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September 2009

MOTIVATING THE BRITISH ROYAL MAIL: PART 2

Following on from our debate last time, I am almost certain that regarding the Motivational profile of the Royal Mail, we would find the following: the staff would predominantly have Relationship motivators. Time for them is slower and change is largely to be avoided, since they want certainty. Since the staff make up the bulk of the Royal Mail, it follows that screening the whole organisation would produce the same result: the dominant motivator is relationship based.

The senior executives, on the other hand, are Achievement motivator based. For them time is faster, and outcomes, not relationships, are what is important. One important outcome will, therefore, be cost cutting, efficiency, savings.

Beyond the senior executives will be the consultants advising them – often in fact Professor X and a team from a leading Business School. These will tend to be Growth orientated: faster still than the Achievement motivated, and concerned with growth – not the same as the tangible outcomes of the cost-cutters. One slightly over-simplified way of expressing this might be: the Achievers will tend to want efficiencies, whereas the Growth motivators will move towards effectiveness. Both are necessary, but like centripetal and centrifugal force they go in opposite directions.

What this all means – surprise, surprise – is that all three groups are really speaking a different language and coming from a different ‘space’. This space isn’t inconsequential – it is the energy space that we describe through our motivators; for that is what motivation is - an energy. Thus, it is so difficult to deal with people whose energies are running counter to ours – the difficulty is way beyond mere intellectual dissent.

What the Maps could do is:

a.     provide that language that would make sense of some of their dialogues

b.     suggest appropriate reward strategies that would work, that would touch the ‘hot buttons’ of the other side

In this way the Maps could help redefine the conflict.

Of course what this is in essence is a change management programme, but one that cuts to the chase: the motivational profiles are where our energies go – they therefore go straight to the heart of what we want! And when people offer us what we want, we tend to be more compliant.

If the management of the Royal Mail understood what people wanted at a motivational level, and started using the language and reward strategies accordingly, how differently might this conflict turn out?

James


MOTIVATING THE BRITISH ROYAL MAIL: PART 1

I gave a talk at the Institute of Directors last Friday and alluded to the application of Motivational Maps to the current dire situation developing within the British mail system, The Royal Mail – its managers and workers. Somebody afterwards asked me to expand on my remarks. Although I am not following the situation closely, and neither am I a corporate consultant – my focus is the SME market – nevertheless I do believe the Maps are highly relevant.

First, though, let it be said: there is no easy panacea, and in discussing how the Maps could help resolve some of the problems we need to bear in mind that once conflicts start many non-rational obstacles arise – including intransigence and the need for victory – that go way beyond what might be construed as rational or constructive debate.

What, then, have the Maps to offer the Royal Mail? Before answering that question we need to identify what is the major ‘driver’ of the Royal Mail as an industry? There are three major drivers and no business/organisation can be equally strong in all of them: Time, Cost and Quality. It is manifestly obvious, for example, that we cannot provide products or services at the minimum cost, in the least time, and yet have the highest quality. In the case of the Royal Mail the key driver is Time – letters need to be delivered by the next day; Costs need to be controlled; and Quality is the least important driver of its core function. So 2 million letters a year go missing is OK; currently, depending on who you read, some 20 million letters are ‘lost’- but Quality is not the issue, so they can get away with that.

Imagine now the widget producer: speed of production (Time) is not the first driver, but second or third. Cost is the key issue – if one can produce the widget for a dime less than the competition, then one is in business.

Finally, take consultancy services as another sector: here the important driver is Quality – if it takes longer, costs more, so be it – but we want the best advice.

Now Motivational Maps depicts an interesting parallel universe with these three drivers. Basically, the nine motivators of work divide into three groups of three: relationship motivators, achievement motivators, and growth motivators. And these also in their hierarchical structure provide a speed and change index. People/team/organisations which have a predominantly relationship profile tend to be slower than the achievement set, who in turn are slower than the growth group. What does this mean? It means that the three drivers (Time, Cost, Quality) are precisely correlated with the three motivational groups (Relationships, Achievement, Growth).

The Royal Mail is not a client of mine and has not done a Map profile, but if we were to ask the question, What is Map profile of the Royal Mail? What would the answer be? Better still: what is the profile of the whole Royal Mail? The senior management team’s profile? The staff’s profile? And finally, and interestingly, what is the profile of the consultants who advise the senior executive?

I am certain we can predict the answers to these questions, which throws considerable light on the current problem. Read Part 2 of this blog next week!!

James Sale


SUNDAY MOTIVATION

I don’t like admitting I’m an addict – but the truth will out.

It’s Sunday morning, 4 AM, and I am staggering up in order to leave the house at 5 AM. We are scheduled to drive from Bournemouth to Newham Sports Centre – in North East London.

My wife has made this trip before and advised: don’t take the short route via the counter-clockwise M25 Dartford Tunnel. It’s murder, she says. Then again, trying to navigate across London in a ‘direct’ line is also fruitless and frustrating. So, go the best route: clockwise around the M25, circling the circumference of London. Come off at Junction 27, and then the Sports Centre is only a dozen or so miles away. This actually adds an extra 50 miles each way – but, I am sure you can imagine what you may miss by way of consequence.

Why am I doing this? Do my readers see me as someone on an intense fitness programme that requires work-outs in London? No, my son Joe is competing in the Under 20 BFA Foil competition and it’s pretty important to him that he achieves some result. Fencing (Foil) is like tennis in terms of ranking – you turn up, get points, these are added up, and over time you – hopefully – go up the rankings. Naturally, motivation is a core component of competitive sport.

