Happiness and Motivation

June 20, 2015

HappinessWe touched on the ‘power of happiness’ a couple of years ago in an article looking at the dramatic improvement in the performance of the Australian cricket team caused by the change from a coach focused on ‘driving individual performance’ to one focused on ‘creating a performing team’, that improvement in performance continues to the present time (see The Power of Happiness). This post takes a wider look at the way happiness (and unhappiness) affect both the people working in an organisation and the organisation itself.

Everyone wants a motivated and productive workforce, there seems to be a direct link between worker satisfaction, motivation and performance – a happy workplace tends to be a productive workplace; and there is definite evidence that unhappy and de-motivated workers are less productive. What is less clear is does motivation generate happiness or are happy people more inclined to be motivated and productive?

Looking at the negatives first, a 2010 survey by the Australian Institute of Management, of more than 3,000 business people revealed that negativity, apathy and disillusionment are present in the executive ranks of many Australian organisations:

  • 40% of respondents surveyed did not feel appreciated by their employer.
  • 20% of participants expressed negative sentiments about working at their current organisation.
  • Almost one in three of those surveyed criticised the workplace culture of their organisation.
  • 34% of respondents admitted they could be putting more effort into their current role.
  • 33% of those we surveyed said they are considering leaving their employer.

Surveys in the USA have shown similar trends with up to one third of the workforce disengaged or actively working against the interests of their employer, and nothing much seems to have changed in the period since the surveys.

One of the largest employer’s world-wide is the UK Civil Service headquartered in Whitehall London. The wellbeing of its workforce has been studied over many years, starting in 1967, with the findings published in the ‘Whitehall Studies’ (see: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/WhitehallII). The focus of these studies is the health of the Civil Service workforce, but there are strong links between wellbeing and motivation.

The Whitehall Studies and similar studies in Europe and Australasia show a clear relationship between position in the social hierarchy and mortality. This social gradient is present for most of the major causes of death, and has dispelled two myths. The first is that people in high status jobs have higher risks of heart disease. The second is that the gradient of health in industrialised societies is simply a matter of poor health for the disadvantaged and good health for everyone else. This aspect of heath outcomes is important, but outside of the control of any manager.

Whilst most managers within organisations cannot do much about the external factors affecting health and wellbeing (although good employers do a lot in this area) they can have a major influence on the work environment which is the other major factor in the overall wellbeing of all employees. The studies conclusively demonstrate that a motivated, happy, workplace is more productive and has better health outcomes than an unhappy one.

Within this aspect of wellbeing, the key finding from the Whitehall studies is that stress at work is the number one cause of lost time, but understanding ‘stress’ so it can be managed is not straightforward. Conventional wisdom has it that a stressful job is one characterised by a high degree of pressure and responsibility. New research, to which Whitehall II contributed, shows that negative stress at work tends to result from an imbalance between the psychological demands of work on the one hand and the person’s degree of control over the work on the other. The combination of high demand and low control generates stress leading to measurable increases in illness; with low control being especially important. ‘Figure 2’ below taken from Whitehall II clearly shows people in jobs characterised by low control have higher rates of sickness.

Whitehall-2

High demand on its own appears to be far less damaging – for many people a ‘stretch assignment’ or new challenge may be demanding but the ‘positive stress’ associated with tacking the challenge by using skills, including opportunity for developing skills, if managed correctly is a stimulus to enhanced performance.

The other antidote to negative stress is the team environment. Working with supportive colleagues and managers improves health and reduces sickness as shown in ‘Figure 3’ below:

Whitehall-3

Another controllable factor is the balance between effort and reward. High effort in the work place is a desirable quality. The Whitehall findings demonstrate that high effort must be matched by appropriate rewards. The way work is organised and the climate of feedback in the workplace all potentially affect each of the three crucial aspects of rewards; self-esteem, status and income (I will discuss rewards in the next post).

 

Creating a happy, committed, high performance team.

The Whitehall II study focused on illness and the negatives in a workplace, the place I want to finish the post is on the positives of creating a happy and productive workplace.

As a starting point, almost all of the negative influences on health defined in the Whitehall reports are juxtaposed to well established motivational theories – provide people with the right motivation and you eliminate most of the problems defined above.  The evolution of these theories has been outlined in our post The Evolution of Motivation and the various xxx are defined in our White Paper WP1048 – Motivation.

