Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics

10 skills at the heart of every leader’s arsenal.

“Topic 2 – Motivating your future team.”

transcript written by Wayne Brown

WOW, you have reached a truly vital stage in the overall Leadership basics series. 

Today our attention is squarely focused on how to motivate your team members.

There is so much great information in this podcast that we debated splitting it in half, but as we’re already committed to having one episode for each of the 10 skills, we’ve found a way to package it. 

Are you ready? Sit back, stay tuned in and remember the transcript and any links will be contained in the accompanying blog.  Here we go…

We’ll cover in the next 20 minutes broadly deals with seven key considerations when understanding and addressing the topic of motivation. We can split these 7 into 3 clusters.

The first cluster of 3 considerations we call our “Motivational Enablers”. This cluster are like the pre-requisites to motivating and cover Leadership behaviors, workspace & environment plus a healthy mind.

The second cluster – a group of 2 considerations, we call our “Motivational platform” – where we look closer at our workforce generational mix and the various motivational theories available to us. 

The final and 3rd cluster we call “Motivational techniques”. Where we dig into using rational and emotion when triggering action.

Under emotion, we explore both extrinsic and intrinsic motivators to satisfy the inner needs. The final area looks into the latest neuro-science model, called SCARF, which assists us in determining the right intrinsic motivators to use based on behavioral preferences.   

Before we go further, however, I want to pause here and add that to be successful in motivating the team requires effort and focus on your part. 

Seldom have we witnessed a motivated team where the leader hasn’t been fully engaged and leading the way. 

Hence all of the following 7 considerations require you to be in the center of the action. 

With that said, let’s move into our first cluster, the “Motivational Enablers”- these are a pre-cursor before attempting to motivate and, if addressed properly, will improve your chance of success dramatically. 

#1 in cluster 1 is you as the leader and the leadership behaviors you display and operate from. Your team wants a leader that embodies all 5 of the following behaviors.  Trust, Listen, Share, Accept and Enable;

  • Trust – the team wants to trust that you have their back and will stand by your word. In turn, you need to demonstrate that you trust the team and that they are working with you, not against you.  
  • Listen – remember the concept of having 2 ears and one mouth. Practice active listening and encourage dialogue. Give your team a chance to have their say.
  • Share – communicate openly, transparently, and frequently. Remove the potential for hidden agendas and rumors with regular townhalls, Q&A, and feedback sessions.
  • Accept – that the team is competent and capable. Seek opportunities to engage them in the decision-making process and learn how to delegate meaningfully.
  • And finally, Enable – building on the first 4 traits, ensure that you provide a way for your team members to develop and grow. Provide sufficiently challenging tasks which encourage their input and shared learnings. 

One last consideration here – as leaders today, we must accommodate diversity and virtual teams. This brings with it different cultures, work environments, and potential for communication challenges, which may hinder our ability to successfully demonstrate all 5 of these behavior traits. 

Leaders today, therefore, need not only to be effective in F2F situations and with their own local teams they must be clear of how to build that trust and relationships in all circumstances to effectively connect in our global operations.

The 2nd “Motivational Enabler” looks at our workspace & environment – not always something which is fully within our immediate control, given budget constraints and fixed facilities. 

As was just mentioned, we must also give due consideration to the reality of today’s virtual teams. These can be as simple as employees working from home or out of their vehicles, to more challenging scenarios in dealing with team members scattered regionally or globally.

But suppose you are creative and engage your team to participate in open dialogue and the decision-making process. In that case, you can and should develop ways to improve the working environment and meet the current day less formal, modern, and healthy workspace expectations – it’s something that nearly all employees we speak with want and appreciate.

Whether this is a fixed or mobile space, remote or local location, taking steps to transform your team’s surroundings, the ambiance, and creating an overall healthier atmosphere can generate a mindset change and positive impact on working attitudes.

The 3rd and final “motivational enabler” and pre-requisite to motivating are a little more challenging to ensure than the first two. It looks at enabling a healthy mind through 7 key foundational life and work practices. 

