Motivation: Stick? Carrot? Or is there a third option?

May 1, 2018

As a former Finance Director I bring an unusual insight into motivation. In my quest to build a strong and highly profitable business, I loved direction, clarity, structure and processes. We’d become ISO accredited in Quality, Environmental and Health & Safety, and had excellent Business Operating Systems. But even I eventually realised that authority, financial controls, stick and carrot only get you so far. I found ourselves creating more processes to catch out the people who weren’t complying – before realising I just need to understand why.

Wasn’t it Einstein who said the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expect different results?

‘Why?’ is intangible and open ended. It might open up questions and thoughts that we don’t want to explore. It’s not as simple and clear cut as a nice process. BUT, if you are committed to significantly improve business performance, we need to move beyond authority, processes and control. And by ‘we’, I also mean ‘you’. This is not a challenge we can leave at HR’s door.

In a world that’s focused on productivity, it feels crazy to leave untapped ability on the table. The UK is 20% behind the rest of the G7 countries in terms of productivity, which simply means it costs more to do business in the UK. It means there less money in the UK economy for wages, innovation and the NHS. And yet, 64% of people say they have more to offer in their skills and talent than they’re currently being asked to use or demonstrate. That’s 20 million workers. (According to Engage for Success.)

And whilst motivation is not as definitive as a nice process – but it’s a far better way to do business, especially with today’s VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) environment and complex demographics.

So how do we motivate people?  Read more

If no one goes to work to be difficult, why are they?

February 14, 2018

“Whatever the question is, love is the answer.”

I love this quote. It reminds me to move my focus from the superficial noise and angst, onto ‘what really matters here’.  No one goes to work to be unhappy.  No one goes to work to deliberately antagonise others, to be difficult – and yet that’s what we experience.

People are complex – and that simultaneously makes them brilliant and challenging. Increasingly employees (and customers) are becoming more demanding – for a number of reasons, and they have higher expectations. This is forcing managers and leaders to re-evaluate their own roles and their own behaviour. Management used to be primarily around the management of tasks – it just happened that a primary resource was often human.  This stems from the industrial revolution when we were machine-centric, and the humans worked around the capability and physicality of the machines.  My first degree was in Ergonomics (the man-machine interface), so I understand this.

“This is forcing managers and leaders to re-evaluate their own roles and their own behaviour.”

We’re moving beyond this now, at an exponential rate, and managers HAVE to manage people – not just as a resource but as individuals. For some managers this is normal – the way they’ve always worked. For many it’s a huge challenge, and it’s a challenge to their identity, to the way they generate respect and action.  Skills training alone is not enough, so ticking the box on a management course just won’t create the changes required. That’s why I work with motivation first.

There a powerful story that Tony Robbins tells of a woman who pulls out her hair; pulls it out so her scalp bleeds and people avoid her. Tony explains that, however strange and illogical the behaviour, at some level it works for the person. Otherwise they wouldn’t continue to do it, and we have to address this first.  (In this case – it was a deliberate strategy to avoid being hurt by others by making herself so undesirable.)  At a simple level, that’s why we’ve all read books, been on training courses and applied little of what we’ve learned.  The motivation, the deep desire for a different outcome, has to come first.  As they say ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way.’  And we’ve all heard stories of people who overcome all sorts of challenges – because it mattered to them.

“However strange and illogical the behaviour, at some level it works for the person, and we have to address this first.”

So today – as it’s Valentine’s Day, if you experience others who are being difficult, why not take a moment to wonder ‘why’?  Love is a verb – and the most loving thing you can do today, might be to take a moment to understand what’s really going on for someone else.  #motivatedperformance

Why succession planning can be motivating

June 20, 2016

One of the greatest privileges of my life was to work alongside my father, and to help him retire both emotionally and financially successful (knowing his team and company would thrive without him).  So it may come as no surprise to find succession planning is close to our hearts at Aspirin Business. Read more

What motivates you to drive change in 2016?

June 20, 2016

At her debut Mindshop UK Conference for Business Advisors at the Waldorf Hilton Hotel in London, our Susannah Brade-Waring was asked to deliver a presentation on ‘What motivates you to drive change in 2016?” Read more

35% motivated or less! Take action.