But as I was saying, I am addict. You see, we left at 5 AM, having had a good breakfast, including a solitary cup of tea. I felt fine, but by the time I hit Southampton I was yawning. By the time I hit Heathrow I was positively drooping. I pinched myself, I drank water, and I attempted a mild form of acupressure with my right hand – my left hand firmly on the wheel. Nothing seemed to work – and then there was the South Mimms Service Station ahead.

I knew what I needed – the fix. One hot cup of Americano later and I felt alive and awake again; and partially ashamed! Yes, I have read “Caffeine Blues” - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Caffeine-Blues-Hidden-Dangers-Americas/dp/0446673919 - a searing indictment of the effects of coffee. But, I was in the now – and needed it now! The rest of the trip seemed a dream.

There is a theory I am developing here: every one of us has one ‘fix’ we cannot do without. Or what might be termed, my Sunday Motivation.

James Sale


CHRIS BROGAN AND SELF AWARENESS

I am sure we can all agree that there is a new growth industry that it is almost impossible to avoid, and they are the pedlars of the social networking technologies. ‘They’ are everywhere – and they can become extremely annoying.

My last blog denigrated the Twitter phenomenon – and received unexpected praise! – so perhaps I need to say a little more; at the risk, perhaps, of my luck running out.

That social networking helps business who could deny? But the trouble is some of the pesky methodologies that arrive like SPAM in the mailbox. Everyone and his dog can tell you how you make a fortune from using these methodologies. And then, surprise-surprise, the technology morphs into a huge concert/seminar somewhere that you simply have to attend for a mere …$/£ and there the final secret will be revealed (or alternatively in the 12 box DVD set for  a mere …).

Well, I have consigned most of these to the SPAM filter now, but one person I have found consistently interesting and useful is Chris Brogan. He can be found at http://www.chrisbrogan.com/ or email at blog@chrisbrogan.com. Chris like everybody else is making a living at the social networking stuff, and he makes no bones about it; but he also supplies a lot of useful free information and insights. Why then do I think he is different from the average commentator on this scene?

What I really like about Chris Brogan is underpinning nearly all the communications is first, a genuine attempt to communicate on a personal level, despite the fact that it is a mass mailing. And how does one do that? He does it by, secondly, being acutely self aware. That’s it: self awareness. As you read his material you begin to understand the assumptions underpinning what he is doing since he is laying his own motivations bare. This is incredibly engaging, honest and empowering – the latter especially because one can emulate what he is doing.

This observation should really come as no surprise since the foundation of all personal growth is self-awareness; as the Greeks said, Know Thyself. Without self-awareness we cannot grow into the people we could become, and this applies as much to being effective social networkers as anything else. It should come as no surprise but of course it does, precisely because so few people are that analytical or direct or honest or all these things!

So, three cheers for Chris Brogan and his blog – it motivates me – check him out and he may motivate you.

James Sale


TWITTER, TWEET, TWADDLE & LINKEDIN

Some of you reading my Blog may have noticed how seamlessly it is now integrated into my LinkedIn profile. The wonder of technology.

I, like everybody else, am being encouraged to use social networking media. Not long ago a business colleague of mine invited me to join them on Facebook; I obliged. Hmm. Very soon people I knew 25 years ago were contacting me. Admittedly that was interesting and welcome. Others too – even my son’s fifteen year old friend! Ah – cute! But a swift trawl through some of the content of some sites left me feeling – what’s the point?

Then a good friend insisted we should be on Twitter. Get a following, he said, and to do that you follow first, then you lead. Eighteen thousand people could soon be with you, following you. Sound great?

Well, we experienced, my wife and I, Twitter briefly. And what an appalling concept Twitter is.

British industry has long complained about levels of education of school leavers and even graduates. The phrase ‘can’t string/write two sentences together’ springs to mind. And currently, it is unclear to me whether Twitter is a causal or symptomatic link. Certainly, symptomatic seems more likely (given its relatively recent appearance). But that is only a question of time – like television programmes which imitate reality, eventually reality imitates the programmes. Eventually, no-one in the ‘normal’ population distribution will be able to write more than 140 letters. In short, no-one will be able to think.

I wanted to quote from Twitter to show the inanity – the Twaddle – of all this ‘tweeting’, but really wherever you go you find exactly the same stuff. It’s like being on a train and listening to the many Ancient Mariners on mobile phones who have to shout out loud: “I am on a train … yes, that’s right. I’m on the train … sorry … yea… tunnel  … yea … on a train”. So there’s little point in quoting it – it’s beyond parody.

On the other hand, I have also discovered LinkedIn – what a contrast! How useful and relevant an application is this. How useful to be able to stay with people as they move from role to role. How clear it is to be able to connect with people beyond your own network. Finally, in this brief eulogy, how wonderful to be able to join special interest groups and see key issues being raised and answers proposed.

I am pretty amazed by LinkedIn and recommend all business people to join it. It’s not like the naff side of social networking – sure, there will be unwelcome people who try to exploit the system, but no group, club, organisation is free from that problem, virtual or otherwise. It has, perhaps, most compellingly, clarity of purpose: it exists to do something – smooth business for business people. That to me is music; so go for music – avoid the noise elsewhere.

James Sale