Saturday, February 18, 2012

Collaboration, Content and Choice

Alfie Kohn defines the 3 Cs of motivation as being collaboration, content and choice.  How do these affect our motivation?

Collaboration:  most people prefer and are able to do a better job in groups than alone - this is especially true if the tasks are complex and require originality and creativity.  People working together are pooling their talents and resources and also provide other group members with emotional support.  People are more enthusiastic about working in places where they feel they belong or are part of a community.

Content: people want an interesting and enjoying job that is also worthwhile - they like to feel they are making a difference and that they are committed to a job that is an important one (I think this is certainly true of teachers).  Other factors about a job's content that increase motivation are learning new skills so that employees can acquire and demonstrate competence, and variety in the tasks they have to do.  People prefer challenging work to "easy" work.   From a personal point of view the times in my life when I've upped my motivation, are when I have made a choice to change job, which has involved acquiring new skills and has increased the variety in what I've been doing.  This hasn't always involved changing school, for example I moved from being a secondary social studies teacher to being a primary homeroom teacher and then a few years later I moved from being a homeroom teacher to being a specialist teacher again when I started teaching IT - and all of this was in the same school.  Later, at a different school I taught IT in the primary and then went back to teaching Geography in secondary.  On the other hand being denied opportunities to move in new directions has certainly been a demotivating factor for me now, as at a different school again I have been criticized for applying for different "internal" jobs and asking for PD in areas that are not directly related to IT in my attempt to acquire new skills and develop more variety in my job.  This led to the feeling that the only way to grow as a professional was to move on somewhere else.

Choice:  we are most likely to be motivated when we are free to make decisions about how we carry out our work.  This is what Daniel Pink refers to as autonomy.  Alfie Kohn describes the loss of autonomy as something that saps our motivation.

What happens to people who go for long periods of time being demotivated.  Alfie Kohn says this feeling of being powerless or being controlled is what leads to burn-out.  More about this in another blog post.

Photo Credit:  Warp jump by Ryan Gallagher AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike

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