Becoming a Deep Expert

Jetty perspective out to sea

You may remember in the previous article we established that three elements contribute to that force or energy which we call motivation. The three primary sources of motivation are our:




Together they are like rivers which flow within us, and they stream into the turbulent sea or ocean of our fluctuating motivations. But unlike rivers, which are separate, they all interact with each other, and with the final outcome - our specific motivations in a given moment or period of time - continuously and continually.

We realise as we consider each one of these elements of motivation that as coaches we can zone in on any one or all of them in dealing with a client. Take 'personality'. We are all familiar with the concept of our Personality. In some ways it appears to be us; after all, it is our PERSON-ality? There are various instruments – personality and psychometric tests – that measure ‘personality’, either our traits or types, or specifically the predictive behaviours which emerge from these traits or types. ‘It’ – the personality - appears to be relatively stable; personality can shift under pressure, but there seems to be a norm to which it reverts and wants to revert. In that sense, then, it appears to be a ‘given’; our personality seems to be largely fixed and ordered at birth.

I refer to this (in my book, Mapping Motivation (Routledge 2016) as ‘past’ tense: it goes back to our origin. That said, the fact the personality experts themselves consider increasingly that personality is malleable (that, indeed, that a person may appear to be very different at one some future point in their life from what they were as, say, a younger person or as a pre-the-trauma person) only demonstrates the complexity of the human psyche and the fact that the self-concept and the expectations of an individual can, if prolonged or intense enough, have a profound effect on the personality.

Picture 1Figure 1

For more information on the various models of personality, read my book Mapping Motivation; but for now I’d like to make a personal observation about personality. Most basic models seem to predicate 4 types of personality. See figure 1. Sometimes these are colour coded: Leader -Red, Influencer – Yellow, Connector – Green, and  Planner -Blue. Indeed, looking at this you might ask yourself, what type/colour most seems like me?

The point is that I am certainly a Yellow or Influencer type – by nature, or by my natural inclination, or as I was growing up as a kid. But doing a Motivational Map today, the motivator ‘recognition’, or what we call The Star, is not even in my top 6. Something has changed or overlaid my primary drive or hunger. It may be that under severe stress or circumstances I might revert to recognition as a driver – motivator – but that would be an exceptional circumstance.

So I think two points interesting issues arise from this. One, people selling personality and psychometric tools on the basis that they reveal your motivators are selling really a pig in a poke! It is true that if someone had no learning and no experiences in life, or conversely had an early age been deeply traumatised, then their personality profile might not shift; and so the consequence would be that their personality motivator would align with their personality: so, for example, all Red or Leader types would have Control (what we call The Director) as their dominant motivator. But this, of course, is highly unlikely and obviously a rare phenomenon, if one could believe it happened at all!

No: people learn, people have trivial and profound experiences, and as they do so they try to make sense of the world. Eventually, in making sense every individual comes to believe certain things in two key domains that affect everything: they develop beliefs about themselves (which we short-hand as their Self-Concept) and they develop beliefs about outcomes in their environment (which we short-hand as their Expectations). As these beliefs intensify they provide either an enabling and dynamic energy that we call motivation; or they do the reverse and shut us down, and drain our energy. We need to remember that whatever we focus on as individuals grows in our experience and in our reality. Beliefs will always manifest themselves in the material world, for good and for ill.

In the third Part of this series we’ll take a more in-depth look at the Self-Concept and what this means for our motivators, and how we need to take more conscious control of it if we are to stay highly motivated – and one might add, stay or achieve greater success.

For more on success with teams, also see my book, Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams (Routledge).

How do - Personality, Self-Concept and Expectations – contribute to motivation?

Chapter 2 Figure 5 Three Sources of Motivation

I recently joined a webinar run by a leading Motivational Mapper which was designed to study one chapter a month of my book, Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams. Naturally, it was great to find so many people wanting me to provide more levels of expertise on the book I have written, and of course if coaches, trainers and consultants aren’t desirous of deeper levels of knowledge and skill, what chance is there for other people? We who work in this consultancy/coaching field must constantly be striving to go further in what our capabilities can offer the client, which means going beyond some of the superficial memes and jargons that pass for wisdom on social media.

One specific question I was asked I’d like to share with you now. It related to Figure 2.5 in the book, which is the image heading this article. The question centred around how the three concepts in the image – Personality, Self-Concept and Expectations – contributed to motivation. Before answering that question directly (and there is more on it in Mapping Motivation chapter 2) I suggested we need to take a step back.

Motivational Maps Ltd sounds like a company that ‘sells’ motivation; but it doesn’t, at least most of the time. Motivation is, in the sales lingo, not a benefit but a feature. Time and again we find that whilst managers want motivation, to pay for it seems a luxury; no, what they want is the benefit of motivation. So what we sell – in ‘wrapping the mapping’ – is the benefit, which is Performance. Sometimes even that benefit is not enough: we need the benefit of the benefit! And that is Productivity. High performance levels lead to high levels of productivity, unless either the leadership or the strategy is pretty useless, and so all efforts are misdirected. And lo! The third P – that is, the benefit of the benefit of the benefit, one that can totally preoccupy managers and bosses – is higher productivity leads to increased Profits. Voila!

