Consider Hygiene Factors and Motivation Factors in Startups

Recently I started reading Clayton Christensen’s new book How Will You Measure Your Life? after seeing it mentioned on a few blogs I read. Professor Christensen is the author of the famous business book The Innovator’s Dilemma as well as numerous other ones. Last Fall I had the opportunity to hear Professor Christensen give a talk at the Executive Summit for Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce event, which was documented as Notes from Clayton Christensen’s Disruptive Innovation Talk (I also saw him on campus at Duke and his son, a Duke grad, was in one of my economics classes).

This new book is part personal self-help and part business where different corporate theories are laid out in compressed form and then a personal or family analogy is introduced. One section I enjoyed reading about is the What Makes Us Tick chapter talking about the two-factor theory of hygiene factors and motivation factors.

The two-factor theory from the book (pg 32):

  • Hygiene factors – things like status, compensation, job security, work conditions, company policies, and supervisory practices (not that compensation is a hygiene factor and not motivation)
  • Motivation factors – things like challenging work, recognition, responsibility, and personal growth

Dan Pink’s book Drive, where he talks about autonomy, mastery, and purpose, is similar to motivation factors. For startups, it’s important to think through two-factor theory and work to build the best environment for the corporate culture. The next time a friend complains about his or her job, listen carefully to the reasons and ask yourself if it is hygiene factors or motivation factors.

What else? What are your thoughts on hygiene factors and motivation factors in startups?

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