Posts Tagged ‘motivation’

Can you be too strong? The answer is, “yes.” Maybe a better way to say that is, “A strength can be taken too far, to the point where it becomes a weakness.” There is a very good psychological test based on this called The Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI). The SDI addresses motivation and is based on Relationship Awareness Theory, which has as one of its four premises

Strengths, when overdone or misapplied, can appear as weaknesses.

 This is something I see in my teaching and consulting practice routinely. This may sound a bit odd, but trust me, it isn’t. So what is this all about?

Remember the Peter Principle series from a few blogs back? You might recall the Peter Principle states:

People are promoted to their level of incompetency.

With those previous blogs the focus was on temperament as viewed by Jung and Myers and Briggs. Temperament reflects how our brain is wired.

With the SDI Dr. Elias Porter, PhD, takes a different approach looking at motivation and whether or not a person is driven by a sense of altruism, assertiveness, analysis, or flexible (a combination of the three). From their names you can guess what approach a person would take if it is their dominant or native trait.

So how can a strength be taken too far? Good question. Imagine I score “flexible” on the SDI. If the heat is on and a decision is needed I might look too wishy-washy for you as the pressure builds. In fact, that will be the truth if I am spending all my time looking for the “sweet spot” of the decision and am ignoring the fact time or money is running out.

This reasoning carries forward to the other motivational types as well:

  • The altruistic person gets so worried about how everyone will feel they become indecisive;
  • The assertive person runs head-long into a decision unaware of the risks involved;
  • The analytical person just never has enough information to make a decision.

To make matters more challenging, when under pressure a person can “move” and shift to another SDI position. For example, the altruistic person may move to the more assertive position and become dictatorial – all in the name of helping everyone. You can have some fun thinking about how some of the other shifts play out and people you know who act that way.

There are several takeaways from this:

  • Try and walk a mile in the other person’s shoes. See if you can see things through their eyes.
  • Remember that people can shift their attitude, opinion, and approach to a situation when under pressure. They aren’t necessarily being two-faced, they may just be responding to the pressure and trying to do what they think is best.
  • Watch your own behavior. It is easy to feel justified with one’s approach and lack awareness that we are changing our attitude and how we deal with others without having any conscious awareness of it. It can all be done blindly in the belief of what is “best.”
  • Finally, too much of one thing can create difficulties. Try and take it easy and leave space for others.

This was a short run-through of only one aspect of the SDI. I strongly encourage you to explore the SDI. It is a simple, practical profiling test that yields good information.

Time for a Change #23: Getting Your Team into Flow

by William Reed on August 16, 2012

Individual and Team Flow

No one truly works alone. We all depend on other people to earn and provide a livelihood. But the quality of our work experience, the quantity of our productive output, and the sustainability of our engagement all depend on the degree to which we are able to maintain individual and team flow over time.

Individual flow is often described as an experience of relaxed concentration, the enjoyment of high performance, challenge, and mastery. Athletes call it being in the zone, musicians in the groove, business people call it full engagement.

Alas it is easy to be pulled out of individual flow by a mismatch of talent and task, leading to boredom or anxiety; and by a mismatch of team energy, whereby other people pull you out of flow. You are in flow if you have a real reason to go to work. You have a passion for what you do. You would do it anyway, and not just because you are getting paid. Considering how much time and life energy we spend on work and careers, finding your flow is urgent and important business.

To gain deeper insights into your individual and team flow take the Talent Dynamics Profile Test online and get immediate results in the form of a profile graph and detailed report. Visiting the website will also help you learn more about the 8 Talent Dynamics Profiles shown in the illustration, and how this approach is used in business.

Team members also depend on one another to get into and keep working in flow. This requires an appreciation of differences in styles and strengths, and the ability to communicate and collaborate with people who share your workspace. This cannot easily be achieved with just a pleasant smile and a cooperative attitude. Once you understand the profiles, strengths and weaknesses, and flow requirements of each individual in your team, it is easy to understand who and what is missing in your composite profile. This will also help define your identity and style as a team, as well as help you determine and attract the outer edge supporters and providers who can help balance and fortify your team.