That’s, then, at the end of the chain. But if we come back to the process whereby the coach, consultant or trainer is working with the organisation, we are working with teams and individuals, and when we come to individuals sometimes we need to break down concepts into smaller units so that we can see the object for what it really is, and so administer the appropriate tonic that is going to nurture, sustain and develop the individual and the organisation.

I liken this process to thinking about matter. What is matter? Well, it’s made up of molecules in a certain configuration (think Performance). But what are molecules? They are made are made up of specific atoms (think Motivation and the 9 ‘atoms’ that populate this universe). Finally, what are atoms? These are made up from three major ingredients, namely, protons, neutrons and electrons (think Personality, the Self-Concept and Expectations). In other words, we can go right back to points more primary in understanding how motivation works and can be influenced.

Now somebody might say: ‘But what are protons, neutrons and electrons made up of?’ They might, but my response is that this is going too far, getting into an area outside the domain of what we can deal with in managerial situations. For all practical purposes, therefore, we have reached the basic units that can help us with people, work with change, and get results.

Thus, by way of detour, we come to the question itself. And this is the fascinating thing about it: there are three elements that comprise our motivations, and one is largely fixed – our personality – but the other two are malleable and changeable, and represent a fabulous opportunity to reframe poor performance, lack of success and underachievement. And of course, these elements of personality, the self-concept and expectations are ideal aspects of the Self not only for coaches to investigate with their clients, but also mentors, counsellors, psychotherapists and those generally interested in this subjective space where our real sense of being resides.

In Part 2 of this article I shall explore this in more detail.



Team book image
We have talked about, in the preceding two blogs, the big mistake that most organisations make in people development, which is their top-down approach; an approach they often are completely unaware of. Like some unconscious bias, they fail to see that how they treat their employees – the process - is profoundly de-motivating and un-engaging. What we proposed was the use of Motivational Maps which can only effectively be used in a bottom-up way; they are constructed as a bottom-up tool! It is true – as with any tool – ignorant, careless or simply bad workers can misuse, misapply or blunt the power of even the best tool, but since it is designed the way it is, the chances of achieving an effective result are much enhanced.

Thus, we come to the final article in this sequence of three, and it seems appropriate here to take a look at just one activity from Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams to demonstrate what is possible. Before doing so, it might be useful to remind people that the book contains 69 activities and some 84 figure illustrations to help the reader clearly understand how to go about creating a ‘top performing team’. This is a lot of practical material; and remember, a central reason why we want a top performing team is to address – which we considered in blog 1 – the issue of lack of productivity. Creating top performing teams is probably the number 1 way to address this issue.

A really great tool – and an intrinsic component of our Motivational Organisational Map - to use with any team to get a baseline as to where we are, and a strong sense of what some of the issues might be is the Measuring Team PMV Scores which occur in chapter 5 of the book. This is going to take some unpacking, but we think the effort is worth it, since like the Map itself it provides so much rich information.

What, then, is the PMV Score and why is this so important for top performing teams, and as a tool for management to develop top performing teams? The first thing to mention almost by way of passing is that the Motivational Map is a self-perception inventory tool; in other words, that in completing a map one is comparing oneself with oneself; that is to say, not with another individual or against a standard. So, self-assessment or self-rating is something that Maps like. In a different way, the PMV score is another kind of self-rating.

We think, for all its obvious subjectivity, that self-rating tends to be accurate except mainly when two unfortunate situations appertain. So, self-rating can be inaccurate and misleading when either the self-rater is in a state of fear; for example, they are afraid of what their manager might think of the result; or, the reverse, they suffer from a sort of false modesty, and a false belief that no one can be a 10/10 because ‘there is always room for improvement’ syndrome. In the former case, the self-rater will tend to over-score themselves: in the Maps we see this when we find, for example, PMA scores of 10 for all 9 motivators – what chance is it that anybody could really be 10/10 for all 9 motivators, including their lowest? Here is someone wishing to appear ‘motivated’ to their manager and not taking any chances as to what their scoring might be. Of course, the false result betrays itself and provides an opportunity for a deeper look at the intrinsic issue within the team.

The latter situation tends to lead to underscoring: the individual does not give themselves enough credit for that they have done, or even how they feel. This is more difficult to detect immediately as an erroneous result, but from a management perspective in building a team, it is more desirable than the first situation: because it is much easier to build someone up when it is apparent that they are performing at a higher level than they think, than it is to uncover and deal with the deception. In Map terms we tend to find that those operating with an ‘always room for improvement’ mentality are more frequently encountered at the operational level, whereas the afraid of what the manager thinks is more at the middle management level – those aspiring to get to senior levels, and for whom their bosses’ good opinion is vital.

