Motivation: to provide a motive. Ok, so what is it that provides a motive for people to work hard, to perform, to reach their goals? And if there are differences among cultures – for example Germany and the USA – re: motivation, what exactly are those differences?
Although compensation (Gehalt) is important to Germans, it is only one of several factors which motivate them. Nor is it the most important. Germans simply want to be compensated fairly.
Compensation, literally money earned at the end of the month, is by far the most important factor which motivates Americans to work hard, meet goals, and improve.
Most, but not all, Germans hope to advance within the hierarchies of their organisations. But only if it is line with their area of expertise and work experience. And allows them to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
In the U.S. career advancement is second to compensation in importance. Americans strive to move up the hierarchy. In fact, advancement often brings with it a significant increase in compensation. They go hand-in-hand.
Job security is for Germans the most important motivating factor. Germans strive for stability, predictability, security. Ideally they’ll work for one employer, in one location, over their entire career.
Americans know that no job is truly secure. Job security comes only through being valuable to the organisation, continuous skills development, steady career advancement, and constant exposure to new opportunities.
Germans want to work in subject matter areas in line with their education, training and job experience. The goal is to deepen subject matter expertise. The German economy, therefore German companies, value the specialist more than the generalist.
Americans want to work in subject matter areas which offer solid compensation, a clear path for advancement, and increasing opportunities and options. The American economy, therefore American companies, value the generalist more than the specialist.
Work-life balance is of such extraordinary importance to Germans that it is imbedded in their labor laws, in how their companies treat their employees, in their expectations as a society.
Until recent years work-life balance had been of far less importance to Americans. It is not imbedded in their labor laws. U.S. companies do not yet see it as their responsibility. Work-life balance has, however, become a topic of intense discussion within American society.