A high performance team is a priceless asset. Think of what happens to a band when a key member leaves, or how highly interdependent are the members of a sports team. The team’s performance is highly dependent on the team and team members remaining in flow.

Shared Mission and Motivation

Sun Tzu’s classic strategy on winning without fighting applies equally well to what happens inside the team, as it does to the opposition. To be successful it is critical that the team have a shared mission, which is more than a mission statement. What holds it together is an emotional commitment, the genuine feeling that we are in this together.

Working together should be a pleasure, your team an extended family. The team that plays together stays together. Having fun at work makes it easier and more natural to socialize with your team outside of work, within the bounds of friendship, and not as a forced obligation. All for one and one for all is not a bad thing to aspire to if it is felt from the inside.

Shared motivation is the other half of the coin that keeps the team together. Motivation depends on a good match of talent and task, role and responsibility. Players in position, passing the ball to the right person at the right time, and celebrating your success. Talent Dynamics gives you a framework for determining both roles and strategy.

Life/Work Balance

One challenge of full engagement in your work is that it can absorb time, money, and resources that might otherwise be devoted to health, financial planning, family and friends, study, personal development, leisure, or even volunteer activities. Almost by default your work will occupy the lion’s share of your time. Hopefully it will also make the other areas of your life better, but the balance is likely to be asymmetrical.

Management guru Peter Drucker found that people who were only successful in business were often quite unsuccessful and unhappy in other areas of their life. Revisit Drucker’s thinking on this through a book by Bruce Rosenstein, who interviewed Drucker at the end of his life, which I reviewed in a separate article, Living in More than One World.

Value and Leverage

Looking at the Talent Dynamics square in the illustration, you can see it as composed of a vertical Value axis, and a horizontal Leverage axis. To a business, Value represents the things that its customers are willing to pay for, its products and services. Leverage represents the way in which value is made known and available, through its people and systems.

The questions to ask on the vertical axis are what is it worth and when? DYNAMO energy in the green triangle is where you find innovation and ideas in the form of products; whereas TEMPO energy in the yellow triangle is where you find timing and sensory experience in the form of services.

The questions to ask on the horizontal axis are who will deliver it and how? BLAZE energy in the red triangle is where you find people who can make the company’s value known and available; whereas  STEEL energy in the grey triangle is where you find the systems and distribution mechanisms which make the company’s products and services readily available.

Making Magic

The Great Multiplication is where you multiply Value X Leverage, which results in sales and profits for the company, as well as increased value delivered to the customers. Companies which do this well over time are able to grow and continue to deliver additional value to customers at higher levels. started out as an online bookstore, but now sells all kinds of products in many consumer categories. It also offers customers a chance to resell used books, and even has a credit card service. They deliver more things, faster and more cheaply, so they continue to grow. But behind the scenes, this is all made possible because many of the individuals and teams working at are themselves in flow. Companies which drive sales and performance by forcing their people out of flow are not able to sustain growth.

Who are gonna call to make magic? Call EMC Quest and we can show you how to make the most of your energy, mind, and creativity when it is time for a change in your business.

For a summary of this article and reminders of next steps to take, download a PDF file COLLABORATION MANDALA.

Time For a Change #2: Lighting Your Fire

by William Reed on February 17, 2012

Make no mistake about it. Goals start and end with Passion, the essential ingredient in motivation. Passion is the energy that feeds the flame, without which your project is doomed to falter.

The quintessential question is how can you light this fire in yourself brightly enough to inspire others to help you achieve your goals? You cannot do it alone, and people need more than just a reason to help you, they need to share your passion.

The quintessential challenge is finding intrinsic motivation, love of the thing itself, which is the only kind of motivation strong enough to overcome obstacles and sustain your energy to achieve your goal. Many people get trapped in the pursuit of a goal which may not even be their own, agreeing to exchange their time and life energy for money or rewards of convenience.

