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January 2021

MOTIVATION FOR TOP PERFORMING TEAMS

Team

One of the reasons why I especially wanted to write Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams for Routledge was because of the productivity problem that afflicts the UK in particular, but the Western world in general. Indeed, productivity is a concern for everybody everywhere; ultimately, if we are not productive we wither, and then we die. That sounds dramatic, but it’s true. Furthermore, there are several ways in which productivity can be raised, and the simplest of these – the easiest too – is through new technology. However, because this is simple it is also simplistic.

No-one would deny that being able to use computers or access the internet or develop Artificial Intelligence (AI) and more beside has not profoundly useful and productive in many instances; but who could also deny that each technological advance inevitably creates a new set of problems too? The thing is, technology is a ‘thing’ – inanimate, inert, and highly biddable. Which is why it is the go-to solution for most organisations. In other words, it is a convenient way of avoiding the people issue. Real and sustained productivity comes from people: highly motivated, highly skilled and highly directed people. But creating or forming such people is really complex – not like installing a new computer system.

And here’s where we come to my book: the optimum configuration of highly productive people is called … a team!

If we look at productivity in the UK, what do we find? It is estimated that productivity grew by 2% from 2008 to 2019, whereas before the financial crisis of 2008 it had grown by 2% per year! High productivity is a by-product of top performing teams; and the thing about it to consider is that productivity is simply leveraged performance(s). Each individual is enabled to perform at a high level – to reach their personal best – but wonderfully, over and above their individual performance being itself productive, the collective performances (the team’s) has an amazing synergistic effect out of all proportion to the numbers.

At this point we might also recall Peter Drucker who observed that, ‘No institution can survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it’. Actionable ideas will be, by their nature of being actionable, practical, useful, easy to understand and swift. The promise of building top performing teams is that whilst we do need intelligence, insight, knowledge and skills, yet we do not need to be geniuses or super-people; we need to be honest, diligent learners who seek to help achieve results and also to develop their fellow human beings whom we call our co-workers or colleagues. And we need these honest, diligent learners to be motivated and so highly motivating in everything they do. This, then, is a study about creating motivational teams through having motivational managers who fully understand motivation and how it works.

This issue of approaching top performing teams via motivation has never been more important, since we are going through a new revolution in the work place. We have had, about 150 years ago, the Industrial Revolution, and now we are experiencing the Digital Revolution which is almost certainly going to have as dramatic an effect on the future as the Industrial Revolution did before. A recent report by Deloitte talks about the disruptors to the world of work: increasing automation and AI technologies, workplace relocation and the move away from traditional places of work, and finally the work force itself becoming more heterogeneous, as in less mere employees, but more a combination of, and interaction between, different worker/talent types (e.g. employees, gig workers, contractors, crowds).

All of this leads to some fundamental shifts. Deloitte instances six major shifts that its research indicates need to happen. First, they head up the whole thing as being about organisations which are ‘adaptable’ in future; and to do this, organisations will have to switch from being:

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They also comment that organisations will have to consider ‘Employees are your first customers’ and that ‘high performing teams’ will be enabled ‘by adopting connected ways of working and an adaptable culture’.

As you can presuppose from my account above, I am extremely impressed by Deloitte’s research, but equally I am also disappointed. For in a 40-page document there is one word missing: motivation! Every buzz-word is used, except the one word that would really make a difference – motivation is not mentioned once in Deloitte’s report. It’s as if they think that by their analytics and data alone they can re-shape an organisation. Indeed, they talk of ‘…reshaping culture and behaviour to act with agility & collaboration’. And this is exactly what the psychometrics do: it’s a top-down approach which paradoxically claims to empower the work force. It means we are going to coerce ‘right’ behaviours and it is, therefore, staggeringly misconceived. At the beginning of the report we learn that ‘92% of organizations are not correctly structured to operate in this new environment [of the future]’ and my estimate would be that in another 10 years’ time another 92% will not be correctly structured either, because the whole approach is wrong.

In not addressing the bottom-up motivational approach organisations will never solve their people issues, although that may be good news for big consultancies in the same way that regional wars across the world are great news for various defence industries and corporations. Everyone has their job for life - their profits - and there is no change. And that is a real issue; there is an appearance of doing something about the rate of change, about change itself, and there is whole new line of jargon appearing that majors on this theme – the word ‘adaptability’ for example being just such a one. Carl Frey and Michael Osbourne recently observed that ‘Resistance to technological change does not just come from workers fearful of their jobs but from conservative elites who fear disruption to existing hierarchies’. How brilliant, then, to appear to be championing change but never addressing the real motivational issue underpinning it.

