Month: October 2009

Conventional Wisdom and Motivation

Good article here that talks about Dan Pink and Dan Ariely along with how we need to look at the big picture.

Article: Conventional Wisdom We Have to Break

Motivation Magic: The Motivation Emergency Kit

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It is 2:00pm and you are stumped, lethargic, and deer in the headlights frozen in place. What has happened? It is the time of the day when productivity slumps and your brain seems to be frozen because the motivation magic seems to have dissipated into thin air.

Each of us has a certain time of the day when we are the least productive, for me it typically shows up from 2 – 4pm. I get work done but some days it feels like I am sloshing through wet, sticky mud instead of gliding down the river with ease.  The loss of motivation magic prompted me to do a little study. I started to notice what time of day I was the most creative, when I was able to create, produce, and feel even a bit giddy. This time usually occurs in the early morning 7 – 10am.  I know now that if I have any creative writing to do, detail work, or product development on my schedule that my best time to work on it is early in the morning vs. the afternoon.  But sometimes I do not have the luxury of picking when I get to work on things so I have come up with a few things that I know kick up the motivation magic.

My Motivation Magic Emergency Kit:

MUSIC: The top contender for kicking up the motivation during the drag times is definitely music and not quiet lullabies but hard kicking alternative rock or dance music.  I tap into my music library on my computer or go out and visit Pandora a great online music site.

ENVIRONMENT CHANGE: If the music is not making a dent in my energy level then I pack up my computer and head towards one of my favorite coffee shops with WiFi access. I have found that sometimes I work best surrounded by noise and people. The afternoon lull is a great time for me to change-up my environment and mingle with the world around me. Many times being in a different environment provides inspiration to my work.

COFFEE: Ok this one may seem obvious but caffeinated beverages are a great pick me up and there is nothing like a great coffee on a cool fall day. The benefit of the caffeine jolt and getting out of the office to get to the coffee treat are a great pair. Caffeine and fresh air a perfect match to bring on some motivation magic.

MOVEMENT: Sometimes getting up from my desk and moving helps wake up my senses. If I have the luxury of 15 minutes I may even go outside and go for a quick walk or if not just taking in some fresh air can help.  Many of us spend a crazy amount of time sitting down and our bodies seem to fall asleep the longer we sit.  So I try and step away from my desk throughout the day to either stretch or take a quick walk which helps wake up my brain and my body.

These are a few examples of what I use for my motivation magic emergency kit.

What do you do when you feel the productivity dip during your day?

 We would love to hear your tips, leave a comment or send us a tweet @WhatMotivates.

Susan

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Employee Motivation in 3 Steps (or maybe a few more)

This is a great video that highlights some key things that companies can do to engage their employees. Love its fun presentation. I would add in there are some other aspects beyond the three that this video talks about that can help engage participants (look to enhance bonding, building challenge and comprehension into the work environment, and creating an organizational culture that you would want to defend) – but these suggestions are a great start!

Today I’m Inspired by…

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All the people making a difference in the world.

I realize it is not about waiting for some great solution or grand change.  Change is happening everyday.  It is being brought about in little ways by thousands and millions of people.  People going out of their way to help others.  By people dropping off food at a food shelf.   People sharing their ideas and discussing their hopes with others.  We are making a difference in the world by helping others achieve their potential.  By turning out a light or using less gas.  We are making a difference when we smile at others on the street for no good reason.  When we allow that car in front of us to merge in.  It is all the little things that we do and that we need to continue to do that will make this world a better place.

Motivation and Attitude: Half Full or Half Empty

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So how do you perceive the world?  Attitude has a lot to do with motivation – or is it that motivation has a lot to do with attitude? 

Half Full Perception

We have officially hit our high season at The Lantern Group.  The media may be talking about gloom and doom in the economy but our high season has returned like summer turning into fall.  We are busy.  Our funnel is full.  We are grateful and appreciative for the work that we are engaged in and the clients we are working with during a time of uncertainty in our world. 

Half Empty Perception

We have officially hit our high season at The Lantern Group.  We are busy.  Time is too short and our clients want things faster and cheaper than ever before.   It is going to mean late nights and long hours to get everything done.  Plus we have more projects in the pipeline.  How are we ever going to get through this and stay sane?

