The Truth about motivation and Motivational Maps

April 25, 2016

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

I’m usually up for a challenge, and so I particularly enjoyed being challenged by both a Managing Director and a Chairman about the Maps recently.  And good for them!  I’m all for doing your homework first – after all my passion for growing sustainable businesses started when I was a Finance Director.girl-429020_1280

The truth is I knew that I didn’t know what motivated my team AND furthermore, I’m not convinced that I was particularly interested in engaging people in other teams.  After all, I was having too much fun trying out my own ideas to invite others to contribute.

It was too good to last… by which I mean, that strategy worked brilliantly in my own team where we worked closely to deliver results.  However, it limited the impact of the business improvements I was creating when I struggled to engage some key people.  In all honesty, I don’t think anyone else noticed – but I know, and would have loved to have seen just how much we could have increased Net Profit!

Now I’ve been advised not to speak about my own weaknesses – but I’m a bit old school.  I think the best teachers are those who’ve experienced it for themselves, have invested time, effort and money into finding a better way and then want to share that learning.  After all, we have a bit of a moan about politicians who haven’t experienced real life.  And all good leaders know you can’t learn management from a text book – people just aren’t that predictable.  And when I moved from Nottinghamshire to Poole (yes that’s where part of my accent is from), and found Motivational Maps – I immediately joined as a Business Practitioner (the highest level at the time).

And I spent another 2 years testing out the tool before I was trusted the tool to be able to recommend it without reservation.  That was 3½ years ago and a few hundred clients, so that’s why I enjoyed being challenged about the Maps.

I’ve kept you hanging on for long enough, so what is the truth about Motivational Maps?

Question:  Isn’t everyone motivated primarily by money?

Brief answer:  No – money (the Builder motivator) is just one of nine motivators, and rarely makes the top 3 somewhat surprisingly.  Of course people don’t know that, so they’re tempted by money because they think they’re supposed to be motivated by it (it’s more like they’re motivated by feeling valued) – but for most people, once they’ve got enough, it simply stops motivating them.  NB:  Builder is a great motivator for sales people as they’re motivated by winning, targets and commissions.  But there are no rights and wrongs – see ‘same behaviour – different motivator’ below.

Question:  Do the Maps reflect how someone’s feeling on the day, so tomorrow’s results could be completely different?

Brief answer:  No.  The Maps do reflect significant changes in someone’s life, e.g. a new job, a promotion or change in role, a first child, saving for a bigger house or first car, retirement and the death of a loved one.  We’ve seen all of these, and it’s always a relief for the individual to see how those changes are impacting what’s important to them.  For example – a bigger house, first car or retirement usually create a greater motivation for money (Builder), whilst a first child or death of a loved one usually increases the need for certainty (Defender).

Question:  Wouldn’t doing these frequently be a great way for you to make money?

Brief answer:  No – as it’s not in our interest or the clients.  We recommend repeating the Maps annually at most – unless there’s been a significant change (for the reasons described above).  The whole point of Motivational Maps is to measure and improve motivation – so demotivating people through over-testing and not using the information undermines both their organisation and the Maps.  It’s a matter of integrity.

Question:  Can I use the motivators to manipulate people?

Brief answer:  You can try – but that will only decrease your team’s trust in you, and they’ll work around you or leave.  So what’s the point?  You’ve a golden opportunity here – step up, or step out.

Question:  If someone’s 35% motivated (or even less!), does that mean they’re not performing their job well?

Brief answer:  Surprising no.  We’ve got clients who’ve been astounded to learn that people they perceived to be highly motivated, aren’t.  The individual wasn’t surprised and said they were bored by the job.  Performance, and feedback from clients, for these individuals can be very good – it’s just not sustainable as their ‘batteries’ are nearly empty.

In our experience there are 3 typical reasons for a score that’s in the Action Zone, i.e. 35% or less.

  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).

Question:  My report shows my ‘Creator’ motivator is very low – but how can that be true when I’m really innovative?

