Sadly, all human beings are flawed and imperfect; all human organisations are limited; and most sadly I find that all diagnostic instruments exhibit strange characteristics when under stress. It is for this reason, perhaps, that I have long resisted, and recently so too, the pressure to get Motivational Maps translated into another language. One language is slippery enough, but what would I make of a second? Nothing, as I don’t speak any other language fluently enough to know whether its translation really reflects the nuances of the English original.
And these nuances are exactly part of the trouble. I read somewhere long ago that some languages are very precise: Ancient Greek, for example, from which so many of our scientific terms and inventions are coined (appropriately) – I guess we want our science to be precise. Whether that’s true I don’t know, not speaking ancient Greek, but I do know the English language can be a devil of imprecision. Before I move on – each downside, of course, has its corresponding benefit. I think myself the ambiguity of English sentence construction and vocabulary is largely responsible for the nation’s brilliant poetry output. But that is another topic!
No, in writing a product like Motivational Maps we want to avoid uncertainty and ambiguity, and we want subjects to consistently understand what we mean. Two years ago we had our first taste of the ‘ambiguity’ question: namely, we call the person whose motivation is to ‘belong’, The Friend. We discovered in one sector – Education, teachers – that teachers being fed back with the information that ‘Friend’ was their lowest motivator found this somewhat upsetting. No matter how often the coach told them that this didn’t mean that they weren’t a friend, or that they didn’t have friendship skills, they still found this an affront to their self-identity. Teachers were ‘friends’ after all, weren’t they?
The net result of this was that a separate version of the Motivational Map was created specifically for Education and to avoid the offence. In the new map – see www.motivationalmapseducation.com– the Friend is now The Connector to better try to reflect the essence of what we are trying to say.
Today, I went into a company and found the coach querying me on the Director motivator. This is the person who wants control of people and resources. It’s absence in large management teams can spell trouble – as the motivator to actually control, that is, to manage, is not there (although the knowledge and skill set may be). But two people quite independently took offence at the coach for suggesting its absence in their profile might be something to watch. The crux of their complaint proved to be that it was offensive that they should even want to be seen to be controlling others -that was fascist! What, the coach asked me, do I say?
We talked through the issue of ensuring the message that motivators are not skill, knowledge or capability indexes was made. That perhaps we should substitute ‘manage’ for ‘control’, and using the expression ‘taking responsibility for’ would be helpful. Nevertheless, I was left with the abiding impression that whatever words you use, somebody, somewhere is going to find them threatening, difficult, or just plain challenging.
With only 2 queries out of about 6000 Maps completed, I don’t think I shall be changing this piece of language immediately. But clearly, it’s important to keep listening to what the feedback is. And hoping – I’ve understood exactly what it means!