Recently I found out that a super smart web analyst had decided to take a job with another company where he felt like he would get what he needed. It caught me by surprise because I felt like I was giving him a really exciting opportunity.
I sat and talked with him about why he was leaving and it really came down to one big reason, he felt like he was in over his head and needed some more seasoning. He felt like his current job was a terrific opportunity for the right person, but he felt that he wasn’t the right person.
His resignation hit the same day that Capstrat released their millennials research.
Both of the above events happened as I was reading a great book from Daniel Pink on what really motivates people.
One of the basic motivations that Pink talks about in his book is mastery. That intrinsic motivation is what causes thousands of highly skilled, highly paid computer scientists to work long into the night and over weekends to contribute code to a project that is free and that they will never see a nickel from – Linux (or any one of the zillions of open-source projects).
It’s very possible that I missed two signals from one of our valuable millennial employees. The first signal is that millennials (here comes a giant generalization) don’t like to work alone, they prefer to be part of a group that they can bounce ideas off of and get support from. The second signal was a lack of significant progress towards mastery, possibly stemming from the first problem.
This perfect storm of events has made me appreciate that he was doing the right thing for him and that we had to find the right person for his old position.
Luckily I know a brilliant developer turned analytics expert. He has been toiling away within the newspaper industry for the last 5 years and I knew that some of his goals were not being realized. I also had a good idea of what motivates him from working alongside him for 3 or 4 years.
In Pink’s book he touches on 3 major topics in what he calls motivation 3.0:
- Autonomy: People want to have control over their work.
- Mastery: People want to get better at what they do.
- Purpose: People want to be part of something that is bigger than they are.
I felt that I could best his current employer on all 3 levels. I had him come in and run the interview gauntlet and everything went fine. Then I took the extra step of sitting down and writing an email explaining what I thought of as the real reason to leave his comfortable job for the uncertainty of a new company, a new role and a completely new type of corporate culture.
He would have complete control over the analytics department. He would be tasked with making it bigger, better and more crucial to all aspects of what the business does every day. He would be asked to stretch his knowledge to the breaking point. Reimaging data and making it easily understood. To become an evangelist for how analytics can change how you view everything.
Finally, I pointed out that if he stayed where he was, what was the path for him? I didn’t just mean from an org chart perspective. I meant, was he on a path where he saw the trajectory of career and life going where he hoped it would be 5 years ago.
In case you hadn’t noticed, I haven’t talked about money yet. That because our previous analyst didn’t leave because of money, and our new analyst didn’t take the position because of money. Don’t get me wrong, both received a bump in pay when they accepted their new positions, but it wasn’t the deciding factor.
What this entire episode has made me aware of is that many companies do a poor job of showing their current employees the type of carrots that would make a difference. I know I’m guilty of that and I bet if you’re honest you are to.
With the combination of so many millennials starting to move up the corporate ladders and their baby-boomer bosses not understanding their motivations maybe this is an opportunity for smart companies to feather their nest with the best and brightest by building an environment that is open to motivation 3.0.
If you have 10 minutes, watch this beautiful whiteboard artistry as you listen to Daniel Pink talk about what motivates us, I promise it will make your day better.