Dan Airely, Richard Thaley, Cass Sunstein, Daniel Kahneman, Ran Kivitz, and many more psychology and behavioral economics researchers have shown that while we like to think of ourselves as rational, thinking human beings who are out to optimize our well being, we aren’t.
In fact, we are very far from it.
Sharon Begley at Newsweek wrote this interesting blog “The Limits of Reason” in it, she states, “But as psychologists have been documenting since the 1960s, humans are really, really bad at reasoning. It’s not just that we follow our emotions so often, in contexts from voting to ethics. No, even when we intend to deploy the full force of our rational faculties, we are often as ineffectual as eunuchs at an orgy.”
We see this all the time. I wrote about it in my earlier post from today “5 Lessons from the Maze.” We tend to act and behave in very non-rational ways. There are lots of irrational types of behavior and thinking and lots of theory’s about them (i.e., Loss Aversion, Status Quo Bias, Gambler’s Fallacy, Hedonistic Bias, Anchoring, Reciprocity, Inequity Aversion, etc…).
Here is what is interesting – we tend to still design our incentive programs and our motivational strategies based on believing that people act in a rational manner. We create programs that have 10 different ways to earn, with multipliers, qualifiers, and ratchet effects. We create programs with multiple components and factors that we think will drive specific behaviors and elicit particular performance results. We believe we know what people want and use only extrinsic rewards to drive our results.
This past summer I was conducting a team building program for a company that does some fantastic work helping other companies work more effectively. We conducted an event that had teams create sixty-second commercials that highlighted who they were, what value they brought and why somebody would use their services. We consciously give them a lot of information and very limited time to make their commercials. They had to do rush to get this done.
We told them that they needed to work together, be creative, and focus on quality…we emphasized how the little details matter. As you will see, the little things really do matter.
One team accidentally taped over their commercial and had a little over sixty seconds of film that showed feet walking…
We took this as an opportunity to show how important the small details are. We created the following video that was shown to the entire team at the video showings. It was a fantastic teachable moment and one that was a highlight of the meeting. The group discussed how easy it is for things like this to happen and what needed to be done to make sure that these types of errors didn’t crop up.
Take a look and let us know what you think…
By the way, the team re-shot the commercial and it was fantastic along with the others…shows you how adversity can bring out the best in us sometimes….
We know teams
We do a lot of work helping improve how teams operate. Some of it is straight old fun team building – you know the type where you go off-site for a day and do different types of games and activities (note – some people love these types of programs and others detest them with a passion). Other programs we do are much more intense and involve really working on specific team issues and developing action plans for greater collaboration, communication, or productivity.
We’ve worked with big teams. We’ve worked with small teams. We’ve done programs for executives and for line-workers. We’ve worked with teams that are working well and just want to get to that next level and teams that really are on their last leg and need immediate urgent care or they will implode.
We have done one hour fun sessions. We’ve created on-going programs that last months and require intensive work by the participants.
Regardless of the type of team development we are doing – it is also part of building a more motivational organization.
Over the past 18 years I have conducted a team building event called the Electronic Maze® with hundreds of companies and thousands of participants. Sometimes called the “Magic Carpet” the Electronic Maze is extraordinary, not because it is magic, but because of the team behaviors and emotional responses it elicits.
Those behaviors and emotional responses are surprising similar across a wide variety of groups: senior managers, line workers, middle management, cohesive teams, strangers, international audiences, men, women, and every group that we’ve ever done this with.
Those behaviors are also very insightful as to how we perceive the world, work with each other, and get things done.
The 4-Drive Model of Employee Motivation’s second drive is the drive to Bond & Belong. The drive is defined by our innate desire to form “close, positive relationships” with people around us. The image of the lone wolf going it alone or the inventor holed up in his workshop are atypical – most people want to bond with others and feel they belong to a group. Here are three tips to increase the B Drive:
A few weeks ago Susan and I spent the day interviewing 11 employees at Oak Ridge Hotel & Conference Center in Chaska, MN (see Oak Ridge Part 1 here). We had observed that Oak Ridge had “gotten the formula right on employee motivation” and wanted to probe more to find out how. From our original findings, we highlighted five things that stood out: 1) leadership counts, 2) It is not about the money, 3) It is about the team, 4) Genuine recognition rejuvenates and 5) It is all about appreciating people. I’m taking a different approach this time, looking at it from the 4-Drive Model and seeing how each of the drives showed up in the 11 interviews.
Yesterday, Kurt and I, (along with our good friend John Hall) facilitated two experiential teambuilding events, Blind Management and Build Your Own Course with 50 enthusiastic participants. It was wonderful to watch the different motivational drives in action.
Here are some of the ways the motivational drives showed up:
Drive to Acquire & Achieve:
- Teams worked together to not only acquire the perfect materials to create their own putt-putt course but they also wanted to achieve success by creating an innovative 3 hole course
Drive to Bond & Belong:
- The teambuilding events allowed the participants to work with individuals they did not know very well in activities that were specifically designed to help create an experience that fostered bonding. By working together the individuals started to become a “team”. This is an incredibly important component that the participants can utilize back at the office – to utilize their new network of colleagues.
Drive to Comprehend & Challenge:
- The activities provided unique Challenges where the participants had to work together to both understand the challenge and complete it successfully. For example, when creating a putt-putt course from scratch and with limited materials, the team needed to come together to answer questions that provided them points to purchase materials, design the ultimate course, build their hole, and then make sure the overall design worked.
Drive to Defend & Define:
- The teams believed in their courses and many felt the urge to submit complaints and challenge the judges scoring results. They had Defined that their putt-putt design was better than everyone else’s and they were passionate about enrolling others to their cause.
If you have an upcoming teambuilding event I encourage you to see how the Four Motivational Drives show up amongst your teams.
What are the dominate Motivational Drivers?
We would love to hear from you, share your comments below.
Yesterday was a whirlwind as our team facilitated a commercial challenge teambuilding event. Cameras were rolling and competition was in the air as 12 teams created a customized 60 second commercial answering a specific question on how their customer viewed a particular product. I could see a determined focus in the teams as they set out to write their script, choose roles, scout locations, and obtain the perfect props to enhance their film. It always amazes me what group and individual dynamics appear during a teambuilding event. Some of the behaviors are new while others are tried and true stand bys that seem to creep up to the service anytime stress or tension is in the air.
As I observed and worked with the teams, four things stood out:
- Leaders Emerged Quickly: This particular group of 100 people was not shy and the leaders emerged quickly. The gauntlet had been thrown and the teams were on a mission to win one of the awards along with the bragging rights of having the coolest commercial.
- Inspired Creativity: Sometimes a creative spark is easy to generate to get the ball rolling while other times it can feel like the idea bank is nothing but a dry well. Yesterday, the creative energy was alive and flowing as teams summoned their imaginations that may have been dormant for years and turned common everyday items into magnificent commercial props. Sometimes a hotel towel can turn into a life saving vest!
- Shared Experience: It seems that the more technology influences our daily lives the more disconnected and removed we become from face to face contact. The teambuilding event brought back the ability for people to hang out, bond, work outside of their comfort zones, and share laughter. This shared experience is now a part of their memories and technology is not able to delete this from their memory database.
- The Customers’ Shoes: One of the objectives of the event was to create a compelling commercial from the perspective of the customer. What a great opportunity to take a test drive and walk in the customers’ shoes. The insights that were gained by shifting perspectives were very enlightening for the participants.
Teambuilding when done effectively with a purpose and clear objectives in mind can be a powerful motivator for groups large and small. The group of 100 participants yesterday experienced learning the old fashioned way by igniting the power of creativity and imagination.