However, these two exceptions are not the norm - though we need to be aware of them, so that we not accept any results uncritically – when we look at the PMV process. Remember: perfection is the enemy of progress – we are not looking for perfect results, but useful ones on which we can take practical action steps. As they say in NLP, the map is not the territory, which means that all models are imprecise in some way; what we have with the PMV scores is a model that is highly useful.

The starting point for considering PMV scores is to take all or some of the teams within an organisation and compare them, based along 4 key elements of their existence. The whole team is invited to score the team to establish the initial results. Figure 1 shows 6 teams, starting with the Board of the organisation, considered as a team itself, down to the Operations team. We can fine-tune this analysis by either removing or adding teams as we or management see fit.

PMV* scoring is for each team in each category out of 10, where 10 is outstanding and 1 is very poor.

Figure 1 Chapter 5 figure aThe first score in the Motivation column is the score from the Team Motivational Map. This will be a percentage score which for the purposes of comparison with the other PMV scores we can turn into a score out of 10, either rounding up or down according to the normal arithmetical rules: so 76% would become 7.6 or 8 out of 10, whereas 75% would be 7.5 or 7.

Before, then, looking at best methods to generate meaningful data here, let’s consider the heading of the columns, and what they mean and might reveal to us.

Most obviously – and as the foundation as it were – we want to know is the team motivated, and at what level? We then have the PMV criteria. These are: How Productive (P) is this Team? How easy to Manage (M) is this Team? And how much does this Team contribute to Organisational values (V)?

First, productivity. In the normal course of events, productivity and motivation should go hand in hand. That is, highly motivated staff should be highly productive. Alternatively, if your staff are poorly motivated and productivity is not high, then that should come as no surprise either. We talk of Reward Strategies (see chapter 2 of the book for more on this) to motivate employees and teams in order to increase productivity. But what if motivation is high but productivity is low, or productivity is high and motivation is low? These would be counterintuitive results but not entirely unusual. It is possible for staff to be productive but not motivated – at least, for a while. In these situations, one needs to investigate the causes carefully. Some possible reasons for high motivation and low productivity are: lack of skills or knowledge, implementation problems not anticipated, absence of appropriate leadership, flawed strategies, system failures, poor communications and inadequate planning. Some possible reasons for low motivation and high productivity are: insufficient involvement of those affected, fear, economic or cultural climate, focus on things and not people, over-competitiveness. Whilst the latter problem seems less problematic than the former, high productivity in the long run is not sustainable with a demotivated workforce; for one thing, staff leave as soon as that option becomes tenable. The question, then, is how productive are your team? We know how motivated they are.

Second, manageability. This is a word we like to use to describe the process of running, or managing or leading, a team; the key word here is ‘process’. How easy a team is to manage is also an important issue to consider when dealing with them and considering their value to the organisation. Ever had a customer who spends money with you, but is hellishly difficult to service?

Staff, and teams, can be just like that difficult customer, and sometimes we have to ask whether the value of the team outweighs the problems they may cause. To take two examples at different ends of the motivational spectrum: The Spirit team may be persistently difficult to manage at all; whereas the Friend may be too dependent on direction and coaxing. The key thing is the fit of the team leader and their style of leadership with the team profile. Thus a team’s motivation needs to be considered alongside their manageability: if they are highly motivated but not easily manageable, then why is that? Do the motivators themselves tell us anything? Conversely, if motivation is low but they are easily manageable what is that saying? Probably, that they are marking time and not optimising performance (so time to compare the productivity too). And again, if they are poorly motivated and not easily manageable, that makes sense – but what to do about it? What, then, does contrasting manageability against productivity reveal?

Finally, the contribution to organisational values of a team, whilst a core contribution, is not so obvious a factor as productivity or manageability. For a start, it requires all employees in their respective teams to be aware of what the organisational values are, as well as living and working by them; also, for senior executives to make this of first-order important, and to reward it accordingly.

Typically values need to be turned into behaviours; so to give a familiar example of an organisational value that is core: Honesty, which means being open and honest in all our dealings and maintaining the highest integrity at all times. As a behaviour this may become: all concerns are aired constructively with solutions offered, and each person is as skilled in some way as another and is entitled to express their views without interruption. These two behaviours are ‘honesty’ manifested in behaviours towards employees; but equally, we may – indeed, should – have formulations of honest behaviours towards customers, suppliers, stakeholders and society generally. For how can it be said to be a true value if it is only selectively applied?

The book contains much more information on PMV than presented here, but you get the drift. And what does it lead to? Well, take Figure 2: here is a real life example extracted from – almost unbelievably given the simplicity of the data – a real FTSE 250 company!

Figure 2

Chapter 5 figure c

These simple numbers in Figure 2 are extremely revealing – at least The Senior Management thought so. What you think? What do these numbers tell you about what is happening within the company? But this blog is already far too long, so if you want to check your answer, read chapter 5 of the book! Or get in touch with one of our Motivational Map Practitioners...