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Lessons Learnt Chasing A Dream: Leadership, Motivation and Hertzberg’s Hygiene Factors

Keith Coats, the man who was both my mentor and mentoree, helped me realise that helping people unlock their true potential meant they needed to be motivated and inspired.

Keith Coats, the man who was both my mentor and mentoree, helped me realise that helping people unlock their true potential meant they needed to be motivated and inspired.

There are many different leadership styles and ways of motivating staff, but Keith approached motivation in a similar way to Fredrick Hertzberg.

If you aren’t familiar with Hertzberg, he was an American psychologist famous for his model of motivation theory. Hertzberg suggested people aren’t only motivated by what he referred to as ‘Hygiene Factors’ in a work environment.

What are ‘Hygiene Factors’? They are the basics aspects of employment that need to be met to make sure employees feel satisfied in their jobs. Here are Hertzberg’s ‘Hygiene Factors’:

  • Job security
  • Compensation
  • Organisational politics
  • Relationships
  • Working conditions
  • Quality leadership

These factors aren’t tools that can be used to motivate people or increase job satisfaction. Hertzberg’s theory suggests that motivation and job satisfaction don’t rely on one another. Employees can actually be satisfied in their jobs but demotivated at the same time.

Often, leaders make the mistake of trying to use ‘Hygiene Factors’ to motivate people. I say ‘mistake’ because ‘Hygiene Factors’ may provide a short-term increase in job satisfaction, but they don’t successfully motivate people.

But, that’s not to say hygiene factors aren’t important. They are a good foundation for motivation and good leadership means making sure they are met:

  • Compensation: Make sure your team is earning a fair and market-related salary.
  • Quality leadership: Invest in your team. Constantly work on their skills and develop their ability to lead.
  • Job security, relationships, working conditions and organisational politics: Create a stable environment, a good culture and look after every member in your team.

How To Motivate And Why:

Ultimately, ‘Hygiene Factors’ alone aren’t motivators because people are driven by an entirely different set of factors. Keith Coats showed me that employees and staff are motivated by the following:

  • Recognition:

Leaders should thank and give praise to team members who add value to their company. Recognition should be clear and public. This isn’t about ego boosting, but rather a way to show your team you value them, as well as reinforce their self-belief.

  • Responsibility:

Make your team members responsible for their own success. Showing your team you trust and respect enough to let them get their job done positively affects your company culture and motivates your team to try harder.

  • Achievement:

David Novak’s “Taking People with You: The only way to make big things happen” taught me that for leaders to achieve a goal, they must create hope in their people. Leaders have the responsibility to inspire hope; hope that the goals we’ve set before our team are achievable.

  • Job satisfaction

Give people the opportunity to take on something new and tackle something that will truly challenge them. Protecting people from failure means there’s no room from them to learn and grow.

  • Opportunities:

Provide people with the opportunity to grow. Taking ownership of their work gives people the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and allows them to improve their quality of work.

  • Advancement

Once your team has started unlocking their potential, there needs to be somewhere for them to grow within your business. Leaders need to ensure there are opportunities available that match the ambitions and goals of their people.

Keith Coats reverse mentorship and my passion for helping people win were what helped me realise leadership isn’t just about leading. Business is about people and it requires a passion for helping people achieve their own goals and dreams.

I’ve found that motivation and job satisfaction lies in not only in achieving your business goals, but helping your team achieve their individual goals.


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