Motivational Series – Part 2

Individual Motivation

In continuation of my first blog on motivation, I would like to take a look at individual motivation. I mentioned four key building blocks to motivation in the first blog that we need to build on for the next three. As you will recall, the four key building blocks focused on seminal works in behavioral, psychodynamic, cognitive and humanistic. The question is, “how can you apply this knowledge to your application of individual motivation?”
I would like to suggest a four-pronged approach to building each of the four areas:

1. Behavioral:
a. Applying continuous performance management
b. Maintaining skills/ competency training

2. Psychodynamic:
a. Leveraging emotional intelligence
b. Developing open communication channels with effective feedback

3. Cognitive:
a. Coaching and mentoring
b. Building vision, mission and goals together

4. Humanist:
a. Cultivating a culture of learning and flexibility
b. Utilizing situational leadership

Continuous Performance Management refers to going beyond the simple annual formal evaluations. Make time for many informal reviews throughout the year with open communication and opportunity for role/job clarification and review.
I also suggest proactively planning training that is focused on required skills, competencies and observed skills. Training needs to be forward looking. Remember that you not only have to get work done today, but you have to build people for tomorrow. This is even more important if your workforce is close to retirement.

To meet the needs of your staff on the psychodynamic level, I would suggest two main things: 1. Development of emotional intelligence; and 2. Effective, open channels of communication.
EI (emotional intelligence) is often considered to be more important than IQ (intellectual quotient) once people make it into the workplace. Your EI determines your ability to work with others, negotiate, facilitate, coach, mentor and lead. There are a multitude of EI assessment tools, books, courses and consultants. To get started, check out, “Emotional Intelligence 2.0.” It’s an excellent book that also offers access to an online EI assessment tool covered by the cost of the book.
In addition, you will need to establish an environment conducive to getting work done. This will require open channels of communication. Think about what you have in place right now. How do people communicate? What tools are they using? Are they as effective as they could be? If not, what changes can you make?

To build on your effective work environment, you will need to add a few more layers. First of all, you need to provide supportive coaching and mentoring. People have brains that need to be challenged, engaged and maintained. Do you build time into your schedule for ongoing coaching and mentoring of your staff? How much face time are you willing to provide?
From a cognitive perspective, we need to understand the vision, mission, goals and objectives and our roles therein. To make this even more powerful, try developing the vision, mission, etc. together as a team. The result will be greater buy-in and enthusiasm.

Take what we have learned from the humanist perspective into account by developing a true culture of learning and flexibility. This requires decentralized authority, more autonomy, freedom to make decisions, mistakes and to challenge the status quo.
Beyond that, I suggest applying a situational leadership approach to your management style. This translates into applying a different approach to each individual staff member. For example, spend more time with a junior staff member. Give them the required guidance and support that they need. In contrast, give your senior staff members’ complete freedom to determine “HOW” they deliver their work. This is especially true if you have SME’s (subject matter experts), working for you that know more about their work than you do. Outside of determining scope together, along with a discussion of constraints, schedule and budget, let them decide “HOW” they intend to complete their work.

Larry Barnard

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