Posts Tagged ‘motivation’

Your values and how they impact on your work

August 21, 2013

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When was the last time you considered what’s important to you / what you value?

Values are what drive your decisions and your behaviour.

Values affect how you choose your friends, what hobbies/interests you pursue, and may also affect which jobs/car you go for.

Values are important because you use them to evaluate yourself and others.

For example, if one of your values is honesty, you are more likely to hand in a wallet you find in the street to a local police station. You are also going to get a sense of satisfaction from doing so, which makes you feel good. Hence, you evaluate this action positively. On the other hand, if you see someone taking something that isn’t theirs, you will feel a sense of discomfort and evaluate their actions negatively.

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Choosing activities that align with our values results in us feeling happier, more fulfilled and more comfortable in our own skin. If the activities we engage in don’t support our values, then we find ourselves in conflict. Many work-place relationship issues can be put down to conflicting values.

Organisations often promote their own values, although these aren’t always written down! An example here could be a workplace putting a value on people who work longer hours. This can promote inner conflict if you value a good work-life balance. Nothing’s necessarily written down, but people’s behaviour suggests it!

Within organisations, leaders will often lead their teams according to their own value systems. So if they are internally motivated and don’t require regular feedback on how well they are doing, their default position may be – they don’t see the value in providing feedback to their team members. For a team member who values, and is motivated by, regular feedback – he/she is likely to become unhappy, demotivated and perhaps disillusioned.

  • How aware of our values are we?
  • Do you know what your values are? … These can be different for different areas of your life, and there can be common ones too.

Working out your values

1. Divide your life up into areas. For example:

  • work
  • family
  • friends
  • hobbies/interests, etc.

2. For each area, list what is important to you. For example:

  • companionship
  • security
  • honesty
  • wealth
  • trust

3. Examine the list(s) closely and ask yourself if there’s anything missing. Do you need to add something? For example:

  • adventure
  • success
  • freedom
  • fairness

4. Arrange your list in order of importance. Ask yourself, “Is ‘A’ more important than ‘B’?” Or “If I had to choose ‘B’ or ‘C’, which would be most important?”

Follow-up …

Score each item on the list as a percentage in terms of how well that value is being met. For example, if success is important to you in the workplace, how successful do you feel you are currently with your role/tasks? 100%? … 50%? … 75%?

Any area with a low score is worthy of the question: 

“What needs to change to ensure this value is met?”

What creates better performance at work?

October 22, 2012

In previous blogs I’ve shared my thoughts on some of the different styles of motivation, and how you can use this knowledge to motivate yourself and your team/colleagues.

I like the idea that motivation isn’t just about the traditional ‘carrot and stick’ approach, but can also be about providing opportunities for self-directed   motivation. The latter is the best type – I believe – for greater, longer-lasting outcomes.

I came across this video from RSA recently (love this series – entertaining as well as informative!) and thought it gave a great example of how a company motivated its workforce once a quarter (about 6 mins in).

In brief, a company offered its employees the opportunity to work on whatever (and with whomever) they wanted for a day, as long as they reported back what they’d achieved at the end of the 24 hour period. To make this easier – they also made the feedback session an informal meeting. This led to ideas for new products and lots of problems being resolved, that they believe wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

Now this example is from a software company, but it got me thinking…

What motivates teachers to do their best work?

  • Are you more motivated by being given a pay rise?
  • Does a leadership role motivate you more?
  • Or would you be more motivated if you were given more autonomy?

The research referenced in the video suggests that once the tasks get above a basic cognitive skill level, greater monetary reward for better productivity doesn’t work … in fact for the bigger monetary rewards – it’s actually less of a motivating factor!

Would you agree with this research evidence?

Is more money a greater motivator than more autonomy for you?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Motivate me! (Part 2)

February 3, 2012

So … how do you know that you’ve done a good job? In Part 1 I posed this question and encouraged you to answer it as fully as possible, and in relation to a particular work-based target. If you’ve not read Part 1, or answered the question yet, I suggest you take a moment to do so now – before you read on!

So how did you answer it? Were your answers along the lines of ‘Style A’ …

  • I just know!
  • I feel it
  • I achieve my targets
  • I achieve what I set out to do
  • I measure my progress against my success criteria

Or were they more like ‘Style B’ …

  • People tell me
  • I get great results / earn more money
  • I get good feedback from colleagues / clients
  • I find out during my performance management / appraisal meetings
  • I can see my team members are happy / succeeding / achieving great results

Or perhaps your answers were a bit of both!

There is no right or wrong here. Your preferred motivation style just is what it is. Take a look at the language you used to answer the question. Did you use more ‘I’ or ‘me’ language, or did you refer to others / external sources of feedback?