A detailed review of these 7 practices can be found in an article titled “The Healthy Mind Platter,” published by the NeuroLeadership journal issue 4, back in 2012. 

We’ve placed a link to the article in the blog notes.

To avoid becoming too technical with the explanation, we’ll leave you to read through and understand more deeply about each. You should notice, however, that it supports many previously held beliefs in similar areas of research. 

Here’s the list of seven daily practices required for creating a healthy mind;

  • Sufficient sleep each night (but also considers the use of 10-15 min daily power naps)
  • Get regular physical exercise
  • The ability to engage in playful activities during the day
  • Ensuring sufficient rest time (which is different from sleep)
  • Opportunities for socializing with colleagues, friends & family  
  • Importantly work-related focus time – doing this in chunks is highly effective 
  • And the last is the practice of mindfulness – the newest perhaps in the group and is the subject of considerable research – we see the practice becoming quite common and popular nowadays.

So, there you have it – start with your own mind – challenge yourself to see which of these you are or are not fulfilling, and then look to your team. 

Question your team’s current working & lifestyle – what might be changed to enhance or enable these 7 practices? 

Remember, any of the 3 motivational enablers may work as a motivator, but they serve to open the team to increased performance possibilities. 

Right, so we have addressed the Motivational Enablers and are ready to tackle the two topics in Cluster 2, which we call our “Motivational Platform.”

And the first is a major one. Today, our workforce spans 4 different generations – from baby boomers through Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z or iGen as they are regularly referred to. 

There is nothing new with the age spread – young employees have traditionally entered the scene around 18-20 years of age and worked beside veterans 60 years or more, thus offering a breadth of working knowledge and expertise spanning 40 – 50 years. – i.e., someone that entered the workforce in 1970-1975 is retiring as we approach 2020. 

The clan’s newest member is Generation Z and will soon form the second largest of the 4 groups mentioned. By 2020 it is estimated that the iGen’s will make up 20% of the workforce.

The difference, however, comes when we explore the era that these generations have grown up in and, therefore, the expectations that accompany them. 

In some instances, those expectations have compounded from generation to generation, while particularly in the Millennials and Gen Z case, they have been born into different eras – be it wealthy parents, the threat from terrorism, global financial crisis, or technology explosion and digitalization.

In the latter case, digitalization, we see the technology on every level continually reinventing itself at increasing speed. 

So much so that we’re now entering one of the most transformational periods in our history and certainly for this current workforce demographic. 

We are seeing a convergence of multiple technologies, each one singularly changing how we live, but collectively the impact is probably beyond most of our imaginations – and this in the space of just a few years.  

Your role as a leader is to come to terms with the varying needs and expectations as you look to employ the right motivational techniques.  

We provide links to several articles which discuss Gen Y and Gen Z.

OK, so we’re almost ready to start motivating, but “what should we focus on” and “how to do it” – these 2 questions need to be considered first & therefore forms the 2nd topic of this cluster. 

For more than a century, researchers have been asking these questions and the results are quite interesting. Here, we list many better-known motivational theories that have evolved from more than a century of studies. Theories from legends such as Freud, Maslow, Herzberg, Vrooms, and Adams, through to the more modern and less known neuro-science studies and people such as David Rock.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, that over time, as our workforce evolved, so to have the research findings. 

Of course, technology has played a significant role, enabling us to perform our studies in different ways – particularly in recent decades with the developments in neuroscience. 

With each new theory comes a new level of sophistication in our understanding. 

And as each theory gets accepted by the experts and adopted, we begin to glean a common thread linking past findings and while also identifying elements that bring something new to the table. 

Note that to move forward and onto our 3rd and final cluster, we will work mostly with modern-day theories – those originating during the 1970s through to the last decade. 

And so now to Cluster 3 and the last two of our topics, we’ll discuss the use of “rational & emotional strategies” and how to leverage these to motivate. In particular, we zoom in and explore our extrinsic and intrinsic inner needs.