As Daniel Pink points out in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, motivation is an evolutionary process. It started out with what he calls Motivation 1.0, the survival instinct which drives us to escape danger and protect ourselves. It evolved into Motivation 2.0, the carrot and the stick, the elaborate system of reward and punishment by which most people live and most companies manage. However, there is a far more powerful and sustainable force which he calls Motivation 3.0, that of intrinsic motivation, the passion that drives you regardless of rewards or restrictions.

RSA Animate created a remarkable 10-minute animated video presentation of Daniel Pink’s Drive, which he calls whiteboard magic, illustrating part of a talk he did for This is the science and persuasion behind Motivation 3.0. That is fine for those lucky enough to have figured out and committed themselves to their true passion in life.

What is needed is something to help light the fire for those who haven’t. Some suggest starting with a blank sheet of paper to write out your ideas, but when your mind is blank, then blank paper looks…blank! It is easier by far to start with a template to assist and seed your thoughts. To help you find and focus your passion you can start with a Mandala Chart that you can download here: Lighting Your Fire.

This Mandala Chart contains questions that will help you frame the East, West, South, and North of your Passion, the WHAT, WHY, WHO, and HOW that help you position where you are and where you want to be. It doesn’t matter if you are not able to answer the questions in detail. At the beginning, asking the question is more important than answering it.

You may find yourself in a job or career that doesn’t feel right for you, even though it is how you earn your living. Don’t simply quit or change jobs without deeply considering where you are and what you want. You may find in your new job that some things are better, some things are worse, but overall you are worse off than before due to acting without clarity.

Once you find your Passion, even if only in a hobby or volunteer project, then you naturally gain more energy to pursue it, more solutions to implement, and meet more like-minded people who can help you. The ring of fire is a virtuous circle of success. It is only when that flame dies that you find yourself in a vicious circle of defeat.

4 Rs to reach your goals

As important as Passion is, it requires focus to get results. You can be long on enthusiasm and short on results. There are many factors that come into play in making things happen, but if you take care of four fundamentals, then you will have a start. These are also included in the Lighting Your Fire Mandala Chart.

  1. Rewards. The key thing to determine here is whether you are motivated by passion, or by promises and threats. It may take you ten years to figure out how to live by passion rather than compromise. However long it takes, it must be better than wondering at the end why you wasted the years of your life. At the same time, there is no need to be a perfectionist in your pursuit of your passion. Enjoy the journey as much as the destination, the process as much as the product.
  2. Restrictions. Most people can come up with more reasons why they cannot pursue their passion than why they should. They have got it backwards, because the largest obstacles are those which you cannot see, those formed by your own assumptions and lack of knowledge. One reason why education leads to achievement is that it broadens horizons and opens up opportunities for new ways of looking at and doing things. Even if the obstacles seem obvious, write them down and take a closer look. You may find with Pogo that, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
  3. Rituals. Repetition is the key to reinforcement, and ritual is the means to repetition. Your rituals are your habits, the things that you perform regularly without effort, and that you return to, to remember and reinforce your passion. Rituals may be formal or informal, but should not be an empty routine. When you train in a martial arts dojo, you are performing a ritual to take you deeper on the Path. Top athletes have rituals that they create and perform to get into their zone of top performance. All cultures create rituals for the survival and continuity of the culture. Be flexible in how you think about and perform rituals, but include them to keep your Passion burning strong.
  4. Resources. Assuming that there is a gap between your present state and where you want to be, you will need resources to help you realize your Passion. It is worthwhile to take an inventory of what you may already have, and ask yourself if you are putting it to the most effective use. As you meet people with like-minded passions, you will be able to share and contribute resources. One plus one in the right combination equals far more than two. If you want to achieve something great, then you will need a great strategy and superior tools to match.

Before you get too deep into planning and implementation, make sure that you are working in the service of your Passion. Trade your time for money if you must, but reinvest your time and money in the things that will make your life worth living, and your legacy worth loving. All of the efficiency in the world will not light your fire if you are missing the quintessential flame of Passion.