The key is designing the work so that everyone in the team experiences:

  1. Job satisfaction
  2. Good relationship with co-workers
  3. Good relationship with their manager
  4. New and interesting challenges
  5. Feeling valued by the organisation.

Once these elements are in place, the key challenge is allowing people to enjoy working. In this respect setting hard targets can be counterproductive!  A target is a predetermined level of performance that people are expected to achieve, the problem is if people have the know-how to achieve the target, there is little motivation to surpass the target. But if they do not have the know-how to achieve the target, they are left with two options: distort or game the system.  Goals may cause systematic problems in organisations due leading to unethical behaviour, increased risk taking, decreased cooperation, and decreased intrinsic motivation. As the ongoing banking crisis has demonstrated, aggressive goal setting within an organization will foster an organisational climate ripe for unethical behaviour (see more on this in: The normalisation of deviant behaviours).

Shift from ‘management setting targets’ to a process of challenging everyone to help move the organisation from where it is now to where it needs to be and you encourage the achievement of the best possible outcome.

–  Challenge people and teams to improve the way work is done by redesigning their work methods.
–  Challenge them to develop systems that provide clear business value.
–  Challenge them to devise an architecture that will meet future growth projections.
–  Challenge them to create new products that will be successful in the marketplace.

Challenges empower people; they provide the opportunity for autonomy and mastery in pursuit of a clear purpose (all strong intrinsic motivators).  Then all that is needed is for leaders to respect and acknowledge the individuals in their team, provide support and protection to the team, and importantly to celebrate the successes of the team (see The Power of Happiness). But remember, leadership is not a position description – see more on the attributes of a leader.

happiness-3

The challenge for a leader is to create the environment for happiness to flourish, a supportive and successful team. After that it is largely up to each individual to decide to enjoy the opportunity to ‘be happy’!  To an extent the multitude of self-help advice on the subject is correct, each person decides if they wish to be happy of miserable. The good new is happiness tends to be contagious, in the right environment it only takes one or two happy souls to start the ball rolling and over a relatively short period of time most people will ‘learn to be happy’.  For the few who insist on spreading negativity and unhappiness, remember another trait of high performance leaders is “getting the right people on the bus, [and the] the wrong people off the bus “ (Jim Collins – Good to Great).

In summary – a well led, motivated team will be a happy team and happy teams are productive teams.  They are great to lead and great to be part of!   The alternative is the type of problems identified in the Whitehall studies.  The challenge is creating the culture change needed to allow people to enjoy working on your team – it may not be easy, but it is worth the effort.


The Evolution of Motivation

May 29, 2015

Everyone talks about ‘motivation’ – the purpose of this post is to briefly track the key concepts and theories.

The framework for modern management is firmly rooted in the concepts of scientific management developed during the industrial revolution, formalised by Frederick Taylor and the Gilbreths. Workers were closely supervised, the method of working designed in detail (time and motion studies) and payments were based on work accomplished (piece rates). Where piece rates were not practical, supervision was intensified[1].

This approach aligns with ‘Theory X’ developed by Douglas McGregor[2] in the 1960s, in which managers believe individuals are inherently lazy and unhappy with their jobs, and as a consequence an authoritarian management style is required to ensure fulfilment of objectives.

The first steps towards McGregor’s ‘Theory Y’ (which assumes given the correct leadership, employees can be ambitious, self-motivated, exercise self-control and are willing to take on some amount of professional responsibility to achieve the objectives) came from the work of Henry Gantt.

Gantt’s approach to motivating workers involved training and paying bonuses for achieving production targets. A worker received a reasonable wage, was paid whilst being trained and both the worker and his foreman received bonuses once the worker had learned to achieve the production target. Gantt was fully aware of culture and the need for people to want to succeed but did not develop a ‘motivational theory’ as such[3]. The other limitation is this type of motivation is ‘extrinsic’ and can be very effective in the right circumstances. However, this type of motivation only works where the work items can be counted

One of the first people to develop a true motivational theory was Abraham Maslow.