Results! ….

Style A = Internal motivation

If you’re internally motivated – you don’t need external praise and will tend to make your own decisions about the quality of your work, rather than asking other people what they think.

Your motivation is self-generated, and you rely on your own judgment when deciding what to do.

You also have a tendency to resist others telling you what to do. As you don’t generally need praise from others – you tend not to give feedback, which can be difficult if you’re a team leader or manager, and your team are more externally motivated (see below).

Style B = External motivation

You rely on recognition / feedback from others and rewards.

You’re more motivated when someone else makes the decision (e.g. on how to move forward with a team project).

You generally make reference to external sources (other people / information from elsewhere) to make the judgment on how well you’re doing.

If you don’t get sufficient feedback you won’t know how well you’re doing, and this will have a negative impact on your motivation levels. Feedback from others can also come from non-verbal / body language sources.

Using these results to motivate your team

These results will help you to identify your own preferred style (for internal/external). The next step is to use the information from both of these posts to identify your team members’ styles.

1. Pay attention to how they respond to feedback and / or how often they come to you / others seeking approval for their actions.

2. If unsure, or you can’t find sufficient evidence, ask them the question I posed in Part 1, or ask who they involve when making a decision. If they mainly refer to others, they will be more externally motivated. If they mainly talk about being able to make the decision on their own, they are more likely to be internally motivated.

3. Motivate ‘internal’ staff with phrases such as:

– “This is the target we’re aiming for. I could make some suggestions to achieve it, but at the end of the day, only you can decide the best way forward.”

– “What do you think are the steps we could take to achieve _______?”

4. Motivate ‘external’ staff with phrases such as:

– “When you complete this project on time, others will notice / you’ll get good feedback.”

– “I would strongly recommend that you (make the changes we discussed at the last staff meeting, by Friday … etc.)”

– “Think of the results you’ll get if you do ______ !”

About 40% of people are largely internally or externally motivated; and 20% are equally both. However, in a particular job sector, you may get a higher percentage of one type, due to the nature of the job.

So how did you fair … and what steps are you going to take regarding motivating your team? In my experience, leaders tend to be more internally motivated. They need to have that internal driver and a strong sense of knowing what they want and how to get there.

Would love to hear your comments on this!

(Picture credit: David Castillo Dominici)

Motivate me! (Part 1)

January 28, 2012

Leaders beware … your staff may appear enthusiastic, driven and motivated, but is it just for show? Do your staff say what they think you want to hear, or are their responses an honest reflection of how motivated they are?

As a leader or manager it’s important to know how to motivate your team. A mistake some leaders can make is to assume, often subconsciously, that their staff will be motivated in the same way they are. After all, they all work for the same organisation and have a common goal, right? … Wrong. Having a common goal doesn’t mean each person’s motivation style will be the same.

In Staying Motivated I briefly introduced some of the different motivational styles, and discussed the towards and away from characteristics in some detail. For this blog (and Part 2) I’ll introduce a different style. But first ….. a question:

How do you know that you’ve done a good job?

It’s best to answer this question when thinking about a specific target you’ve set yourself at work, and how you’ve faired so far in your achievement of it.

Write down all your thoughts when considering your answer. Give as full and detailed an answer as you can.

In Part 2, I’ll discuss the outcomes of this little task, and the style of motivation it corresponds to.

In the meantime, feel free to share your responses to the question, in the comments section below!

(Photo: jscreationzs)

Staying motivated!

February 3, 2011

Day 3 of my 28 Day Blog Challenge

Yesterday I shared with you some of my thoughts around the planning of my 28 day blog challenge. Today I’m focusing on the potentially tricky area of staying motivated.

Sustaining motivation was one of the top areas (from my recent goal setting research) identified as a potential obstacle for attaining goals. So I thought I’d address this, in part, sooner rather than later, in case anyone has started hitting that ‘wall’ yet with their goals!

Before I explore styles of motivation, it’s important to say that I wanted to ensure that I was interested in my goal in the first place. So my blogging topics had to be things I was interested in writing about and, hopefully, readers would find interesting to read! So make sure your goal interests/inspires/excites you, otherwise you could be in trouble.

So how are you motivated? I think it’s a hard question to answer in isolation, and needs to be asked in a context, i.e. the particular goal/target you’re working towards.

One of the first things I do when coaching clients towards their goals is explore their motivational traits for that goal. There are a range: internal/external, proactive/reactive, options/procedures, but for this blog I’m going to look at the Towards / Away from trait. I know from past experience that I am generally motivated “towards” my goals, rather than “away from” staying the same (where no change would happen). There is no right or wrong here, and both are about forward motion. You’re likely to be one style or the other, but about 20% of the population are a bit of both.

