Flying First Class – 32 on the Upgrade List

Home The Savvy PM Blog Flying First Class – 32 on the Upgrade List

122 2 weeks ago, I’m traveling from Atlanta to California.  I drive to the airport to catch my flight, go through security, and walk to my gate with plenty of time to spare.  I look up at the monitor and see that all 26 seats in first class are full.  This tells me that everyone has checked in, and I should forget about a free upgrade.

But, wait – the monitor provides more information.  Hey – there’s my name on the “Upgrade List”…those that did not get in 1st class.  And, I’m listed as number 32 of 36.  36 of us need to take our assigned seats in the back of the plane next to the crying babies.     Wow.  Really?!  You had to show me how close I came?

Dear Airline Company: why do you feel compelled to report that piece of data?  How am I supposed to react to that?  This information DE-motivates me.  I felt foolish.  Why did I click the “possible upgrade” button weeks earlier when I bought the ticket?  Now, I’m feeling kinda stupid.

One theory of motivation is the Expectancy Theory, originally introduced by Vroom in 1964.  To put the theory in first-person terms, “expectancy” refers to the belief that my effort will result in attainment of the reward.  So, if I do THIS, I’ll get THAT.  There are several variables that affect perception, and one of those is whether or not you believe you can attain the goal.  (Yes, you may see a question on the PMP Exam related to Vroom’s Expectancy Theory!)

If you want to motivate a project team, build a plan or program that takes into consideration the expectancy theory.  Put yourself in the shoes of the team member and answer these questions:

How likely is it that my effort will lead to the desired performance?

Will that performance result in the desired outcome?

Can I actually earn the reward?

For you frequent flyers: I hope you have better luck when upgrading your flights!

Safe travels!