 

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs[4]

In his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation”, Maslow states the five levels of the hierarchy of needs as Physiological, Security, Social, Esteem, and Self-actualizing.

  • Physiological needs are described as those needed for survival such as food, water, and sleep.
  • Security needs include safety, steady employment, and shelter from the environment.
  • Social needs include the need for love, affection and being part of a team or group.
  • The need for esteem is centred on the individual’s personal worth, social recognition, and accomplishment.
  • The highest need is self-actualization, which is where the individual is less concerned with other’s opinions and is more focused on achieving their full potential.

maslow-hierarchy

A point worth noting is that Maslow stated that the predominance of a need assigned by the individual determines its’ importance not the order presented.  This point is brought up because Maslow’s theory is commonly represented as a pyramid and the assumption that the first need must be satisfied before the next need is even addressed.

 

Vroom’s Expectancy Theory of Motivation[5]

VroomVroom developed his Expectancy theory (1964) through his study of the motivations behind decision making. It proposes that an individual will decide to behave or act in a certain way because they are motivated to select a specific behaviour over other behaviours due to what they expect the result of that selected behaviour will be (ie, their expectations based on pervious experience or observation).  This theory emphasises the needs for organisations to align rewards directly to desired performance and to ensure that the rewards provided are both deserved and wanted by the recipients[6].

 

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory of Motivation[7]

Herzberg (1965) theorized that satisfaction and dissatisfaction were affected by different factors and thus could not be measured on the same scale. This theory is known as the two-factor theory; Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory; and/or the dual-factor theory.

  • Hygiene factors are those that pertained to the job and were comprised of supervision, interpersonal relationships, work conditions, salary, and company policy. Hygiene factors cannot produce motivation only satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
  • The motivational factors are such items as recognition, a sense of achievement, growth or promotion opportunities, responsibility, and meaningfulness of the work itself.

Herzberg

Hygiene factors need to be removed (cleaned up) before motivation factors can take effect. This theory was developed in the same timeframe as McGregor’s ‘Theory X – Theory Y’.

 

McClelland’s Theory of Needs[8]

McClelland’s theory of needs (1995) is a motivational model that attempts to explain how the needs for achievement, power, and affiliation affect the actions of people from a managerial context:

  • Achievement discusses how people with different levels of achievement needs seek tasks with a corresponding level of risk. The higher the achievement need the higher the risk.
  • Affiliation need is similar to achievement and differs only in the fact it is the need to be associated with or accepted by a specific group.
  • The power portion of the needs theory actually has two sub-sets, personal power and institutional power. Personal power describes the individual who wants to direct others and institutional power describes the individual who wants to organize the efforts of others for the betterment of the institution.

McClelland

 

Aldefer’s Existence, Relatedness, and Growth (ERG) Needs Theory of Motivation[9]

Clayton Aldefer developed his ERG theory as Existence, Relatedness, and Growth (2011) to bring Maslow’s needs hierarchy into alignment with empirical research. He re-categorised Maslow’s hierarchy of needs into three simpler and broader classes of needs:

  • Existence needs- These include need for basic material necessities. In short, it includes an individual’s physiological and physical safety needs.
  • Relatedness needs- These include the aspiration individual’s have for maintaining significant interpersonal relationships (be it with family, peers or superiors), getting public fame and recognition. Maslow’s social needs and external component of esteem needs fall under this class of need.
  • Growth needs- These include need for self-development and personal growth and advancement. Maslow’s self-actualization needs and intrinsic component of esteem needs fall under this category of need.

ERG

ERG Theory states that at a given point of time, more than one need may be operational and recognises the option for both advancement and frustration/regression.

