I want to talk about how to make more money by understanding what REALLY motivates your boss. As you know, I try to make sure I include “make more” topics that are relevant to people who aren’t planning to go anywhere and want to make more money at their current jobs. I learned about this idea of understanding your boss’s hidden motivations from Stever Robbins. Stever is a Harvard MBA, a former CEO, an executive coach and host of the “Get it Done Guy” podcast. On Episode 44 I spoke with him about killer ways to ask for a raise and we touched on what motivates bosses, but didn’t get to explore it fully. So here’s more of my fascinating conversation with Stever.
I’ve heard you say if you meet your boss’s needs, you will be rewarded financially. What you do you mean by that?
You’ve heard managers say they’ll heap riches on those who do a good job. Ignore their words; watch their actions. Who do they really reward? Why? Mostly, we reward those who meet our needs, first and foremost. If you know what your managers really want, you can meet their needs while meeting the needs of the business.
Talk about the three motivations most bosses have and how to exploit them: power, affiliation and achievement.
The late Harvard psychology professor David McClelland had an easy framework you can use. McClelland said motivation comes in three flavors: power, affiliation, and achievement. Power People want things to happen their way. Affiliation People want to be popular and liked. And Achievement People want results. We’re all part power, part affiliation, and part achievement. Interestingly, we are taught that American business is all about achievement; it’s all that matters. But guess what—people don’t actually behave that way. They’re also driven by power and affiliation. “Working smart” means getting results, but even more, it means satisfying your boss’s needs for power and affiliation as well.
Do you actually bring up how you’re helping your boss with the 3 motivations when you ask for a raise?
we rarely acknowledge power and affiliation goals out loud. Those goals are considered unprofessional, even though they drive so many of us. So you need to frame your job in terms of achievement goals that will get you paid, while making it clear that you’ll meet your boss’s power and affiliation needs along the way. Trust me—as long as you’re helping a power-oriented boss expand their empire, you’ll be able to find a meeting of the minds about what you need to do to get paid and move ahead.
Notice that I’ve said very little about meeting the organization’s needs. That’s because only an executive who understands the link between their own needs and the organization’s needs will value your attempts to do the right thing for the business. In the final analysis, it isn’t between you and the company; it’s between you and the people who will promote and pay you.
That group consists of more than just your boss. Your boss’s boss and other senior managers may be watching. Your Power boss may report to an Achievement executive. If your efforts are visible to the exec, helping your boss achieve in a way that her boss recognizes might be your best strategy.