Of the eight fields of life, one that will occupy a significant portion of your time and energy is your job, career, or business. What career you pursue and how you engage with your work is one of the determining factors in the quality of your life and your legacy.

While most people are concerned with the mechanics and features of their work, salary and benefits, customers and contracts, there is one question which should come first.

Are you engaged in your work with head, heart, and hands?

According to research on employee engagement, fewer than 30% of employees may be actively engaged in their jobs. Naturally, they are the high performers. But imagine how a team would perform in sports if only two or three of its members were committed to winning the game or playing their best!

You may have observed disengagement in your co-workers. As a manager or business owner, it may be one of your biggest challenges. But the greater challenge, and the one that you can most readily do something about, is addressing the question of your own engagement. Are you on a career path which is worthy of full engagement? If not, what can you do to improve your situation?

A life of quiet compromise

If only 30% of employees are engaged in their work, what of the other 70%? Some are so-called realists, defenders of the status quo. Others may be unhappy, but feeling that beggars cannot be choosers, lead a life of quiet compromise. Many are simply marking time.

Unfortunately, this leads to a situation in which both employer and employee remain disengaged in the workplace. This affects both pay and performance, in that employers pay just enough to keep people from quitting, and employees work just enough to keep from getting fired. That is a fine line to walk, and an easy one to cross.

Crossing the line

The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave, written by Leigh Branham and published by the American Management Association, looks at why people do cross the line and leave their job. Branham’s book is well researched and documented, based on surveys by the prestigious Saratoga Institute, of 19,000 employees who revealed their real reasons for leaving. This book addresses the problem of employee engagement with 54 Best Practices for keeping good people in your company.

There are 7 hidden reasons that departing employees give for leaving. In brief, the real reasons are:

  1. The job was not as expected
  2. There was a mismatch between the person and job skills
  3. Lack of feedback or coaching
  4. Closed doors or lack of advancement opportunities
  5. Lack of recognition or appreciation
  6. Stress and life-work imbalance
  7. Loss of trust in top leaders.

According to Leigh Branham, 90 percent of managers believe that people leave or stay because of the money, while 90 percent of employees say they leave because of issues related to “job, manager, culture, or work environment.” If this gap in perception were not so great, perhaps those employees would be loyal, not leaving.

The shift to positive engagement

What if these reasons were turned around and read as, the 7 hidden opportunities for increasing employee engagement?

Rather than engaging with your work in a minimalist way, why not turn the process around and make the shift to positive engagement? You can do this at any level from front line worker to business owner, and you can do it at any stage in your career.

The key is to keep your ideas flowing and your passion high. Direct your energy to making your situation better, and be prepared to get more active as you get more engaged.

  1. Raise your expectations. When things are not to your satisfaction, rather than disengaging, actually increase your expectations, and you will not be disappointed. Sometimes all you need to do is ask.
  2. Increase your skills. If you are finding it hard to achieve something, rather than stepping away from it, seek to increase your skills, knowledge, and experience. New technology can often extend your reach.
  3. Get feedback or coaching. If you feel cut off, rather than further isolating yourself, actively seek out advice or support. If you keep your eyes open, you will find abundant resources available to help you.
  4. Take initiative. If you are finding doors and avenues closed, rather than turning back, keep looking, keep asking, keep trying to find new ways to move forward and the passage will open up for you.
  5. Give recognition or appreciation. If you are feeling unappreciated, rather than feeling sorry for yourself, why not try giving appreciation to others. If you are sincere, you will find that the more you give the more you will receive in kind.
  6. Seek Life/Work balance. If you are feeling stressed by imbalance in your life and work, or by a mismatch between your work and values, then do what you have to in order to restore the balance. You cannot be effective if you lose your balance.
  7. Build trust. If you are troubled by lack of trust, do what you can to restore it. Lead by listening, keep your promises, be dependable.
  8. Engage head, heart, and hands. If you feel disengaged with your work or career, you can almost always do something to improve the situation by getting more actively involved mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Your business, work, or career is one of the eight major areas of life, or fields of engagement, which lends itself very well to strategic planning with the Mandala Chart. To help you apply this to your business, download a PDF template called OPPORTUNITIES FOR ENGAGEMENT. Use it as a reminder that you have at least 8 ways in which you can make the shift to positive engagement, which will make you happier, more productive, and better able to serve others.