 

Additional Theories:

This post only looks at a few of the theories of motivation some of the others include:

  • Theory Z (Ouchi): High levels of trust, confidence and commitment towards the workers on the part of management lead to high levels of motivation and productivity on the part of workers (based on observation of Japanese businesses in the mid 1970s – Ouchi suggests that when selecting a person for promotion to a different role [eg, a manual worker to foreman] it is better to select a person with a demonstrated commitment to the objectives of the organisation in preference to the most effective manual worker, the current demonstrated capabilities are not relevant and commitment overcomes obstacles).
  • Contingency theory (Morse & Lorsch): People need to develop a sense of competence and this need continues to motivate people after competence is achieved. A good fit between the organisation’s structure and the task leads to competence, creating motivation.
  • Goal-setting theory (Latham & Locke): Having clear, specific and challenging goals motivate people.
  • Reinforcement theory (Skinner): Human behaviour is shaped by the previous positive or negative outcomes experienced by a person as a consequence of an action. Only positive reinforcement (rewards) should be used to encourage desired behaviours.
  • Equity theory (Adams): People are motivated by their desire to be treated equitably. Perceptions of unfair allocation of rewards can lead to conflict.
  • Achievement motivation theory (McClelland) describes three relevant needs in work situations:
    • The need for achievement – the drive to succeed and achieve performance standards;
    • The need for power – the need for influence over others;
    • The need for affiliation or association – the desire for close, friendly relationships at work
  • Bureaucratic Vs humanistic value systems (Chris Argyris). Bureaucratic / pyramidal organisational values dominate most organisations (the equivalent to McGregor’s Theory X); relationships in this environment result in decreased interpersonal competence, fostering mistrust; intergroup conflict and leading to a decrease in success in problem solving; Humanistic values lead to trusting authentic relationships and improve interpersonal and intergroup cooperation.

 

Conclusion

You can judge for the number of theories outlined in this paper motivating people is a complex issue. Our White Papers on motivation and leadership try to bring these theories into a practical perspective (see WP1048 Motivation and WP1014 Leadership).

This post also supports two of the key themes in my latest book, Making Projects Work are leadership and motivating your stakeholders to help you help them by delivering a successful project. The book is based on the premise that effective motivation requires focused communication within a robust relationship.

________________________

[1] For more on the development of management theories see:
http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PDF_Papers/P050_Origins_of_Modern_PM.pdf (page 8 to 14)

[2] For more on McGregor’s ‘Theory X – Y’ see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_X_and_Theory_Y

[3] For more on the work of Henry Gantt and access to his books, see: Henry L. Gantt –
A Retrospective view of his work
http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Resources_Papers_158.html

[4] For more on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs

[5] For more on expectancy theory see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expectancy_theory

[6] The problem of inadvertently rewarding undesirable behaviour is discussed in:
http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Mag_Articles/SA1018_What_you_measure_is_what_you_get.pdf

[7] For more on Herzberg see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-factor_theory

[8] For more on the theory of needs see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Need_theory

[9] For more on ERG needs see: http://www.managementstudyguide.com/erg-theory-motivation.htm


Happiness = Fun

June 30, 2014

PM-SmiledA couple of weeks ago I uploaded an article on The power of Happiness and how a change in attitude lifted the performance of the Australian cricked team. Now the well known ‘Lazy Project Manager’, Peter Taylor has taken this idea one step further.

Building on from the ideas of Richard Branson, of the Virgin Group, who said ‘Have fun, success will follow. If you aren’t having fun, you are doing it wrong. If you feel like getting up in the morning to work on your business is a chore, then it’s time to try something else. If you are having a good time, there is a far greater chance a positive, innovative atmosphere will be nurtured… A smile and a joke can go a long way, so be quick to see the lighter side of life’. Peter has just published a new book dedicated to project management fun (jokes, stories and case studies) called ‘The Project Manager Who Smiled’ and for 5 days from 30th June you can get it free in eBook form from Amazon!

Being in a good mood (ie, happy) doesn’t just feel good, it stimulates your efficiency at work; ‘being responsible’ ranked first, ‘happiness’ second in a survey of 2000 project people asked to vote on what encourages efficiency.  To read more of Peter’s thoughts on this subject see his latest post: Project Management Fun.

Then to download his free e-Book visit Amazon.com before the 5th July and grab your copy of The Project Manager Who Smiled (The Lazy Project Manager). It may take your Productive Laziness to a whole new level.


Culture eats strategy for breakfast 2!

November 17, 2011

In my first post on this topic I suggested that:

  • Even where a smart business has aligned the project with a sensible/necessary strategic intent, and then properly leads and resources the effort, failure is still likely if the power of culture is ignored.
  • And culture can be loosely defined as ‘the way we do business here’ and incorporates attitudes, expectations and the way both internal and external relationships work. The people in the organisation are there because they can operate in the culture as it currently is and embody the culture; they are predisposed to resist change.