From these deliberations, then, it should be clear as to why I had to write Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams for Routledge for this is literally the antidote to all such thinking and pretence. For motivation is at the heart of building strong teams: teams that produce and are effective. In my next blog I shall explore this further, but for the full exploration of this topic go to my book, also available on Amazon


Going into 2021: What should we be thinking?

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We know that security is a primary human desire and that whenever we don’t have it, we feel – at the least – uneasy, and sometimes much worse. It is also certainly true that 2020 has been a year unlike any other in terms of the uncertainty and fear that it has generated. We would probably need to go back to World War 2 to find a comparable – or even worse – period of time. World War 2, of course, lasted for six years and the thought that Covid-19 could do the same might well inspire a profound terror in all of us. However, we have been reassured in recent months that vaccines are coming down the line and that it is only a matter of time before the virus is contained. Let’s hope so.

But as we wait to see, some developments are already occurring which are of profound interest to all of us who are in the consultancy, training and coaching businesses – especially those who are both deep experts and also well-established in this field. I owe to my good friend Ian Brodie (linkedin.com/in/ianbrodie) the following information which he mined from The Financial Times. Apparently, there is world-wide a surge of new businesses being formed. In the USA, the UK and France for comparable periods of time with the same in 2019, there were 82%, 30% and 20% increases in applications respectively. In France these were the highest ever recorded. It is probably a safe bet to conclude that this is happening in all Western democracies.

What is this telling us? Probably at least two things. One, that work is never going to return to what it was; that there is going to be a new normal that establishes itself by the end of 2021 (assuming that the virus is contained). Two, that the rush to create new businesses is because an increasing number of people are beginning to realise: a. that they don’t like working in offices anymore, and b. that there is no security in so doing; the job for life is truly well and gone and this crisis exposes it. So, what is the alternative? Strangely, it is following GK Chesterton’s advice: “There is no way out of danger except the dangerous way.” Starting a new business is a highly risky undertaking, as all the statistics show – some 80% of businesses fail in the first five years! Yet, this now seems less dangerous or less risky than staying in a job; add to that the fact that many now realise it is probably going to be far more enjoyable anyway – succeed or not – then you have a far-reaching situation emerging.

And the point? Well, what an opportunity for those consultants and coaches who are deep experts already in this field, and who have been round the block a few times! If we cast our minds back to when we first started, what do we remember? I have been self-employed and running businesses for 25 years now, but I fully accept that I was woefully under-supported when I started and could have benefited massively from some coaching that would have prevented me from making some of the colossal mistakes I made! Furthermore, a really good coach would almost certainly have got me where I wanted to be much quicker than I did. In fact, I didn’t start using coaches for myself till well after five years from when I started. That’s a lot of lost ground to make-up.

So what we have, then, is potentially hundreds, if not thousands of individuals wanting to come into this market over the coming year or two. Indeed, it has already started. We at Motivational Maps have just received an enquiry from someone being made redundant – but having experienced the Map within their role – and now seeking to be accredited in our tool. And I think this too is an important point: being a coach or consultant is one thing, but differentiation is going to be critical. Access to a brilliant tool, a relevant tool to today’s changing work place, is critical. As it happens, Motivational Maps is just that tool: it is possibly now the most pre-eminent change tool in the world; and part of its glory is its simplicity. Yes, simplicity to read and understand, but then within it, layers of complexity and extra value that coaches, consultants and trainers can deliver.

A good place to start thinking about where these new self-employed people might be is in your own databases – if they are on Linkedin, what indeed is happening, what shifts might be occurring? The thing is, these will not be high-ticket items like working for corporates, and not as ‘prestigious’ either. But as I like to say, “Small fish are sweet” and there are a lot of them. Plus, from the Searcher point of view, which many coaches are, it’s simply fantastic being able to help them launch their business successfully – to be part of it with them! We know a thing or two about that in Motivational Maps because that is one of the things our tool does: helps coaches become more fantastic, more successful.

Follow this link to connect with a Motivational Map Practitioner.