Although business is just one of eight fields of engagement in life, it is affected by and also has an impact on the others: health, finances, home, society, character, study, and leisure. That is reason enough to get and stay positively engaged.

Performance comes from Performing People

by Guy Ralfe on January 27, 2010

Last week I was returning back from Europe to the USA via London’s Heathrow airport. I won’t go into the airport security experience, but to say that the whole security debacle, while necessary, produces such a negative image before you have even set foot in the country. My story begins after the pat down security screening. We cleared the gate and were walking down to board the aircraft when we were stopped at the entrance to the elevated gangway that connects the terminal to the aircraft.

Slowly the number of people backed up until there must have been around 40 passengers waiting to board. At this point an official notified us that we needed to wait a few minutes while some tests were conducted on the aircraft. A lady in front of me stepped forward and asked if there were any problems. The official discarded her request by saying it was just some routine maintenance checks. The lady returned to the line but was not quite at rest. Some time passed with engineers running back and forth past us out the gangway, before we were given a shouted out notice that they were having to start the aircraft engine to test it and the wait should only be another 10 min. The official disappeared but the lady ahead now looked decidedly uncomfortable.

When the official returned she asked him what was wrong? He responded routine maintenance again. She then became very concerned and began demanding that she see the signed maintenance work order, that she wanted to see the pilot’s signed approval. The official did not help the lady’s concerns and so she became louder and demanded even more proof of acceptance. The official said he would not be getting that for her but she then argued it was her right to see the authorizing paper. I am not sure if it was her right, but she now had 39 people focused on her.

I was intrigued watching the situation, now the other 39 people in the line were not concerned about the maintenance but rather was this lady going to cause a situation that delayed their flight? The official just wanted the lady to calm down and not work up a commotion among the crowd, he cared less about the maintenance – he was flying nowhere and just wanted this plane dispatched.

For me the intrigue was with the lady;

  • she felt so strongly that she pulled herself from the conforming crowd to take care of her concerns at any cost
  • in being so concerned she could not reason – no pilot would be taking-off if they had any doubts about the maintenance yet alone the 39 other passengers eager to board.

So where am I going with this observation? Following on from last week’s post Measure for Success, I have since been fortunate to participate in a strategic session based on the Franklin Covey designed, 4 Disciplines of Execution, methodology to align an Organization with its Goals/Objectives. This methodology is entrenched in setting up measures, more so it advocates the measurement of leading and lagging measures to help identify the onset of issues before they become issues. What my observation brought forward for me is that you need a methodology as a guiding principle for an organization but do not forget how that applies to the individual. Each person has their own set of concerns, part of this is their ambition and goals.

These concerns are what individuals hold most dearly and if we can align the correlation between the individuals concerns and the organization you can produce superior performance by the organization in the marketplace. If the lady did not hold her concern for safety she would not have mustered up the courage to go the extra mile and challenge the official – the other 39 people held the concern of getting out of the jetway, the same attitude held by your clock watchers in the organization.

Appraisals for Results

by Guy Ralfe on January 13, 2010

For many it is performance appraisal time of year, a time of reflection and setting of goals for the coming year. It is a frantic time as everyone digs deep to recall the goings on of the past 12 months. The net result is that employees are really only as good as the most recent performances their manager can recall at the time of the interview.

At the same time bonus packages are being calculated and targets adjusted for the coming year. This measure is usually computed month over month and so it does amass the individuals performance over the period. The trouble though, is that employees only appear to be conscious of this metric for the last 6 weeks of any bonus period as it is usually in this time frame they then can comprehend the chances of achieving their targets and gaining the benefit of a financial bonus.

