by Spitzer.
Do unwritten rules govern your organization? Is real decision-making
made before or after meetings? Do some people get ahead regardless
One way to
overcome this obstacle is by bringing information, discussion and decision-making
into the open and by confronting those who continue to operate
inappropriately behind closed doors.
expectations: Organizations frequently send conflicting messages
about goals and priorities. It is simply not possible for everything
to be a priority. Unclear expectations are also a way for the organization
to avoid accountability.
are unclear about what is expected of you, discuss the issues with your
supervisor and obtain agreement on which objectives and tasks are most
important. Delineate those with deadlines and other measurable
criteria. Report back to your supervisor on a regular basis
to reconfirm your priorities.
meetings: P.B. Crosby in Quality Without Tears reports that
excessive and unproductive meetings are the single major cause
for driving talented employees out of organizations.
If you can
influence meetings, make sure that they start and end on time. Provide
or suggest agenda items. Take it upon yourself to ask others for their
ideas and opinions on issues. Tactfully try to bring closure
to discussion that is becoming tiresome or fruitless. Offer
to lead a task force to make recommendations on complex
or contentious issues. Avoid meetings that you are not required
or expected to attend.
In spite of decades of management research and training, many managers
continue to overcontrol employees. Often a great deal of responsibility
is given to employees without commensurate authority. Managers
may require approval of all decisions, no matter how minor. They may
insist on frequent, detailed reports of activity.
shown that lack of control is a major cause of stress and carries destructive
consequences. This may be the most difficult of all obstacles to overcome.
It is highly unlikely that you can change the others personality
and behavior, but you can develop a plan of action. Be sure to
keep this kind of supervisor updated with quick oral reports or
e-mail messages. Anticipate concerns and questions, and offer
information and recommendations before you are asked. Ask for
advice about insignificant items. You also can try to engender
trust by developing a personal relationship that extends beyond the workplace.
Word of advice
If your efforts to
improve your work environment do not achieve positive results in a reasonable
amount of time, find somewhere else to work. No job is worth the level
of frustration caused by immovable obstacles.
Carl Rogers wrote that "it rests within himself to choose; that the
only question which matters is, Am I living in a way which is deeply
satisfying to me, and which truly expresses me? This I think is
perhaps the most important question for the creative individual."
Pose this question to yourself on a regular basis.
Personal growth is
vital if we are to be development professionals who effectively serve
our organizations. Growth cannot occur when our internal motivators are
continually thwarted. And growth characterizes self-actualization. Maslow
wrote, "Self-actualizing people are, without one single exception,
involved in a cause outside their own skin, in something outside of themselves.
They are devoted, working at something, something which is very precious
to them some calling or vocation in the old sense, the priestly
That calling or vocation
is what draws us into the development profession. When your internal motivations
are reinforced by external motivators, you can achieve wondrous heights
within yourself and for your organization.
Maslow, A., The
Farther Reaches of Human Nature, Viking Press, New York, 1971.
Maslow, A., Motivation
and Personality, Harper, New York, 1954.
Maslow, A., Toward
a Psychology of Being, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1968.
Rogers, C., On
Becoming a Person, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1961.
Spitzer D., Supermotivation,
AMACOM, New York, 1995.
Tjosvold, D. and
Tjosvold, M., Psychology for Leaders, John Wiley & Sons,
New York, 1995.
Michael R. Maude,
Partners In Philanthropy