April 16, 2016

Q&As for our Accredited Motivational Map Practitioners

by Susannah Brade-Waring, MD and Business Growth Coach & Facilitator at Aspirin Business Solutions

Map Action Zone

Q:  How do I provide feedback to someone with a very low Motivation Score, and how do I manage that within a Team Debrief?

A: Firstly – take heart.  Each time we’ve encountered this (which is about 2% of the time), the individual has confirmed the score accurately reflects their feelings.  So it’s not a surprise to them.  However, it can be a surprise to their manager, “If you’d asked us beforehand, we’d have said she was highly motivated.  She’s so bubbly and chatty.”


Let’s close out the Team De-brief first

We choose not to disclose personal Motivation details during team de-briefs.  We NEVER reveal an individual’s score, although they may choose to do so.  We only reveal an individual’s motivators (and de-motivators) with their permission.

So – what do we reveal?  The most common objective of a Team Motivational Maps Workshop is team-building, i.e. to increase the trust and understanding between team members.  Therefore, we:

  • reveal the motivators and de-motivators of the whole team,
  • (if it’s appropriate) their Motivation Score, and
  • their Change Index score (i.e. how change friendly or averse they are).

Then we discuss with the team how they can improve their own motivation, support each others’ motivation and how the motivators help and hinder achievement of their Team Objectives.

Keeping the Manager on-board

Sometimes it’s useful to state the obvious, just to reinforce or remind ourselves.  At the end of the day, it’s the manager’s team – so it’s our duty as coaches and trainers to keep the manager informed and on-board.

We always agree the way forward with the manager.  This is particularly important with someone’s whose motivation level is 35% or less (known in Motivational Map terms as ‘the Action Zone’), as it’s less easy to predict outcomes.

Finally, providing feedback to the individual

In our experience there are 3 typical reasons for a score that’s in the Action Zone, i.e. someone whose energy battery is only one-third full.

  1. They want to make a statement (not common, but it does happen).
  2. They genuinely don’t find their job fulfilling at a deep (soul, if you like) level, but they’re generally okay.
  3. They have significant challenges in their whole lives (including their personal lives) and, possibly, some level of depression.

In all 3 cases, the individual knows they’re not particularly happy.  As with all coaching, we know the answer lies within the individual, so we ask.  We ask if they’re surprised.  We ask what it means, or what’s happening?  And they tell us.

Our absolute Golden Rule, especially with Motivational Maps, is to be very respectful of the insight we’re privileged to have.  There are no rights or wrongs with the Motivational Maps (just one of the reasons we love them).  They are an accurate reflection of how the person is feeling, and we can help them to work WITH their motivators.  So, given the respect we show, the individuals open up and share what’s going on.  Now depending on how much they share and how quickly, will give you a rough indication of whether their reason is 1, 2 or 3.

  • Reason 1s will usually tell you straight away as they’re either looking for action, or they’re in the process of taking it.
  • Reason 2s will often offer to explain, and
  • Reason 3s will often talk around the subject, at least initially.

Then we rely on our skill and experience as coaches.

A few key points:

  1. The lowest possible Motivation Score on Motivational Maps is 10%.  So 35% or less, is very significant.
  2. People with this level of motivation have ‘allowed’ their motivation to get this low, indicating they don’t have the energy, the motivation or the strategies to know how to improve this.
  3. In our experience, Reason 2 and 3 individuals tend to stay with their current organisation.  It may be because they’re comfortable in their current roles, they like the organisation or have friends, or sometimes it’s because they don’t feel the need to be motivated at work – “It’s a job”, “I’m doing okay”, “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t need to be.”
  4. Small changes – tweaks in job roles, extra support etc… don’t improve motivation at this level.  As one individual told her manager, “It’s not your job to motivate me.”  This came as a surprise, but a relief to him, as he really wanted to help.  She was basically saying, “There’s a bigger challenge here, and it’s mine to deal with.”  Helping these individuals to find their own solution, e.g. believing they can, is often the only way their motivation scores will improve.  Hence the requirement for highly-skilled coaching.

SIGNIFICANTLY, these individuals can be productive – hence why their managers are often surprised.  They can be delivering on their role and loved by their customers.  It’s just unlikely to last (because they can’t sustain the energy requirement), they’re more likely to have extended time off (because of their low energy and therefore resilience) AND they have so much more potential – if only they had more motivation.

For more information, or to talk through specific Motivational Maps in confidence, please get in touch.