Have you thought about what motivates you and your team?

Of course, no one believes it’s as simple as controlling a donkey, with a carrot as a reward and a stick as punishment.

A happy donkey thrives and is more productive. And for people doing highly skilled jobs like product management, it’s about internal rewards: feeling good about what we do.

Product management and product marketing roles can be very rewarding. There is always lots to do and you’re usually at the center of things. It’s a role that can endlessly stretch your abilities and get you involved with all parts of the business.

Frederick Herzberg’s theory on job motivation talks about hygiene factors. These are things that make us unhappy if they are missing but don’t necessarily motivate us if increased. For example, if a company’s internal policies are unfair or pay rates are considered poor it can affect our performance. However, once we’re happy with them, further improvements won’t persuade us to work any harder.

What does motivate us are things like completing important tasks, being recognized for our achievements and successfully taking on responsibility. For most of us, it’s more than just these – it’s being in control of our own destiny, creating new things and usefully contributing to something bigger than just ourselves.

So as a manager it’s not about control, it’s about trust. Set the goals, step back and let the team deliver.

Here’s a quick checklist of things that you can do to help…

  • Clear roadblocks for the team so they can get on with their jobs
  • Provide the tools and space so they can really perform
  • Shield the team from senior management vacillation
  • Provide feedback and training to help them improve themselves
  • Provide the big picture so they can see how what they do matters
  • Make work a fun and enjoyable place to be


Ian Lunn
Director, Product Focus

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