When opportunities arrive at your doorstep, which lens do you look through, the lens of half full or half empty? 

Some factors that might influence your perspective include:

  • how do you set goals and drive toward achievement
  • do you work as a team to reach the goal line
  • do you try to learn new skills and add new products to fulfill customer needs
  •  do you focus on the big picture and look towards the future
  • have you spent time upfront looking at how to streamline your work and focus in on what you do better than anybody else and get rid of the fluff
  • have you asked your employees what would they do if they were running the company and then listen

How do you perceive the world today half full or half empty?

We would love to hear from you, let us know how you perceive the world by adding a comment below.

Susan

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Social vs Economic Contracts

Ariely talks about the difference between a social and economic contract.  Very important to understand when we are thinking about motivation and how we drive this at work.

One more trick to stay motivated

Here is one more trick that I’ve learned to help keep myself motivated. I have an index card (actually two stapled together) where I’ve listed out both big and little things that drive me or that I want to do more often. For instance, the first item listed is “go outside and play with the dog.” This relates to what I said yesterday about get moving – getting up and getting myself going. Another one listed is “Notice the little things.” Too often I think we miss (or dismiss) those little things as trivial or not important – when they are very important. For instance, the nice thank you e-mail that you should send someone, recognizing someones insight in a meeting or realizing that they just stepped out of their comfort zone. These are important.

This list keeps growing and it is a nice way to remind myself of things I should focus on or keep top of mind. I always get energized after reading it.

Tricks to keep yourself motivated everyday

It is hard to keep myself fully motivated everyday. I tend to have days where my motivation keeps me energized and engaged so much that I don’t realize how much time has passed. Then there are other days where I don’t seem to get the wheels turning at all. This is not uncommon. Through the interviews and focus groups we’ve conducted, we’ve found that many people (and groups) go through this ebb and flow of motivation. We tend to have periods where everything is clicking and others where we just can’t get started. The trick is to be able to understand that this happens to all of us, recognize when it is happening, and then put in place some “habits” that can help us get out of the doldrums and back to peak performance.

For me, I’ve found a few “habits” that really help:

1. Get moving. I find that if I can get up and move around for 10-minutes, I come back refreshed and more motivated. We know that moving pumps more blood into our brain, allows us the chance to see new scenery and provides a break from our routine. I try to walk outside if I can or go down and spend 10-minutes on the ellipse. I come back ready to go!

2. Start something.I am a procrastinator. If I can put it off until later – I usually do. However, I find that if I just start something, I can get going on it. I typically start with something small (i.e., write a few lines for the next blog posting, put a rough outline together for the next team call, create the timeline for our next project). What I’ve found is that this can get me going and then I just keep working.

3. Read our Credo (i.e. Mission Statement). At The Lantern Group we have a credo (www.lanterngroup.com) that is all about what we believe in. When I re-read the credo it energizes me to think about what it is that we are doing and why. While I don’t expect everyone to have a credo (although it might be a good idea) the same process would apply to reading one’s goals or mission statement. The idea is to refocus on the big picture and re-energize oneself.

Would love to hear how you keep yourself motivated everyday – leave a comment and let us know! Thanks.

Kurt

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Vikings vs. Packers: Favre and the Four Drive Model

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Vikings vs. Packers: Favre and the Four Drive Model

I am a resident of Minnesota and have grown up a fan of the Minnesota Vikings. I am not diehard fan but I do appreciate the game of football and enjoy watching a good competitive game.

Tonight is a big night in Monday Night Football, as the Minnesota Vikings face off against their rival the Green Bay Packers. At the heart of tonight’s story is Brett Favre. Most of you know who he is, but if you are not a football fan he used to be the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers for many, many years (and had a guest appearance in “Something About Mary”).  The border battle rivalry and the Favre factor have all the makings of a historic game.

Motivation is written all over this story in the hearts of the players, the fans, and the advertisers it seems everyone has a motive for wanting to be a part of this epic battle.

The Four Drive categories are clearly present in this competitive football match up.  I thought it would be interesting to try to quickly categorize Brett’s motivational profile. 

Here is how the Four Drive Motivational Scorecard shapes up for Brett Favre:

Acquire & Achieve: Winning!  Brett has never won against the Green Bay Packers. A win tonight would be a great achievement!

