Achievement motivation is essentially a need for success or accomplishments. In employees, it includes the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that drive a worker toward goals or accomplishments. As a small-business owner, understanding your own level of achievement motivation as well of that of your managers and employees is important. Though it can drive performance, achievement motivation does also present some challenges.

Individual and Team Conflicts

A challenge with achievement motivation is that different workers are motivated toward different types of success. Some workers feel more gratification from individual pursuits and accomplishments, while others may have more inclination toward work group or team successes. The disparity makes it difficult for company leaders to develop compensation and motivation systems that address the needs of all workers. In a highly team-oriented structure, group conflicts can result from employees with different types of motivation.

Need for Control

People with high achievement motivation are typically driven either by the desire to feel accomplishment, the desire to look good to supervisors, co-workers or customers, the fear of failure or a combination of these factors. As a business owner, your burning desire for business success and profit may contribute to overemphasis on control in operations and decision-making. Additionally, managers and employees driven to success may instinctively want similar control over the work and outcomes. This can challenge your abilities to develop a collaborative workplace focused on shared vision and goals.


Closely tied to the desire to control work situations and outcome is a higher propensity for stress. People desperately driven to accomplishment may feel frustration, hopelessness or stress when a problem or setback occurs. While high achievers usually work through temporary setbacks, they often experience stress from trying to predict the unpredictable or to pre-empt negative factors. Additionally, achievement motivation is perpetual. Once a high achiever accomplishes a desired outcome, he simply raises the bar for the next project or time frame.

Extreme Task-Oriented Leadership

A manager's level of relational emphasis to his level of task-orientation helps form his leadership style. Balancing these factors is critical to motivating employees while accomplishing tasks efficiently. As a small-business owner or manager, you have to guard against the potential that your achievement motivation can lead to extreme task-oriented leadership. An incessant desire for more profit or better efficiency may cause you to micromanage or oppressively direct employees without consideration of their needs or desire to participate in decisions. Over time, this may cause a negative work environment and turnover.