Knowing my motivational preference for my goal helps me plan to avoid the tough times. So, here are some pointers for each style:

If you’re motivated towards your goal you’ll benefit from:

  • identifying your rewards at the outset for achievement of your goal;
  • reminding yourself what your goal is and why you want it;
  • breaking your goal into manageable chunks; and
  • recognizing the progress you are making / you’ve made

If you’re motivated away from your current situation you’ll be motivated by:

  • giving yourself deadlines;
  • seeing tasks as challenges;
  • putting yourself under some pressure (but don’t get stressed out!); and
  • reminding yourself of what will happen if you don’t complete your tasks / achieve your goal

Remember, these are just some of the traits/styles of motivation. Look out for future blogs on the other styles, and let me know if this is an area you’d like to hear more about. If you’re interested in this topic, I recommend Words that change minds by Shelle Rose Charvet, which I’ve found very useful for my coaching and training.

(Photo courtesy of Renjith Krishnan)

Feeling the urge to ‘Spring Clean’ this month?

September 5, 2010

Photo: Suat Eman

Not quite the right time of year – I hear you say?

Nevertheless, September is one of the 4 main times over a year where we have urges to make a fresh start, de-clutter, spring clean, etc. The others are:

  • New Year
  • April
  • Our birthday

Some believe this is perhaps to do with seasonal changes or conditioning as children around birthdays / school holidays. If, like me, your birthday also falls at one of the other times, you may feel an even bigger pull towards making a new start at that time of year.

Linked to ‘clearing out’ is the need to free up time / space, or replace the old with the new. This can be new systems, not just new possessions. While we’re feeling like a change, this is a good time to set new goals or targets for ourselves.

So what goals are you setting yourself right now?

  • How are you de-cluttering? What criteria are you using?
  • What changes are you making? What impact will they have on others around you?

If you’re setting goals, to help you on your way, here are my 5 top tips to ensure a positive start.

1. Make sure your goal is about what you want, rather than what you don’t want.

For example: I want a clutter-free desk / office (rather than ‘I don’t want to work in this tip!’) You get what you focus on, so focus on something positive!

2. Make sure you understand exactly what your goal means to you.

What will ‘clutter-free’ look and feel like? What will be classed as clutter? What essentials do you still need?

3. What’s your time scale?

Rather than leave it open-ended, which – let’s face it – can result in the “I’ll do it tomorrow” state of mind ….. give yourself a deadline.

E.g. I’ll be working from a clutter-free desk in 4 weeks’ time.

Then break this down into smaller chunks….. What needs to be achieved in 2 weeks, to be on target? What do you need to do in 1 week? etc. What are you going to do to ensure the changes are consistent?

4. List the benefits

To take my example further, what will having a clutter-free desk give you? More space to work? A clearer head to think? More focus and direction? I’ll be able to find things more easily. I’ll be less annoying to be around! …..

5. Staying motivated

You may be motivated by the goal itself (a tidier desk), or by moving away from your current situation (a cluttered desk), or even a bit of both.

If the goal excites you – keep reminding yourself of the benefits of what you’re aiming for, and visualize the end result.

If your motivated more by getting rid of the mess, in this example, think about the consequences of doing nothing. What will it be like in 2 weeks if you’ve not changed anything?

If you’re motivated in both ways, you’ll probably need to use both of the above strategies.

Enjoy your “spring cleaning”, and feel free to share your goals / successes (photos also useful of before and after, if relevant!!)

Ever tried blog-ironing?

May 1, 2010

So what is “Blog-ironing”? Well for me it’s the same as blog-hoovering, blog-dusting/cleaning, blog-gardening …. in fact blog-anything that doesn’t involve much thought, and where you have the time and mental space to think of things other than what you’re doing.

I’ve sat down many times at my computer with the intention of thinking of content for my first (and subsequent) blogs only to find I go blank. Yet when I engage in something like ironing, I find my mind wandering off and being creative.

So now when I set up the ironing board, get out the hoover, or gardening gloves, I also make sure I have a pen and notebook to hand, so I can capture anything creative or thoughtful ideas before they disappear. Not all of them will end up as a blog, I’m sure.

Perhaps it’s also something to do with being quite kinaesthetic. I learn better when I am doing things.

To anyone reading this who “blogs”, I am interested to hear how you get yourself into a blogging-mindset. Where does your inspiration and/or motivation come from? Do you open up a bottle, ensure an inspiring view, put on your favourite music, wait for events to come along to write about, or create them? Perhaps it’s a combination of the above, or something else.