Brief answer:  So this is where the motivators get interesting.  You see many of us believe that other people are motivated by the same things as us, particularly if they’re interested in the same things.  That’s not true.  One of our favourite sayings is “same behaviour – different motivators”.  In this case, the individual was correct – evidence proves he’s extremely innovative, but it’s not driven by his Creator motivator.  It’s driven by his top motivators of Searcher (need to make a difference) and Spirit (need to break free and not conform), and with Creator low in his motivators he struggles to come up with a completely novel idea and doesn’t like change being imposed upon him.

Question:  Can we fake the answers?  I’d love to show I’m more customer focussed.

Brief answer:  Somewhat disappointingly (from a personal point of view) – no!  Let me explain that.  I keep trying to be excited about motivators which are low in my profile – in particular Star (public recognition which is great for PR) and Director (which is great for managing teams), but I just want other things more (like making a difference), darn it.  So if someone’s being honest, then it can’t be faked.  And if they’re trying to create a better impression of themselves, it comes out in the feedback – as they won’t be able to explain what the motivators mean to them personally.  I have experienced individuals ‘faking’ their motivation score, but they often go round telling people – so that doesn’t work either, and people in the Optimum Zone (80% or more) exude passion and that’s not easy to sustain if faked.

There’s SO much more I could share with you – like how can we get motivated by something we’re not motivated by, or how do the different motivators interact, or what’s the average motivation score for a team (60% in my experience), and why are leaders more motivated than their teams, will poorly motivated people leave and what are Organisational Maps and Change Index Scores ….  but for now, I’ll sign off with probably the most important lesson I’ve learned:

“Work with someone’s motivation rather than with what motivates you. And not everyone wants to be rescued – sometimes they’re just going for a swim.”

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.

Sideways Thinking 3 – Transformational Change

October 9, 2015

Paul Kinvig, Coach and Facilitator at Aspirin Business Solutions

Change Chance


When my son was much younger, he was fascinated by “Transformers” and often as the dutiful father I was required to play with them with him. He could “transform” them in seconds from a lorry or car to a planet threatening robot whereas (in all honesty) when I had finished with it, my transformer looked like it had been in a train wreck!!

Sideways thinking can significantly help with the concept of “transformational change” – defined in the Cambridge Dictionary (in their ‘business english’) as “a complete ​change in an ​organization, ​designed to ​bring about ​big​ improvements”

Let’s be clear, transformational change isn’t about tinkering, it’s about a real “left or right turn at the traffic lights!” which brings about “as the definition says, real improvements. It’s risky, scary & takes a huge amount of courage but here’s the thing……it’s not random or chaotic!! Yes it has, as part of its DNA, the acceptance of chance outcomes but it is a process that is decided upon & shaped by those appropriate within the organisation. It is not like a firework where once you’ve lit the blue touch paper you stand well back and watch it explode but rather a laser -powerful, focused & at its best unstoppable but always with a someone guiding it!

Take the Virgin Group – that organisation regularly goes through “transformational change” moving as it has from record label through gaming, cola, radio, air travel, to banking & space flight! As a business they are constantly taking “left turns at the lights” and not all of them work. However they are always in control them – both in terms of getting in & getting out!! They make the choice to “sideways think” and then use a process to give them the best possible chance to drive successful change.

Now you may well say, hold on a minute – that’s ok for global, multi-billion dollar mega companies but my organisation isn’t anywhere near that!!! Well maybe but the root decision for any size organisation is the same as regards transformational change and it is this “We won’t carry on as we are!” Now that maybe instigated by sector change, customer evolution, technological advancement or product obsolescence but it is always a conscious choice. When organisations build into their strategy & culture phrases such as

  • “We are not at the mercy of industry conditions”
  • “Instead of focusing on competitors we should look for a quantum leap in value for customers”
  • “We will not be constrained by what we have but rather what would we do if we were starting anew?”

then you know they are committed to the change because all of the above are conscious choices they have made underpinned by sideways thinking!

Here at Aspirin Business Solutions we encourage our clients to become receptive to and ideally drivers of change, taking more responsibility for their organisation’s success and, in doing so, their own success.  It is easy?  No.  However, it’s far better than the alternative of constantly adapting to change forced upon us.  And it’s often transformational for the individuals – empowering, reinvigorating and fun -creating what we call FASTER Teams i.e. teams who are Focused, Agile, Strong, Tenacious, Empowered and Real.  Worth us having a conversation?