This drive is also a bit of a mystery for Brett as he turned down a $20 million dollar retirement plan two years ago from Green Bay for not playing – obviously the Acquire (money) component drive isn’t primary.  The need for winning however is key.

Drive Level: Average/High Drive

Bond & Belong: Brett has been a part of the Minnesota Vikings for less than 3 months. He was with the Green Bay Packers for 16 seasons.  This is a tough component for professional sports figures as they tend to move around a lot.  The experience of tonight’s game will help Bond him to the Minnesota Vikings and bring a sense of Belonging to the team and the fans.

Drive Level:  Low Drive

Challenge & Comprehend: Tonight’s matchup is a challenge for Brett. Anytime the Vikings play the Packers it is a challenge that conjures up the best-of- the-best of the players’ skills and talents. Preparing, practicing, and understanding the upcoming match are a part of the challenge.   Getting the adrenaline drive from the competition must have a significant factor for Brett.

 Drive Level:  High Drive

Defend & Define: Brett is out to Defend his character as an iconic quarterback who can still deliver the win. This game will help Define his new legacy as a quarterback with the Minnesota Vikings.

Drive Level:  Average Drive

Regardless of the outcome of tonight’s game the motivational drivers are ever present. If you watch the game tonight fill out your own Four Drive Motivational Scorecard and see how it matches up against Brett’s.

Enjoy the game!

Susan

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Managing and Motivating Employees in the New Economy

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Each person on the planet has their own unique ideas, interests, talents, skills, and motivators. Even twins who share similar DNA have different opinions, interests, and motivators. So if we understand this, why do so many organizations have one set of motivators to try and change the behavior of the masses? 

Does anyone else see anything wrong with this picture?

Our society is moving toward more and more customization. Have you noticed the increase in choices you have every day, from customizing your morning mocha to creating your own webpage.  So why is it that many organizations continue to do things the old way? You might hear the old adages: “change is hard, we do not have the budget for such customization this year, (insert your own phrase here), etc.”  Motivation is not just paying people more or offering them more perks and bonuses.  Has anyone seen or taken an MBA course on how to motivate your employees that entails more than reviewing Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs? I believe that managers in this new economy and beyond need a different set of skills in order to harness the potential of knowledge workers.

Most managers understand that part of their job is to motivate and engage their employees. Some of the typical avenues might be: one on one status meetings, periodic outings for lunch or coffee, or maybe sitting in on project meetings to see how things are going. These three instances are an example that there is ample opportunity and time to customize an employee’s motivation. So why does it not happen on a regular basis?

When customizing an employee’s motivation a manager needs to be skilled at understanding the employee’s four drives; Acquire and Achieve, Bond and Belong, Challenge and Comprehend, and Defend and Define. Once they understand their employee’s individual four drives the next step is to discover what the employee is not saying about what motivates and drives them.  Many times when you ask someone, “What Motivates You?” they will probably give you an answer fairly quickly – but by digging and reflecting a little bit deeper into their answer you may discover something else entirely.  There is more to motivating employees than just utilizing one model and tools.

The four drive model is a good start but a manager also needs to understand reflective questioning techniques, asking open ended questions, utilizing gap analysis, and paying attention to body language, etc.   Managers need to customize their motivational methods based on these insights. 

For instance, Employee A really likes to be seen as an expert – so provide opportunities for that person to shine and be recognized as the expert (i.e., lead a brown bag lunch, ask them to help present at a Senior Leadership meeting about something they know well).  Employee B wants to feel part of a close knit group so create avenues for that to happen (i.e., hold small team lunches with two or three people, set up small work teams to address some particular issue).  Employee C has the drive to Acquire so the manager must focus that person on what they can do to earn more (i.e., review the incentive or recognition program with them, work with them on what they need to do to get a raise).  The important part is to understand how each person is motivated and to tap into that motivation.  This isn’t easy. 

As I stated in the beginning of this post, every person on the planet is unique.  Managers have an incredible opportunity to develop and grow their employees but it will take adopting and learning some new skills and a genuine time commitment.

 Employees are more than just their paycheck; they are each contributing their time, skills, knowledge, and talents to an organization. I believe they deserve our time and attention, what about you?

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