To motivate people it is important to first understand what they value. In life, our personal values drive most of our actions. What motivates us to approach an activity with enthusiasm or dread is no different.
We have all developed patterns that can predict how we will respond to specific events. Skilled leaders understand these “individual roadmaps” exist and can adjust their own actions accordingly.
Because each of us has our own internal compass that will guide us toward certain actions, good leaders need to understand the individual values held by the members of their team.
In general people tend to move toward things they value and away from things they don’t. Values drive our choices and our choices are what drive our actions. By predicting the choices people will make based on their values, good leaders can fine-tune their motivation to meet the specific needs of each team member.
Let’s take a look at four choices people make that can help us understand their values.
Do It Now or Wait?
Some people tend to like to make things happen. They like to show their initiative and innovate, and are impatient to get going. Other people prefer to wait until they are directed to do something. For them it is important to fully understand and analyze events before they act and are cautious.
Who says it is the right thing to do?
Some people like to listen to that wee small voice in their head. These people take action when they think it’s the right thing for them to do. They aren’t influenced by others’ opinions.
For others the actions or rewards provided by others are more important. These people act because others think it’s a good thing or there is some defined team goal or objective. These people do not want to “let the team down.” They need feedback that tells them they are doing well or specific defined rewards.
Have I done this before or is it New?
Some people enjoy knowing that what they are going to do is like other things they have done in the past. Their routine in life will be similar each and every day. These people value consistency and predictability. Other people value variety and will thrive when they are allowed to do different things on a regular basis. For them the joy of learning new things and exploring new ground is a reward in itself.
Me or We?
Some people value working on their own and will successfully achieve tasks as solo performers. Others prefer to work as part of a team and share ideas and tasks among a group. Understanding these differences can not only lead to greater productivity, it can also mean the difference between peace and harmony in the work place and chaos.
Each of these questions is answered by all off us each and every day. The answers exist on a continuum, and are generally not “black and white”. Skilled leaders recognize them as the sign posts they represent, and can use them to navigate individual “value roadmaps” with ease.
They also help us to understand our own motivation and focus our actions to meet the needs of others.
To motivate people it is important to first understand what they value and you are no exception. As you try to motivate others the first step is to clearly understand your own values. Take a few minutes to think how you would answer each of the questions. Then ask yourself, are you the same or different from your team members?
Understanding the answers to these simple questions can make all the difference in how you and your team succeed or fail.
By John Moore