MOTIVATION & TEAMS: VALUES WITHIN TEAMS

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Bob Garratt, in his book The Fish Rots from the Head (1997), observed, “A Value is a belief in action.” I think this is very true. Most organisations, when citing their values, tend to use nouns – such as “integrity” or “creativity” – static words that don’t reflect action but rather something passively held. This is perhaps part of the reason why so many organisations fail to embody and “live” their values.

 

I alluded in my previous blog on “Team Voice” about how Motivational Maps can help organisations to discover whether their organisation’s stated values, and the inner drivers of their employees correlate. It is my intention in this blog to unpack this a bit further and show how this relates to teams.

 

When we are talking about teams: creating them, nurturing them, leading them, and unleashing their full potential, it is important that we bear in mind that teams, like organisations as a whole, will be beholden to a set of values. These values are partly self-generated, of course, but they may also be imposed upon them. For example, if a team has been created to solve a particularly difficult problem, then they may have had the necessity of “finding creative solutions” impressed upon them. Teams, by definition, also carry in-built values, such as “working together”, though one would be surprised at how many alleged team-players can very quickly become argumentative even knowing that cooperation is expected and necessary.

 

When a team’s motivators are aligned with its values, then magic can happen, because the team’s energy is naturally moving in the right direction, which means that the team is very likely to take action and live the values through doingbecause we tend to do the things that motivate us and feed our energy, not the things we feel we have to.

 

So, how do we make sure these values and inner drivers are aligned?

 

The first step is to identify what the “perceived” values of the team or organisation are. This is relatively simple, as most organisations will already have a set of values, either on their website, or in their internal communications. It is highly likely that these values will be static nouns, so I would say that one way to improve and clarify your values would be to turn them into verbs – doing words.

 

However, we don’t mean simply performing a grammatical exercise. For example, turning “creativity” into “to create”. We mean really getting into the specifics of what this value could mean for your staff and leaders day-to-day. So, “creativity” might instead become “always looking for creative solutions”. Whilst not perfect, it’s a good deal more powerful than simply one static word. Some words will be more difficult than others to convert. For example, “integrity”. How might that be transformed into a “doing” phrase. We could say, “to always act in a way that is honest, fair, kind and truthful.” You will have noticed that the word “always” comes into these statements quite a bit, and I think that is important, because anything less than “always” is a little bit wishy-washy.

 

Once we have established what the intended values of the organisation or team are, we can then use Motivational Maps to identify whether these values are being lived. This works well because “motivators aggregated become strong indicators of the actual values lived, as opposed to espoused! What does this mean? It means that at the end of the day whatever the organisation says its values are, its employees have to live these values, and whether they will or not mightily depends on their motivational profile” (MAPPING MOTIVATION FOR ENGAGEMENT, James Sale & Steve Jones).

 

It’s worth noting that this can be a very challenging process and we have to be brave – prepared to look into the mirror of truth. It might be disconcerting or even destabilising to discover that our values are not ultimately important to our staff and team-members deep down. But, if we are able to be honest with ourselves, and “grab the bull by the horns” then it can lead to healing and growth as we work towards re-alignment.

 

To give an example of what I mean by this, what if your organisation’s values were “finding creative solutions to problems”, “anticipating the unexpressed needs of the customer”, and “demonstrating knowledge and expertise”. This is a hodgepodge of different statements but it will serve as an example! However, upon doing a map, you found out that your team has Director, Friend, and Defender as your top three motivators. To recap,

 

  • The Director wants control of people and resources

  • The Friend wants to belong

  • The Defender wants security and predictability

 

If we reverse-engineer the formerly “espoused” values, we might get the following Motivational Maps profile

 

  • “finding creative solutions to problems” = The Creator

  • “anticipating the unexpressed needs of the customer” = The Searcher (making a difference)

  • “demonstrating knowledge and expertise” = The Expert

 

Essentially, you want the team to value creativity, customer-focus, and expertise, but instead they want authority, belonging, and security. This means that with the best will in the world, their natural tendency will be to move towards these latter drivers rather than remaining “on target” with the former values of the team. In addition, many of their actual motivators conflict directly with the values of the organisation or team. For example, The Defender generally doesn’t like to take risks, because it values predictability and security, but the nature of creativity is to take risks, experiment, and change things!