This post looks at the entrenched nature of culture and its affect on change.

Surveys by the Australian Institute of Management and others consistently show that around 30% of people in an organisation are looking to leave; which means 70% are content. This majority are comfortable within the current status quo and know how to ‘work the system’ to their advantage. The 30% who aren’t happy may be open to change but are also already disaffected and therefore probably disinterested.

Introducing a new ‘best practice’ will inevitably change the status quo and change the relative power balances within the organisation. A couple of examples:

  • The organisation decides to introduce an effective scheduling system (possibly supported through a PMO). The people involved in doing the schedule gain ‘power’ they develop the schedule and report progress against the plan. The project teams lose power, they need to conform to the plan (losing the flexibility to do what they feel like on a day-to-day basis) and failures to achieve the schedule are highlighted to management much sooner than if the schedule was not being used. We can prove having an effective schedule improves the probability of project success (see: Proof of the blindingly obvious), but what’s good for the organisation as a whole is not necessarily going to be seen as good by the individuals affected by the ‘improvement’.
     
  • The organisation decides to introduce a Portfolio Management process to select the best projects to undertake to achieve its strategy, within its capacity to properly support the work. This is a great strategic initiative that maximises the value to the organisation but will mean rejecting more the 60% of the potential projects it could do if it had unlimited resources. This means 60% of the pet projects supported by various members of the executive will be canned! Which means these people will lose power and status firstly to the team making the portfolio decisions and secondly to the executives whose projects were selected. Another group disadvantaged by the selection process (or more accurately the rejections) are the teams who develop the idea and build the business case for the non-selected projects.

In both cases what’s good for the organisation is potentially bad for a large group of individuals who are currently happy and effective working within the current culture and structures of the business – if they weren’t happy they would not be there!

In Culture eats strategy for breakfast! #1, I raised the concept of creating ‘space’ in the existing culture for the change initiative to move into and fill. This ‘space’ is created by crafting a general acceptance within the culture that the current status quo is not working well for the majority and some sacrifice of existing power and ‘comfort’ is generally warranted for the good of each individual as well as the organisation. This objective can be achieved in a number of ways:

  • by identifying a ‘clear and present danger’ that is threatening the group and the organisation as a whole – the need to change to survive;
  • alternatively a competitive challenge to beat an opposing organisation may work or;
  • best but most difficult to achieve a engendering general striving for excellence simply to be part of something great.

Engendering the move towards accepting or desiring the change requires powerful leadership embodying credibility and a clear message that identifies the reason for the change and generates buy-in to the concept of changing and improving before the specifics are even discussed. This leadership has to come from the top! (see more on leadership)

The more established the ‘culture’ is the harder creating the desire for change becomes. Small and medium sized businesses can link the well being of the business to the benefits of the individuals far easier than large businesses. Commercial organisations can link their success to the well being of individuals far easier than stable government organisations with permanent employment as part of the public servant’s culture. The more resistant the culture, the more important effective leadership linked to powerful communication becomes in creating the space for change.

Once the ‘space’ has been created and the desire to improve is generally present, a careful two-way dialogue is needed to define the best options for change and build engagement, to recognise those who will inevitably lose power or be inconvenienced by the change and to help these ‘losers’ re-gain their losses (or perceive a better future despite the losses). Altruism is wonderful but it is unwise to rely on it as the primary mechanism for change.

There will always be resisters to change, the challenge is to shift the majority to a point where they want the improvements (or at least recognise the changes are essential). In addition to leadership, this also requires effective stakeholder management (see more on stakeholder management  ). Once this shift is achieved, traditional change management processes cut in to deal with the implementation of the change, supported by project management processes to create the necessary deliverables to implement the change.

However, if the organisation fails to create the ‘space’ in its existing culture for the new processes to work within, the existing culture will definitely eat the intended strategy for breakfast!


Culture eats strategy for breakfast!

November 15, 2011

Most business changes involve a strategic intent, implemented by a project or program that defines the new processes and procedures needed to achieve the change and then develops and implements the processes.