For all the effort placed into the Appraisal and Bonus process it yields a relatively low return.

I read a quote made by Jacqueline Novogratz in her contribution on Dignity in the ebook What matters Now released here on Active Garage.

“Giving a poor person food or money might help them survive another day… but it doesn’t give them dignity. there’s a better way. Creating ways for people to solve their own problems isn’t just an opportunity in 2010. It is an obligation.”

Motivating individuals and aligning an organization is a difficult task at best, but if we think about it in the context of Jacqueline’s quote, making the goals and performance metrics to support building an individual’s dignity we could better produce the longer term objectives the appraisal process sets out to achieve for the organization and the individual. Today’s process supports the survival approach to objectives, not the fostering, growing and building produced through teaching someone how to do something.

Here are a few thoughts I had to create such a situation:

  1. Shorter time frames – measure and reward on a quarterly basis. Building dignity repeatedly will enforce the behavior.
  2. Center goals around the employee – focus on the employees ambitions and align the organizational metrics to that. When you are hungry you look for food, associate the corporate goals with the food and you will get a person working to take care of themselves and as a result the organization at the same time.
  3. Formulate don’t deliver/direct – mandating a goal is the same as being given something and not knowing how to fend for it again. Formulate a plan in a way that you educate how to attain the goal without directing to the goal. This produces stimulation, thought and learning which will go a long way to help individuals fend for themselves and the organization in the future.
  4. Social Dignity – we are all social by nature and need our networks to survive. Produce situations of dignity for the individual in their social network, at work or at play, will increase their stature as a result of attaining their goals.

Being human is to take care of ourselves first, look to that to produce better results from your employees and your organization.

Off Road - VW TouregI have been giving some thought to motivation and ambition and was trying to determine which is the more powerful.

My initial thoughts were that if you didn’t have any motivation then you wouldn’t be able to piece together any ambition, so that must be the most important. But then I reflected on what happens during those days that we have to dig deep for the motivation and what makes us dig deep, maybe that is where ambition kicks in.

Ambition is described as ‘a desire to seek after earnestly or aspire to

Motivation is described as ‘to provide with an incentive; impel

Assessing these two descriptions, ambition seems to imply a ‘Pull’ force and motivation a ‘Push’ force. I liken this to the ongoing debate about vehicles – which wheels are the most important to be driven. If importance is performance and driving feel, the argument always seems to settle on rear wheel drive, but if you want safety and efficiency then the argument is favored towards front wheel drive. There is however one scenario when everyone will agree and that is in off-road situations, everyone wants 4 wheel drive (or as many wheels as you have). We can all muster up some motivation on occasion, we can have some ambition and we can get somewhere. But, to be truly successful, we need to have both motivation and ambition clearly worked out and working together to get through the tough stuff and realize our goals!

I speculate that Ambition is the more dangerous of the two, because if we don’t have a real ambition that we are clear about with a tactical plan to achieve, we can easily get caught up in our own fantasies. These fantasies will allow us to still produce the motivation in the short term but will ultimately result in miss guided energy.

How many people have you heard have started a diet and given up just as quickly? People have usually packed on the pounds over a number of years and then suddenly wake up one morning expecting to change their habits and lose the pounds  in a couple of weeks of concerted effort. After the first week when they have barely lost a fraction of what they had intended to, the motivation goes out the window and the diet ends. In this case the ambition was a fantasy and the motivation wasted.

To be successful we need to forge our ambition, be clear in what it is and have a plan to get there. Going back to the diet, it would be to hold the ambition to lose X lbs and to go about it following a specific diet program, probably with some help, with a realistic target date. Now you have a solid ambition, your motivation can be held for longer and directed to produce results in keeping with your ambition and ultimately realization of your goals .

This doesn’t mean the road to accomplishment will be any easier, it just means that the road has a far higher chance of getting you to your destination and that is where the success is at.

Lock in the 4 wheel drive and hit the road to success with a clear ambition and aligned motivation!