 

What might we do to address such a gap, having discovered it?

 

This is not a simple question to answer and of course will be unique to each organisation or team’s predicament, but here are some ideas and strategies that could help:

 

  • Re-evaluate the organisation or team’s values, and whether they are achievable standards given the motivational energies of the people involved.

     

  • Evaluate whether there are any gaps that could be addressed by training or by moving people around. We often find that people are very haphazardly deployed in organisations, which means the wrong energy in the wrong places (for example, extremely socially motivated individuals working alone in a room on a computer). It might be you have untapped potential in another part of the organisation.

     

  • Develop “reward strategies” that focus on motivators. Kenneth W Thomas remarked: “You need a diagnostic framework to point you toward what’s most likely to make a difference and to save you from having to try motivational solutions in an inefficient, hit-or-miss way.” If we use Maps to know what people want, then we can motivate them to an even greater degree by giving them appropriate rewards, rather than “guessing” at what they would like.

     

These are just some ways and is by no means comprehensive. However, knowing the difference between espoused and static values, and lived and embodied ones connected to our motivators, is enough to begin the journey towards more productivity, happiness, and success within your organisation or team.

 

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If you wish to find out more about teams, my book Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams is coming out December 2020. You can pre-order it here.


MOTIVATION & TEAMS: TEAM VOICE

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One of the reasons why Engagement is popular with HR and in organisational literature is that it is, allegedly, ‘measurable’. Indeed, the Macleod Report makes that very point. But whilst being measurable is a good thing, because then we can view the effects of our actions to improve things, yet one has to ask the question: given its measurability, why hasn’t employee engagement significantly improved in the 20 or so years since this concept went mainstream? Many commentators have noted this phenomenon.i” – MAPPING MOTIVATION FOR ENGAGEMENT, JAMES SALE & STEVE JONES

 

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever completed one, but staff surveys are by and large massive wastes of organisational time and effort. There are several reasons for this which I cover in detail in my book Mapping Motivation for Engagement, co-authored with Steve Jones. However, to give a brief précis of four key reasons why they don’t work:

 

1) They are expensive for what they do; after all, what are managers and HR experts being paid for if not to understand their people?

 

2) Surveys are easily manipulated because they are very obvious. It’s a little bit like those visa-forms when travelling to America that ask “Have you been affiliated with a terrorist organisation?” If I had, I am hardly likely to answer “Yes”, am I?

 

3) The information obtained from a survey, especially if there are “comment boxes”, is often fragmentary and not easy to assimilate, implement, or respond to.

 

4) And further to the last point, one of the frequent criticisms of staff surveys is that the issues they raise are not subsequently addressed or repaired.

 

Given these points, it would seem obvious that staff surveys are not helpful, but many organisations still feel compelled to have them, and there is a very valid and wholesome reason for that, which is hearing the “employee voice”. An organisation should really want to hear what their staff have to say, and any efforts to discover what staff are saying should be lauded. However, what we propose is that surveys are not the ideal way to go about obtaining this feedback. The Motivational Map is far more effective for a number of reasons. Again, these are covered in far greater detail in our book, but here is a brief summary:

 

1) Unlike a staff survey, Motivational Maps are relatively inexpensive to implement; one reason for this of course is that they never need to be bespoke.

 

2) Maps are far faster to implement and understand for the same reason that they do not need to be ‘customised’, as their language is universal.

 

3) Maps are subtle, and reveal both specifics and trends.

 

4) The information Maps provide, due to it being partly numerical (aka a metric), can be readily understood and can be immediately acted upon.