Smart organisations realise this is not enough and include training to make the organisations staff familiar with the new processes and the really smart organisations link achieving the intended benefits to a key executives KPIs. And the changes still fail!

Two areas of notable failure are IT projects where the focus is on the technology rather than the business and PMO start-ups where the focus in on processes and reporting rather than improved project outcomes.

However, even where a smart business has aligned the project with a sensible/necessary strategic intent, and then properly leads and resources the effort, failure is still likely if the power of culture is ignored. Culture can be loosely defined as ‘the way we do business here’ and incorporates attitudes, expectations and the way both internal and external relationships work. The people in the organisation are there because they can operate in the culture as it currently is and embody the culture; they are predisposed to resist change.

There is an old joke that asks ‘how many consultants do you need to change a light bulb?’ The answer is ‘one, provided the light bulb wants to change!’  This adage applies to changing culture in any organisation – it wont change unless the people in the organisation want it to change, and overall most people in the organisation are quite happy with the culture as it exists (if they were not, they would move on to another job).

The challenge with implementing changes falls into two areas:

  • The first is doing the ‘right project right’ by implementing effective Portfolio, Program and Project management. Whilst it is true that $billions of projects fail due to poor management practices, these failures are a deliberate choice of executive management. We know how to do projects, programs and portfolio management properly, not implementing effective systems is a cultural decision that prefers the status quo and failure over change.
  • The second challenge is cultural; the need to move the organisations culture to allow the change to be implemented effectively. This is a much more difficult process that needs leadership and drive. You need to create the willingness to allow the change to happen, before the change can be implemented effectively, before the benefits of the change can be realised. This requires the people in the organisation to buy into the concept of the proposed change long before the benefits can be tangibly appreciated.

Meeting the challenge of ‘culture’ requires effective leadership; the people in the organisation need to be prepared to follow their leader into the new, unproven future. These traditional aspects of leadership are outlined in our White Paper: Leadership.

Another important facet of leadership is ‘Tribal Leadership’, everyone belongs to one or more tribes of associates (defined as people they know well enough to greet socially) and effective leadership at this social group level can also be a powerful influence for change, firstly to build engagement within the group (see diagram below), then to generate support to allow the change to happen.

Whilst project managers can only ever have a small role to pay in the overall leadership of the organisation (this is the province of CEOs and executive managers), they can be effective tribal leaders.

Most tribes are quite small, less then 120 people. In their book, Tribal Leadership, Logan, King and Fischer-Wright describe an organisation as a tribe of tribes and if the project manager’s tribe expands to include key members of the wider organisational community affected by the planned change, their influence can be significant.

Creating the ‘space’ within a culture to allow change, both from the executive leadership perspective and tribal leadership perspective are elements of effective stakeholder management. What most organisations forget is this part of the change effort has to precede the role out of the new processes and procedures.

Creating the space to allow for the possibility of success is not the end of the change effort. For the change to be fully successful you still need to role out strategically effective processes and procedures, provide effective training and transition support, and then maintain visible support for the change over an extended period until the ‘new’ processes and procedures are fully absorbed in to the culture of the organisation and simply become part of the way the organisation does business.

Unfortunately very few organisations start soon enough or continue long enough with the overall change effort to be successful. But without this sustained effort, culture eats strategy for breakfast.

See also: Culture eats strategy for breakfast 2!


Rewards to Motivate Performance

March 11, 2011

When you do a good job, you like to feel appreciated and as a leader, rewarding good performance is one of the key ways to keep your team motivated. However, there is a significant difference in the way many businesses try to use rewards to motivate people and what scientific studies suggest are effective motivators.

The ‘carrot and stick’ approach has been shown to be largely ineffective. This is hardly new; Henry Gantt was advocating rewards over punishment as the most effective motivator as early as 1912. What is interesting though, is that providing transactional bonuses as the reward has also been shown to be largely ineffective. Simply providing a reward of ‘1’ if a person achieved 1X, and ‘2’ if they achieve 2X has little effect on motivation, particularly if the reward is money. If you don’t believe this watch Dan Pink’s TED presentation on the surprising science of motivation http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/dan_pink_on_motivation.html or look up Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory, wages are a hygiene factor, not a motivator.

