Example of KEYS Evaluation of the Environment Affecting Motivation

Motivation is a term that is often not well defined. As a way to make an individual’s and organization’s motivation visible, Teresa Amabile worked with the Center for Creative Leadership to create a “KEYS Survey” that looks at the work environment affecting motivation. The organizational results of individuals taking such a survey are shown in the “Example of KEYS Evaluation of the Environment Affecting Motivation” figure.

Scale Definitions of the KEYS (WEI) Instrument

The Work Environment Inventory is a 78 multiple choice item assessment tool (see Appendix 1 at the end of this Chapter). The tool uncovers the stimulants and barriers to creativity that exist in a company, division, or work group. It is not a 360 degree instrument nor a leadership assessment for development tool. Rather it is a climate survey with the specific goal of looking at creativity and innovation in the work place. The major elements are defined in the “Scale Definitions of the KEYS (WEI) Instrument” figure.

By conducting KEYS (WEI) assessments on a daily, weekly (recommended frequency), or monthly basis, technical leadership can find strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to its goal of creating and leading a strong innovative organization. Weekly trends in the results provide statistical process control insight into removing special causes of motivational decline as well as improving the overall environment to steadily improve innovation levels. It is a fast, easy to utilize tool that provides actionable information for improved performance. That said, senior technical leaders have to look themselves in the mirror if the results don’t meet their expectations and needs. Teresa showed in her research the strong impact of a Senior Technical Leader’s style and capability on work environment motivational factors.

when thinking about how to design work environments that are highly motivational, Jane McGonigal advocates that work should be structured as a game. This is because when you strip away the different genre differences and the technological complexities; all games share four defining traits also characteristic of highly motivated organizations: a goal, rules, a feedback system, and voluntary participation. When these four elements are present in a game or in a workplace, people will spend extraordinary amounts of productive time in this environment.

The GOAL is the specific outcomes that players will work to achieve. It focuses their attention and continuing orients her participation throughout the game. The goal provides players with a sense of purpose.

RULES place limitations on how players can achieve a goal. By removing or eliminating the obvious ways of getting to the goal, the rules push players to explore previously uncharted possibility spaces. They unleash creativity and foster strategic thinking.

The FEEDBACK SYSTEM tells players how close they are to achieving the goal. They can take the form of points, levels, a score, or progress bar. Real-time feedback serves as a promise to the players that the goal is definitely achievable, and it provides motivation to keep them playing.

Finally, VOLUNTARY PARTICIPATION requires that everyone who’s playing the game knowingly and willingly accepts the goal, the rules, and the feedback. Knowing this establishes common grounds for multiple people to play together. And the freedom to enter or leave the game at will ensures that intentionally stressful and challenging work is experienced as a safe and pleasurable activity.

Work environments constructed as games provide intrinsic rewards which are most essential to human happiness. Positive intrinsic rewards fall into four major categories.
First and foremost, we crave satisfying work, every single day. The exact nature of the satisfying work is different from person to person, but for everyone it means being immersed in clearly defined, demanding activities that allow us to see the direct impact of our efforts.
Second we crave the experience, or at least the hope, of being successful. We want to feel powerful in our own lives and show off to others that were good at it. We want to be optimistic about our own chances for success, to aspire to something, and to feel like we’re getting better over time.
Third, we crave social connection. Humans are extremely social creatures and even the most introverted among us derive a large percentage of our happiness from spending time with the people we care about. We want to share experiences and build bonds, and want to most often accomplish that by doing things that matter together.
Fourth, and finally, we crave meaning or the chance be part of something larger than ourselves. We want to feel curiosity, awe, and wonder about the things that unfold on epic scales. Most importantly, we want to belong to and contribute to something that has lasting significance beyond our own individual lives.

These four kinds of intrinsic rewards are the foundation for optimal human experience, and thus also a motivating workplace. These are the most powerful motivations we have other than our basic survival needs of food, safety, and sex. And what these rewards all have in common is they are all ways of engaging deeply with the world around us, with our environment, with other people, and with the causes and projects bigger than ourselves. Robust Human Capital Strategic Plans provide for each of these four kinds of intrinsic rewards.