Process Theories of Motivation


Process Theories of Motivation 


What is “content” and what is “process” in leadership?

This is a practical tool to help you manage both the performance of your direct reports and the performance of your entire organization.

“Content” is the task, the issue, what employees are working on.

“Process” is how employees work together.  

An example of “content” is the decision your direct reports make during a meeting.

An example of “process” is the way in which they interact with one another during the meeting.

Content is tasks-oriented.

Process is relationship-oriented.


  • Process is hiring (the hiring processes that a company practices); content is the selected candidate that becomes the new employee.
  • Process is the nature in which day-to-day performance conversations take place between the manager and her direct reports; content is what gets talked about, understood, and agreed upon.
  • Process is the way in which people interact with each other in order to solve a problem; content is the actual solution to the problem.
  • Etc.


Most managers have the unconscious tendency to focus on content—which is great, that’s what they get paid for—but unfortunately most of them also have the unconscious tendency to forget about the process they are using.

However, the quality of the “process” that is used (the type of meeting that is used to make a decision for example), has an impact on the quality of the resulting “content” (if the meeting is poorly designed, the quality of the resulting decision is likely to be poorer, but if the meeting is well designed, the quality of the resulting decision is likely to be better).


The better the process used, the better the resulting content—the poorer the process used, the poorer the resulting content.

Do your direct reports hate meetings because they spend too much time in them? The problem is not in the meetings themselves, but in the way you run those meetings.

Do you have several low performers? The problem is not in those poor people who perform below standards, but in your leadership competencies.

Is your team lagging behind delivering expected results? The problem is not in elsewhere, but once again, in your leadership competencies.

The process by which you lead your team determines its long-term success.

A great team is successful in the long run not because of its products or services, but because of the nature of its leadership.

You can have the greatest product or service, but if you don’t have the appropriate leadership competencies, your team won’t get too far. It’s that simple.

The next time something doesn’t go as you wanted it to go, stop for a second, step back, get your focus off the content (tasks & results), and take a closer look at the process (your leadership competencies).

To get three foundational, key, and very powerful leadership competencies, get your FREE Personal Leadership Development Plan

This Plan will show you—in no unequivocal terms—three simple tools that will help you boost employee engagement and team performance. Check it out!