 

Bonus Point: The Map tells us what people want. When we do a Team Map, we begin to understand what a team collectively wants (see point (3) about “trends”!). This can give us valuable information about whether a team is truly a team or just a mob of individuals. One can even do an Organisational Map, which will then establish what the entire organisation wants, and this begins to lead us towards organisational “values” (as Motivators are certainly correlated with our values and beliefs), which in turn begs the mighty question: “Does our organisation truly live and embody its values?”

 

To return to the theme of “teams” however, which is the subject of this blog series, how then can we use Motivational Maps to “hear the voice” of our teams? In my two previous articles, we explored the four characteristics of real teamsand how to measure the efficacy of teams. This article will therefore focus on how we can use the information gleaned from a tool like the Map to better energise, reward, and guide our teams.

 

To understand how we can use this information, we first, however, have to understand what information the Maps give us. The short answer is: quite a lot!

 

In previous blogs I have covered some of the fundamental basics of the Maps. However, here I want to discuss with you three key - but very simple - things to look out for when mapping a team, as these elements are certainly part of listening to the “employee voice”.

 

DISPARITY IN MOTIVATION

If you Map a team, what is the range of motivational scoring between the highest and lowest? If one person in the team is 90% motivated, and another is 10% motivated, this tells you a few things: (a) that the team is probably not cohesive, (b) that day-to-day behaviours or activities in the team may be actively de-motivating for some but not all team members, (c) simply: that some people are getting what they want from the team, but others aren’t.

 

As you can see, even looking at this very simple data, we can already glean a lot of information.

 

CONFLICTS WITHIN THE TEAM

We have in Maps a concept called “internal opposition” which is where someone has two or more priorities highly ranked in their profile that conflict. For example, if someone has the Creator motivator and the Defender motivator, that might create a split priority, as the Creator loves to take risks and make new things, whereas the Defender likes to mitigate risk and have stability in their lives. Needless to say, these conflicts can also occur between other people. If someone in the team is very high Defender, and someone else is high Creator, then these two people are likely to disagree on a lot of things, because their values and priorities are going to be utterly different.

 

However, we need not even go to this deep level of analysis to get massive benefit from the Maps (we can leave that to the Maps experts!). There is an even more simple factor which we can explore in relation to “employee voice”, and that is whether their motivators align or clash with the identity of being a team itself. Some motivators are synergistic with teamwork, the most obvious example being the Friend, as their desire for belonging can truly “make a house a home” and create a sense of camaraderie and community within the team. If we were to look at purely the Friend motivator for each member of the team, and how adequately the motivator is met out of 10, that would tell us a lot about who feels like they are part of the team and a valued member, and who doesn’t!

 

Conversely, some motivators are less aligned with teamwork. Please note this doesn’t mean they can’t be in a team, but simply that it is not innate and may require more thought and work around it. The most obvious example would be the Spirit motivator, which is the desire for freedom and independence. If there are people in your team that have Spirit as their number one motivator, how motivated are they? If they are more motivated than the other team members, then does that mean they feel they have successfully broken the hold the group has on them? If they are less, do they feel cramped and constrained?

 

Looking at these two motivators will already tell us a lot about the team.

 

THE MANAGER’S MOTIVATION

It is impossible to expect high levels of motivation when our leader is less motivated than we are: we take our cues from the leader.” – MAPPING MOTIVATION FOR ENGAGEMENT, JAMES SALE & STEVE JONES

 

We must remember that when we say “leaders set an example” we have to mean it. If leaders are demotivated, then it is likely employees will be too. If we have a team that is being managed by someone demotivated then we have to look very seriously into why this is happening and whether the current manager is the right person, and has the right energy, to lead a team. A point I have made numerous times in my blogs and books is that one of the primary, if not theprimary, role of a leader is to motivate their staff. If they can motivate them, then organisation, productivity, creativity, and profits all follow.

 

So, have you mapped your team, and if you have, how does your team stack up when you consider these three key aspects? What is the voice of your team telling you?

 

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If you wish to find out more about teams, my book Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams is coming out December 2020. You can pre-order it here.