What modern research has shown is the type of rewards that are effective. We all have a deep need for autonomy, the desire to direct our own lives, mastery, the urge to get better at doing our work and to feel successful, and purpose, the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

If your leadership provides your team with these elements, you are likely to have satisfied and motivated people working together. Some of the key elements to integrate into your leadership include allowing team members the freedom to define their work within appropriate boundaries*, providing opportunities to develop new skills and linking their work to the objectives of the organisation and where possible benefits to society at large. Your job is to ‘join the dots’ and make the linkages: If we create a more efficient process, consumption will be reduced and there will be a benefit in the reduction of our organisation’s carbon footprint.

Rewards do not need to be large, but it helps if you can create a series of short, medium and long term aims to allow successes to be recognized regularly. Then provide rapid, frequent and clear feedback linked to graduated and scaled rewards for appropriate effort. The rewards themselves should reinforce the three elements above. Rewards that offer more autonomy or more control over a person’s work, or the opportunity to learn something new or polish an existing skill are far more likely to be effective than a transactional payment such as time off work. This is particularly true if the group as a whole can join in to celebrate the success.

So where can you start? One simple thing to try is the next time you need to direct a person to do a job, rather then telling them what to do and when it has to be finished, ask them how they can best achieve the objective of the task and how quickly do they think they can accomplish it. You may be surprised at the positive reaction.

* for more on bounded initiative see: http://mosaicprojects.wordpress.com/2010/07/30/command-or-control


Motivation

December 9, 2010

Leaders motivate their teams and the surrounding stakeholder community to actively work to support the leader’s objectives. Motivation does not happen by chance, there are many traits the leader can display that assist in creating a motivated team. Some of the key traits are:

Communicate effectively. Communicate with transparency, authenticity and clarity and make it a priority to make time to talk to each and every member of your team on a regular basis. You may be busy, but you really can’t afford to allow communication black holes to develop.

Uncertainty creates a void. Unless you, the project manager, fill that void with clear and positive communication, people will assume the worst and act accordingly. Fear and negativity will creep in and dominate their thoughts, behaviours, and actions.

Build trust and empathy. Travelling to meet with team members in person is an investment in building trust as is asking questions. When you show an interest people’s culture, families and personal lives, often they will open up and by expressing interest, you can establish a much deeper connection that leads to a much deeper level of trust

Build relationships. Relationships are the foundation upon which winning teams and organisations are built. It’s much easier to motivate someone if you know them and they know and trust you.

Create a shared vision. Create a vision statement that inspires and rallies your team and organization; a short, simple, rallying cry that means something to the each person on the team. This vision statement must come to life in the hearts and minds of team members. Share it, reinforce it, and inspire your people to live and breathe it every day. A positive vision for the future leads to powerful actions today.

Lead with optimism. Transfer your optimism and vision to others. This inspires others to think and act in ways that drive results. Great leaders inspire their teams to believe they can succeed. As a leader and manager, you are not just leading and managing people, but you are also leading and managing their beliefs and you must utilise every opportunity to transfer your optimism to the team. Both optimism and pessimism are contagious, make sure everyone catches the optimistic bug.

Create purpose-driven goals. Break the vision down into practical, purpose-driven goals. Real motivation is driven by a desire to make a difference; people are most energized when they are using their strengths for a purpose beyond themselves. When team members feel as though the work they do is playing an integral role in the overall success of the company, they are motivated to work harder.

When they feel as though they are working for something more than just the bottom line, and the overall purpose of the project is aligned their personal goals with they feel good about the work they are doing.

Staff the team thoughtfully and nourish your team. Belief plus action equals results. If you don’t believe that something can happen, then you won’t take the actions necessary to create it. If you believe that your team can do big things, they will believe it, too. And that belief will fuel the fires of action and provide you with the results you’re looking for. Surveys consistently demonstrate that employees who think their managers care about them are more loyal and productive than those who do not. If you nourish your team and take the time to invest in them, they will pay you back in productivity, creativity and loyalty. If your team members know that you care about them, they will want to do good work for you. It’s the greatest motivator of all.

Motivating a team is hard work but any of the alternatives are much harder. For more on motivation see WP1048 at http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/WhitePapers/WP1048_Motivation.pdf