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Keep morale up of volunteer translators by using Maslow pyramid!

Keep morale up of volunteer translators by using Maslow pyramid!

Welcome to the second part of the crowdsourcing post! 


In the first part, I explored the concept of crowdsourcing and the advantages/disadvantages of this model. 

In this second part, I will cover another fundamental component to figure out how to keep motivation up! Because motivation to succeed and moving forward it’s always necessary! 

The question is how can we motivate a team of volunteers? We don’t have some of the usual tools we have in a traditional environment to boost motivation; tools as a salary or other hygienic motivator factors such as access to education/training/workshops or support for a retirement plan, medical insurance etc etc

One of the main theories related to motivation is the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This theory affirms that people have needs, and in order to move from one level to another the needs of the previous level have to be completely fulfilled. 

I won’t extend much covering Maslow’s Hierarchy as there are plenty of resources on the Internet that explain in a great level of details this theory. Just feel free to google Maslow and many pages will appear, however, if you are a more visual person please see below video from one of my favorite movies. Up from Dreamworks 😃

 When we don’t have enough financial resources the focus is on the lower levels of the pyramid, we focus on getting enough money to rent an apartment, money to pay the bills and so on… luckily a volunteer translator is not at those low levels and this means s/he will be looking for different factors such as belonging and engagement, esteem and self-actualization…. However what I want to mention is that usually, a volunteer translator will be in the medium-high levels of the pyramid. And .....having our crowdsourcing gang in the middle of the pyramid it is a great place to be in the matrix of Maslow! Because when working with volunteers this pyramid can give us some tips on how we can motivate our translators to do a good job. Let’s not forget that even if the work is volunteered, we are aiming for a decent quality.

For this reason, keeping the morale up it’s important to achieve the dreamed results. 

In a recent study, it was found that 63% of American workers ranked recognition as a meaningful incentive
— Greene & Burke, 2007

Below I summarised 4 powerful ideas to improve morale and motivation:

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  1. Value publicly their contributions. If we say thank you often this will aid to keep volunteers engaged and motivated. When we thanks publicly their efforts they will feel (hopefully) that they are contributing to something, they can feel part of a tribe, and that’s exactly what happens in the third level Maslow pyramid. In that level, we are looking for a sense of “belonging”. As humans we have a need to fit in a group, volunteer translators might be looking for this as well. So saying thank you quite often or give them even a small branded gift of the product they are working will help to keep our crowdsourcers moral up!
  2. Create scoreboard hall of fame. This will be linked to the esteem level of the matrix pyramid. Esteem includes the needs for responsibility, reputation, prestige, recognition … and this is exactly what we can achieve by creating a hall of fame with the progress of our volunteer translators. Using a scoreboard will help us to keep motivated our volunteers. This is exactly how Facebook is approaching this volunteer initiative. In Facebook webpage, we can see a ranking of the most active contributors per week/month or the general one.
  3. Make them “visible” to the rest of the “world”. Another good idea to show respect and gratitude for our “crowdsources” is to make them real, this can be done through interviews where we can dig into their passions, hobbies … and why they enjoy volunteering to work for our project for free… by doing this we targeting to the highest level of the Maslow pyramid Self-actualization. People usually at this level are fine with their salaries with their safety and they are looking to contribute to a better world around them as a whole. Evernote is following this approach. Evernote is using the volunteer translators community to get their product translated into 25 languages. In the Evernote blog, we can read interviews and this is a great motivational approach to get the top contributors engage and visible to the rest of the world
  4. Create a ranking system to value contributions. A few years ago I was engaged testing a videogame providing support for the Linguistic review. In that platform, they have a system based on the quality of your work delivered. There were different parameters to measure our quality and then, we got some points that it will put us on a scale where eventually you might be ranked as Bronze Linguistic Specialist, Silver or even Gold! Being golds feels good! Even if it’s virtual gold! Implementing this ranking system can help to get translators engaged to move higher in the Maslow pyramid, because someone who originally joined to contribute and feel part of a team, might end up being in a healthy challenge with this competition to become a gold collaborator! which is totally related to self-actualization level, looking for being the best! the highest level of the pyramid.


As a said in my previous post, Crowdsourcing is not a solution that it’s valid for everybody, however, for those of you that crowdsourcing is a real possibility it’s good to keep in mind some of the above tips.

In the end, having motivated people is what will make the difference between a mediocre job and a good job. I hope you have enjoyed this post and please do not hesitate to share below some motivation techniques that you think might be useful when dealing with volunteer translators. Maybe through translation volunteer, we can contribute everyone to make this world a better world!

Meanwhile, have a fantastic day and let's do an effort to be HAPPY!


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