 


MOTIVATION & TEAMS: MEASURING YOUR TEAM

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Teamwork is seemingly more important than ever in our current climate. Those who are at work, such as our frontline health workers and supermarket employees, need to band together to combat the challenges and demands that COVID-19 and the general populace pose (though they may already be experienced with the latter one!). For those who are working from home, and communicating with their colleagues remotely, we need to discover new ways of capturing some of the magic, energy, and dynamism of being in the same room together with teammates. It’s difficult to collaborate with people remotely, and even harder to remain a “team” in the process, yet the problems our modern world is throwing at us demand teamwork!

 

In my last article, we explored the four characteristics of real teams and how teams can achieve exponentially more than just a group of individuals. In this article, I want to give you a helpful way to measure just how strong your team is, as well as identify any potential weaknesses.

 

In my book, Mapping Motivation, there is an activity which asks you to write down answers to the following questions:

 

How important is teamwork in your work?

 

How often do you conduct training programmes to ensure your team is effective, or how often do you experience such programmes?

 

How is the effectiveness of your team(s) reviewed?

 

How directly have you been involved in training programmes run by your direct line manager to ensure team building?

 

How many of your line managers review the effectiveness of their team(s)?

 

These questions are extremely useful to answer in and of themselves, and can give you some idea as to how your team is getting on, and areas to work on. You can also ask your clients these questions to build a clearer picture of their teams. Each question follows on from the next. So, for example, one might ask a manager or team-leader “How important is teamwork in your work?”. If they say “It’s vitally important”, then that might spur us to ask the second question, “How often do you conduct training programmes to ensure your team is effective, or how often do you experience such programmes?” If teamwork is vitally important, then surely they will be investing in developing their teams! Each question follows the proceeding one in a logical train.

 

To take this one step further, even more powerful than simply looking for an answer such as “yes” or “very important”, would be to score these each out of 10. To provide an example, “How is the effectiveness of your team reviewed?” - an answer of 1 might mean, “not at all”, whereas an answer of 10 might mean that “you are regularly reviewed to a high standard and get lots of feedback”. Add the scores of all five questions up, and multiply the total by 2, to get a percentage score (%). You now have a percentage that indicates to what extent you are functioning as a team!

 

You can take this one step further by applying what we would call the “four quadrant” methodology to your percentage. The quadrants are as follows:

 

1 – 35% – Action Zone

This means that the “team” is not really a team at all, but really a group that is likely to fall apart. Urgent attention is required, or there is a risk of the “team” collapsing into complete anarchy. This is called the Action Zone because one needs to take immediate action!

 

36 – 60% – Risk Zone

If this were a motivational profile, or what we call a PMA (Personal Motivation Audit), it would mean that motivation levels are extremely low, and likely to fall further unless we shift our focus. Similarly, with this team review, it means that there is little sense of being a team here, and this is only likely to diminish further unless we take proper steps towards improving aspects of the team dynamic. What scores can we increase? What is the most urgent one to address (for example, a score below 3)?

 

61% - 80% - Boost Zone

This means that the team is, in general, working well together. They are a team in most senses. However, there is room for further improvement! Maybe look at the lowest question score and work on boosting it.

 

81% - 100% - Optimal Zone

This would be a team performing optimally, totally in sync, regularly reviewing what they’re doing, going on training courses, and feeling like a team. The only danger here is complacency and “taking the hands off the wheel”. On the contrary, when a team reaches optimal level, as with optimal levels of motivation, the key becomes maintaining this with careful, nurturing attention.

 

You now have a very easy way of assessing to what extent your team is a team. Whilst not 100% accurate, there is a lot to be said for asking people to put a number on things (in fact, Likert scales and the like are built on this principle); unless one is engaged in active and wilful deception, the subconscious tends to supply a pretty accurate rating. Now that you can measure where you’re at, and identify potential weaknesses, you’re on your way to creating a truly fabulous and collaborative team, whether in lockdown or otherwise!

 

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If you wish to find out more about teams, my book Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams is coming out December 2020. You can pre-order it here.