We have learned that leaders need to address the rationale (i.e., provide a logical, well-structured, wholistic, and simplified communication) when introducing any change topic to the team.

To do this, the leader must provide the meaning related to the topic and enable the team to see the big picture and where they fit into this process. 

This helps individuals, when receiving the information, to digest and associate with it on a personal level. It offers the chance for clarity on the reasoning behind the action. By itself, however, is unlikely to be sufficient.

That’s because we often need a little emotional stimulus to kick start us into action. Here we identify two methods to generate this emotional tie – firstly, we have the traditional power play at our disposal. However, this is no longer the accepted approach in most cultures. 

It may be necessary for certain circumstances, but we try to avoid this method of leading through authority as a general rule. 

The preferred way to trigger buy-in and action is via motivation, and this is what we will focus on for the remainder of this discussion.

Starting with the understanding of two words, “extrinsic” and “intrinsic.” Extrinsic, meaning to provide a short to medium-term stimulus for individuals – through things such as incentives, pay increases, or bonuses. 

We often refer to this as the carrot used to derive an outcome, and while this may be necessary for some circumstances to bring balance and fairness, it not always possible, nor is it seen as a lasting solution. 

The most preferred approach is to address those inner needs by focusing on those intrinsic motivators – and depending on the individual, these will differ. Fortunately, there are various options available – recognition, empowerment, autonomy, challenging tasks, etc., each of these falling into this intrinsic category.  

We now know that we need to lead change through the use of both rational and emotional stimuli. 

For the emotional component, we do so through motivating, perhaps using a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic motivators but leaning mostly on the inherent needs. 

And now for the final piece of the puzzle – an understanding of how to determine the best motivators for each individual in your team?

To assist us in the task, we turn to neuroscience and the latest study published in 2008 on motivation thru determining what triggers social behavior. 

There are two aspects – the first being the principle of threat and reward. The second being 5 domains of social experience, which depending on how each is triggered, can activate a negative, threat response or a positive reward response with our brains’ neuron circuitry.

The actual model uses an acronym called SCARF – and each letter relates to one of the 5 domains. They are Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness. 

In the blog, we’ll include a link to the site where you can complete a free online assessment to determine your own domain mixture and which of the 5 are most dominant. 

Understanding yourself first helps you understand the tool and the theory better. It would then be useful to have your team perform this same assessment to have a clear picture about which domains you need to focus on when trying to motivate an individual through reward and which areas you need to be careful not to trigger as a threat. The good news is that this model works across our generations – naturally with differing dominant domains but still with the 5 in play.     

And that’s it – we’ve covered a lot of territory with this podcast, examining 3 clusters of 7 different considerations to achieve highly motivated current and future teams.

The more of clusters 1 & 2 you can incorporate into your preparation and planning, the higher the chance you will have great success motivating your team. 

Provided, of course, that you then incorporate the “how-to” actions – i.e. 

  • combining both the rational and emotive strategies 
  • blended with a mix of extrinsic and intrinsic needs
  • and coupled with what we have learned from the SCARF model on treating each individual based on their social, behavioral preferences. 

We’re planning an Advanced Leadership series to follow this 10-episode Basics series and a promo opportunity here. One topic will be Peak Performance – this is a continuation of this motivation topic and the next topic on delegation – with these two locked in place, the discussion around peak performance makes a lot more sense.

Right so we have finished with our 2nd of the basics

Basic 1 was about Understanding your place in the team

and this one

Basic 2, about Motivating your current and future team.

Next up we look at how to take our motivated employees and find creative ways for you the leader to engage and delegate tasks or projects.

Looking forward to you joining us as we explore what our 4 generations require and answer 3 questions related to delegation – “WHY WHAT & HOW.”

BTW, if you haven’t done so already, don’t forget to subscribe on our website to receive automatic notifications as each new podcast, video, and blog is released. 

Looking forward to chatting again shortly. Cheers for now.