4 key components to workplace motivation

Paul Nolan

As an early product leader for LinkedIn, the head of product for Pinterest and now Affirm, Jack Chou has been part of his fair share of high-flying startups. He knows the chaos that is caused by accelerated growth, but he also knows that employee engagement and motivation can’t be assumed just because the work environment is hard-charging.

Chou identifies four key components to workplace motivation, which he visualizes as a pyramid. Here’s a look:

Mission – To achieve lasting motivation, you need to ensure that your team understands how their work benefits the company as a whole. Chou recommends giving teams the opportunity to share what they’re working on with the rest of the organization, and repeat your mission often – and in plenty of different mediums.

Goals – Once people internalize a sense of ownership over their work, they’ll need clear goals to hone their intuition and sustain motivation. “There’s almost nothing more clarifying than if you can tell a team, ‘Hey this is it. This is the target. You’re right. Go hit this,’” says Chou. “When you orient around a goal, you can also celebrate the right wins, another important way to keep teams aligned and enthusiastic.”

Ownership – Chou advises managers to emphasize a culture of ownership, pushing team members to embrace their responsibility if it doesn’t happen naturally. “As a leader, your job is to equip people with the right context for decision-making, then help them build the confidence to act decisively.”

People – Chou says when team dynamics falter, it’s usually because of understaffing or interpersonal friction. If heads are butting early in a partnership, give it time.