 


MOTIVATION & TEAMS: FORMING YOUR TEAM

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Throughout the history of this Motivational Memo blog, and running through the Mapping Motivation series of books, we have discussed the importance and efficacy of creating, and nurturing, good teams. As stated in the first Mapping Motivation book, “Everybody knows that teams are important because there is a relentless confirmation of this fact in the media, in education, and throughout organizational life. Our everyday expectations are that people should be ‘team players’...” The fifth (and final) Mapping Motivation book, coming out in December 2020, will exclusively deal with teams in all their complex and wondrous glory. So, in order to prepare you for these new insights, I thought it would be worth recapping what we already have learned about teams on this journey.

Firstly, at a very simplistic level, we have to understand that a team is different to a group. A group is a number of people that have been lumped together, either because they are part of the same department, or through some vicissitude of fate (the members of a governing body or association, for example). A team, on the other hand, is not random or haphazard, but knows distinctly what it is. Teams are far more than the sum of their parts. Possibly the best example is that of a football team. We regularly see teams that have hardly a star player in their ranks defeat the giants of Liverpool, Manchester United, and Chelsea – and often it is because eleven players working cohesively can easily outperform eleven players who are not working together, even if the individual talents of the latter are superior.

However, whilst it may be easy to grasp this, I like to make things specific so that we can not only just intellectually understand how teams look and feel, but perhaps understand how they work at a deeper level, and therefore how to create them ourselves! From a Maps perspective, there are four distinguishing characteristics of a team:

1. They have a clear remit or mission

2. They are interdependent

3. They have a belief in the efficacy of being a team and teamwork

4. They are accountable, both to each other, and to the whole organisation

There is much more that can be said about all of these four points (indeed, Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams, the final book, unpacks these in exhaustive and original detail), but you can hopefully already begin to see how these factors would shape a group of individuals into a team. As a side note, it is interesting that there is a (popular) sub-genre of Fantasy literature which is sometimes referred to as “men on mission” (forgive the gender bias, as “men” is certainly meant to mean “people”). This invariably sees an “elite team” of individuals assemble for common purpose, go through trials and tribulations together on their “quest”, and eventually see their end goal completed (though sometimes at great cost). The Fellowship of the Ring comes to mind, of course, but we have seen numerous recent examples of this. Virtually every Fast & Furious film is “men on mission”. The Star Wars spin-off Rogue One was certainly a “men on mission” narrative.

What’s interesting is all these “men on mission” stories not only describe a journey towards some end goal or destination, but also the journey of a group of individuals to becoming a team, which is evidently not a straightforward process! If it was, I suppose writers throughout the ages, including myself, would not have written about it at such length!

But what is the journey to becoming a team? Well, a rocky one, to start with. We cannot immediately expect people to work with perfect synergy. There are certain people in the world with whom we might form an immediate connection, but to expect it of a group of people is a mistake! People need time to get the measure of each other, to “suss each other out”, and if we are talking about teams of eight people or more (I would say the maximum is thirteen at a push, and beyond that number sub-teams or sub-groups form as cohesion fragments!), then people will need time to find their place in the group.

The journey to becoming a team can be described by this helpful sequence:

Forming – where people are brought together to undertake some remit

Storming – where there is clash as people try to make sense of the process, but this produces a “dip” in performance as people may reject the process and each other

Norming – where essential agreements and collaborations begin

Performing – where the team truly becomes a team and begins to produce results

Beyond ‘Performing’ we have two possibilities. Either the team starts

Conforming – where, if we have failed to give the team further input, they begin to conform and become a clique rather than a real team; the focus, then, rather becomes activities rather than achievements

Or

Transforming – where the team begins to rejuvenate itself and sustain its team qualities, and so becomes capable of further transformative and effective work. This is rare but possible.

If we allow for the fact that things have to get worse before they can get better, and we have the courage to ride through the difficult stages, then the rewards are immense. As I said in Mapping Motivation, “Like anything worthwhile, [teams] are difficult to build and easily destroyed.” But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.