3 Reasons Why Your Performance At Work Is Not What It Should Be

Job Performance

describe work performance

 The advice columnist, Amy Dickerson responded to this question about job performance and motivation. The question was:

I am a 52-year-old administrative assistant who is burned out. I take full responsibility for not having a career area that I find interesting. Returning to college studying business did not go well and I had to drop out. Career counseling has not worked.I am lost about what I should do about this. I would love to find a meaningful solution to the situation that I alone have gotten myself into.Lost and Confused

Here is Amy’s response:

Sometimes, if you feel stuck or burned out, it helps to look outside your current situation and make a deliberate effort to look for inspiration. If you are able to do this, it should lead to an increase in your energy and self-esteem. Group exercise classes, teaching children and performing music do it for me — volunteering at your local food bank and attending gallery nights or other cultural happenings might do it for you.You might find inspiration by scrolling through some TED talks — inspiring short lectures conducted by innovators, scientists and creative thinkers. Via providencejournal.com

Warning: Amy’s Job Performance Advice

motivational tips

None of Amy’s suggestion will help, “lost and lonely”. Why? Because “lost and lonely” feels helpless and hopeless, he or she is depressed. I’m going out on a limb here but, anyone who signs an email, “lost and lonely” is not a happy camper. The 52-year-old tried returning to school but, “it didn’t go well”. In addition, the individual tried counseling and that failed. Amy’s advice to the struggling worker reads like socialite’s entertainment calendar. But what if, “Lost and Lonely” felt Amy’s guidance was sound and followed her suggestions to the tee. I’m afraid, exercise classes, teaching children, volunteer work and scrolling through TED talks won’t affect his or her motivation at work. 

 Motivations Drive Performance

In 1960’s and 70’s employers deliberating over who would be successful employee based their decisions on educational achievement, personality, and IQ testing. However, an experimental psychologist, David C. Mc Clelland, who pioneered research investigating achievement and motivation, differed from the hiring trends of the 60’s and 70’s. He suggested that an individual’s motivations were the best predictor of success in the workplace.

how to find motivation

McClelland’s Theory of Needs 

Through his research, McClelland identified the three key motivations he believed influenced job performance: the need for power, for achievement, and for affiliation. Although we all have all three motivations, McClelland maintained one would be dominant. It was the main motivation that shaped their job performance. 

  1. The Need for Power McClelland saw the need for power, or control over others, as the most important motivation for a good manager or leader. But only if the manager’s need for power is on behalf of the organization or company. If a supervisor or manager had a strong drive for personal power, they wouldn’t work well as a part of a team.
  2. The Need for Achievement: High-quality work comes from the need for achievement. The drive to achieve is a more accurate predictor of job success than intelligence because it gives you a competitive edge, helping you reach for new goals and improve.
  3. The Need for Affiliation: The need to have good relationships with others helps you to work well within a team.  However, if affiliation is your strongest need you’re unlikely to be a successful manager.

We’re not fully aware of our own motivations because they’re deeply fixed in our unconscious. So, what you say about your motives during a job interview should not be taken at face value. McClelland suggested using a projective test called the, Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) as a way of revealing a job candidates underlying abilities and motivations. 

theories of motivation



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