Do you know what their ‘drivers’ are ?

January 21st, 2011

As a leader, it’s important to understand people’s ‘drivers’.

We all have drivers. Drivers are those internal forces which move us to achieve. Quite simply, our drivers are at the core of our motivation.

What motivates you ? What motivates those around you ? And why is it important to know ?

If you’re managing people, understanding individual drivers – or motivators – are key to improving individual results, If you’re coaching others or if you’re engaged in a performance management process, you’ll achieve significant improvement in the outcomes you are seeking when you understand what motivates the individual – or the team – whose performance you are seeking to lift.

When I’m presenting my Performance Coaching for Managers program, I ask each participant to identify what motivates them. Recently I did this with 48 students of the Executive MBA program at the S P Jain Centre of Management in Dubai.

We often think that the key motivator is money. Of course, money is important, we’ve all got bills to pay, right ?

But as key motivator it falls well down the list. In fact, in this group of MBA students of 48 only 3 said their primary motivator was money.

The other responses included : success, challenge, purpose (I love that !), recognition, relationships, power, appreciation, altruism, job satisfaction, results, passion, sense of achievement, application of knowledge, mastery, opportunities, helping others.

The motivator which more people gave as their number one was: recognition.

It’s the same every time I do this. Recognition comes in as one of the highest if not the highest driver. Also vying for top spot are a sense of achievement and challenges.

Of course, this is not new. HR managers have been aware for a long time that employees who leave the company to pursue a higher monetary reward elsewhere are often not happy with their new employer as, while they may be receiving more money, the organization culture is not something they enjoy.

As leaders, an understanding of the individual – or the team’s – drivers will make leading and motivating so much easier.

So do you know what your drivers are and importantly do you know what the drivers are of those you are leading or managing.

Finding out is usually very simple. Ask !

“So Lara, can I ask you this – what motivates you ? What would be the number one thing you get out of the work you do?”

Then, as leader, align the change or improvement you want them to make to their ‘driver’. If it’s recognition. recognize them. If it’s meeting challenges, give them challenges. If it’s job satisfaction, help them to find that satisfaction. If it’s money, say “Sure, what else ?” then address that one.

Motivation will only occur if the individual’s motivators or ‘drivers’ are addressed. Then it becomes easy.

Leadership Avoidance

January 14th, 2011

In my observation of leaders in action, I see some fantastic behaviors and excellent processes all of which contribute to strong and effective leadership.

Sometimes I see that; sadly, not as often as I should. Instead, I see actions and reactions which erode and weaken the leader’s position and the respect which others – often, critically, those they are leading – have for them.

One of the behaviors I’ve observed, more and more in the last few months, is what I call leadership avoidance.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. Even in an era of open-plan offices or ‘pods’, managers and leaders will assure their subordinates and others that “My door is always open.” Sounds good and some leaders are genuine in offering that support should a staff member need to discuss an issue of concern.

But there are occasions when the door, even metaphorically, is not open. Recently, an employee told me of a problem with a co-worker. And it was clear that the employee relating the story to me had been upset by the incident. The manager, who observed this as he was heading off to a meeting, advised this person that he would call him later to discuss the incident.

Despite the manager / subordinate relationship, they didn’t physically work in the same office. That, of course, can present problems unless handled carefully.

Two days later the staff member called the manager and politely reminded the manager of his promise to ‘call later’.

The manager’s response to this clearly indicated his lack of leadership skills:
“I didn’t say when !” He then compounded this already poorly handled situation by saying that he thought the employee was emotional as a result of the incident so chose to give him space.

What he did, in fact, was to disengage. Rather than address the issue and the employee’s feelings, he chose ‘avoidance’.  Managers sometimes justify this withdrawal by saying that ‘the problem will go away.’

Rarely does it go away. What happens instead is that resentment is built up by the employee towards the manager, the manager who ‘didn’t care’, ‘didn’t support’ but because of his own inability to manage the emotions of others, avoided engaging in the issue.

Often leadership avoidance occurs because of the manager’s insecurities and so he or she chooses to leave the door to his office open – but the office is vacant 0r the manager is simply ‘too busy’ to engage with the employee seeking help.

Manager’s insecurities can lead to avoidance behaviors in other areas as well. Performance appraisals are avoided – or at best, brief and positive rather than being directed at the employee’s development.

They can also avoid the simple action of giving less than positive news on outcomes. This can be not only towards their on teams, their peers and other stakeholders. When this avoidance occurs with external stakeholders the business outcomes and the companies reputation can suffer.

All because the so called ‘leader’ chooses to not respond to phone calls and emails from the other party afraid, perhaps, that they are unable to manage what may be a negative outcome for the other person. They may try to take the view that they are ‘above’ responding, or that they are simply too busy to deal with this interaction.

Leadership requires strength and also an awareness of the consequences of their actions. Unfortunately, many leaders avoid dealing with this for themselves.

And that becomes Leadership Avoidance in action.

Graham Moore

A Reflection on Coaching

April 28th, 2010

I was talking to someone recently who had put together a personal development program. They’d given it an intriguing title and when I heard it I said “That’s interesting. What is it ?”

The response I received didn’t really help.

“It’s whatever you want it to be.”

My immediate thought was that I wanted it to be a chocolate sundae with a strawberry sitting proudly on top.

Now, I don’t mean to be unkind as I’m sure this person’s spirit of intent was positive indeed in wanting to facilitate change in others but when we are looking at changing, my experience is that people not only want but need to know how this will happen in simple terms.

Let me tell you about a conversation I had with a business owner just last week when we were talking about Executive Coaching.

He asked me a similar question to that I mentioned earlier. “What is it ?”

I guess I was mildly surprised to think that someone in his position hadn’t been exposed to it before but I was also aware that he may well have asked the question to see how I would respond. Either way, I was happy to explain.

Coaching is simply about delivering positive change for the individual through a process facilitated by someone who is trained, and ideally experienced, to be able to bring this about.

It involves establishing goals or outcomes to be achieved in the coaching and usually determining a time frame over which the coaching will occur.

There are various approaches but what’s important is the outcome which is delivered for the individual – executive, manager, team leader – who is being coached.

It must be ‘client-centered’ and it must be focused on achieving agreed outcomes. And it comes with accountability – the coach is going to follow-up in each session on agreed actions to make sure the ‘coachee’ addressed those actions and, if necessary, discuss any difficulties which were encountered in doing so. It’s all part of making sure the building blocks are put in place and that the coachee is committed to the process.

Some coaches follow a rigid and highly structured process.

Often I follow a rigid approach also but what’s important is the outcome for the person being coached so some degree of flexibility is required, depending on the individual and their needs. I will, however, always want the person being coached to be challenged to think not only about the outcomes but how they will achieve that.

In my experience, the individuals who respond most successfully to coaching, are the ones who are challenged most to think about possible the solutions – then we look at the pathway to those outcomes.

In certain situations, whilst the coachee is being ‘pulled’ towards an outcome, there are times when, yes, I confess, I will err on the side of ‘pushing’. By that, I mean I may set out options or give examples. I’ll even tell stories or offer analogies that relate to the coachee’s situation.

This approach could be described as ‘walking beside’ the coachee.. Most of those engaged in the experience are grateful of being given the opportunity to have another perspective, a ‘guided’ perspective which is relevant and is helping them.

For senior executives, as well as middle managers, coaching is now being recognised, not as a luxury, but rather an essential add-on for dealing with many issues and for positive growth.

As I see it, the process is the opposite of being ‘whatever they want it to be’ – it’s about clarifying ‘where they want to be” and the ‘how’ of getting there.

Graham Moore