Understanding Variants in Motivation and Building Trust as a Manager

Somya Jain

Partner at SWARM



As I transitioned from an individual contributor to a manager, I had assumed everyone was like me in terms of what motivated them. In reality, everyone was very different in how they motivated themselves, how they liked to be managed, and how they went about doing their best work. Realizing this took a fair amount of time and frustration.

Actions taken

  • "I try to have a personal relationship with everyone on my team, and not just from a professional perspective. I like to find out what motivates or excites them, as well as, what they are looking for in terms of challenges and then build on that through working together or one-on-ones."
  • "I am constantly asking my employees 'why' questions about the work they are producing in order to build a level of understanding. I focus on this at the individual level with both my team, as well as, clients and adjust my behavior to that."
  • "I aim to establish two-way trust, making it very clear where people can do their own thing, and contrarily, at times I will need to dive in deeper to tie up loose ends."

"A prime example of how these actions were able to come together for me was when a driven employee of mine came to tell me he was interested in data science & machine learning after a course he had taken. Three months down the road the opportunity presented itself to do a proof of concept recommendation engine and I asked him if he wanted to lead this effort."

Lessons learned

"In the aforementioned example, the employee was not only elated that I was taking a chance on him, but also because I had remembered something we had talked about several months before. I, in turn, was also happy because an interested and motivated person was going to figure out a crucial technology for our business. In this case, I was able to understand his motivations and what made him tick and help him take steps in that direction, which allowed me to become more trustworthy to this person. This is something I continuously aim for."

  • "Treat everyone as an individual because there is no one thing that works across the board for everyone. A manager of mine offered me this single piece of advice which really stuck with me over the years."
  • "I learned from the DISC (Dominant, Inclusive, Stable, Compliant) Profile program that everyone has a different profile and if you can understand that person's profile, then you can adjust your own communication patterns to match."

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Somya Jain

Partner at SWARM

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