(by Susan Fowler)

ARC: Autonomy, Relatedness, Competence

MVP: Mindfulness, Values, Purpose

Introduction: Stop Beating Your People with Carrots

"Are you motivated to read this book? ... This is simply the wrong question. What if I asked instead, Why are you motivated to read this book? ... An important truth emerges when we explore the nature of motivation. People are always motivated. The question is not if, but why they are motivated.

"When it comes to motivation, assuming that more is better, is too simplistic and even unwise. As with friends, it isn't how many friends you have, it is the quality and types of friendships that matter."

Why aren't more leaders making use of the better way to approach motivation?

Chapter 1: The Motivation Dilemma

[Billy Beane, the Moneyball GM for the A's; the Boston Red Sox tried to lure him away with massive paycheck and perks, and he turned them down. He was motivated, just motivated differently than one might expect.]

The motivation dilemma is that leaders are being held accountable to do something they cannot do: motivate others.

Why do we say that people are already motivated? Assuming that people lack motivation at any time is a mistake! They have appraised the situation, come to their own conclusions, and gone in their own motivational direction. They (and you) have cognitive and emotional responses to the meeting: Is the meeting a safe or threatening event? Am I feeling supported or threatened? Is it a good use or waste of my time? Am I excited or fearful? Am I attending because I want to, or because I feel I have to? Ultimately, how you feel about the meeting has the greatest influence on your sense of well-being, which determines your intentions, which ultimately lead to your behavior.

The heart of employee engagement. The appraisal process is the heart of employee engagement/disengagement; but how do people come to be engaged? (How could you improve engagement scores if you don't understand the internal process individuals go through to become engaged?) Researchers have discovered a higher level of engagement behind disengaged, actively disengaged, and engaged employees: employee work passion, which demonstrates these five positive intentions:

Researchers identified twelve organizational/job factors that influence a person's positive appraisal process.

Motivating people may not work, but you can help facilitate people's appraisal process so they are more likely to experience day-to-day optimal motivation. Motivation is a skill. People can learn to choose and create optimal motivational experiences anytime and anywhere. But before you can help your people navigate their appraisal process or teach them the skill of motivation, you need to master it yourself.

A spectrum of motivation. [Spectrum of Motivation model--six motivational outlooks]

The Problem with Feeding People Motivational Junk Food. [Steady diet of junk food simply isn't good for us.] A study: You receive an invitation from your health insurance provider: Lose weight, win an iPad. Many did, lost weight, won the iPad. But researchers followed the participants past the prize, and noticed that within 12 weeks, people resumed old behaviors, regained the weight they had lost, and then added even more weight. Financial incentives do not sustain changes in personal health behaviors--in fact they undermine those behaviors over time. They may help initiate new and healthy behaviors, but they fail miserably in helping people maintain their progress or sustain results.

Try Serving Motivational Health Food. People with high-quality motivation may accept external rewards when offered, but this is clearly not the reason for their efforts. The reasons these people do what they do are more profound and provide more satisfaction than external rewards can deliver.

Chapter 2: What Motivates People: The Real Story

Human beings have an innate tendency and desire to thrive, but thriving doesn't happen automatically. Human thriving in the workplace is a dynamic potential that requires nurturing.

Illuminating the True Nature of Human Motivation. The essence of the answer lies in three psychological needs: autonomy, relatedness, and competence (ARC).

Chapter 3: The Danger of Drive

Be careful of being driven; if you are driven, who is doing the driving?

Drive Theory (popular motivational theory) is based on the idea that we are motivated to get what we don't have: if you are thirsty you are driven to drink, if you are hungry you are driven to eat. The problem is that after you drink or eat, your need is satiated and you are no longer to drink or eat until your body is deficient again.

Anti-Drive Theory. Your psychological needs are not drives; they are just the opposite, in that drives dissipate when they are satiated. When psychological needs are satisfied, you experience such positive energy, vitality, and a sense of well-being that you want more. People who experience ARC are thriving. They do not need something or someone else doing the driving. Dysfunction exists because our psychological needs for ARC are not being satisfied.

Self-Regulation: The Means to a Satisfying End. Psychological needs are fragile; their power is in the combined potency of ARC--but if one is out of balance, the others are diminished. How do we protect our psychological needs from all these distractions? Self-regulation: mindfully managing feelings, thoughts, values, and purpose for immediate and sustained positive effort.

The Nature of Self-Regulation: Eating the Marshmallow. [The Stanford Marshmallow experiment.] Study: "teachers" set up an art project to explore why some children demonstrate higher-quality self-regulation than others. Children were told they had a choice to either start their art project immediately with a few materials on hand, or wait until a teacher came back with a big bag of art supplies, which then put them into one of two scenarios--a reliable situation (the teacher always came back with the big bag of supplies) and an unreliable situation (the teacher returned with no supplies at all). The letdown of not getting bigger and better supplies as promised made them less likely to engage enthusiastically in their art. Then, the teacher announced that it was time for a snack, and the children were given the "one marshmallow now, or wait for the teacher to come back with two marshmallows" decision. Children in the reliable group (who had received their art supplies as promised) had four times longer delayed gratification than the children who experienced the unreliable situation. The quality of the children's self-regulation significantly correlated to their environment and experience.

The MVPs of Self-Regulation.

The Danger of Drive. It promotes external motivators that undermine people's psychological needs for autonomy, relatedness, and competence--diminishing the quality and sustainability of their motivation. When employees focus on an external motivator, they are controlled by it, or whoever is doing the driving, and without realizing it, they lose autonomy. People ultimately resent leaders who create a pressurized workplace that undermines autonomy. People regard managers who drive for results as self-serving; they consider support by those managers as conditional (if you do as I say, then I will reward you in some way) and that undermines people's relatedness. Driving for results by adding pressure and tension blocks people's creativity and ability to focus, leaving them feeling inadequate or ineffective at coping with circumstances--which undermines competence.

When employees thrive, leaders don't need to drive.

Chapter 4: Motivation is a Skill

Three skills are needed for activating your own positive energy, vitality, and sense of well-being:

Leaders must understand how to do it for themselves before they can hope to guide others. Teaching leaders about motivation is difficult because they believe their job is to motivate others--not themselves.

Select a Challenging Task, Goal, or Situation. Try testing the three skills by applying them.

Skill 1: Identify your current motivational outlook. You are only interested in identifying your current motivational outlook (no judging).

For example: As I reflect on losing twenty-five poudsn over the next six months, my motivational outlook options might be:

Now look behind the motivational outlook you identified for confirmation. Referring to the Spectrum of Motivation model, answer these questions:

I might answer with these insights into my psychological needs:

Now consider the quality of your self-regulation.

Skill 2: Shift to (or maintain) an optimal motivational outlook. Choose where you want to be--which motivational outlook is preferable--and implement a strategy for getting there. To make a good choice, consider the distinctions among the six motivational outlooks.

** Getting in the flow.** [Concept of Flow] A potential downside of flow in the inherent motivational outlook: If you love an activity for the sake of the activity itself, you have an inherent motivational outlook, you might feel guilty about the time you spend on it. If you love an activity and are able to link it to developed values and a noble purpose, you have an integrated motivational outlook.

Making the shift. The means for shifting is self-regluation:

Skill 3: Reflect. Reflecting may prove to be a difficult challenge if you are a leader who believes there is no room for feelings in the workplace. Well-being is at the heart of your motivational outlook. Positive well-being has the specific characteristics listed below:

When you consider your goal, do you have a sense of positive well-being?

Chapter 5: Making Shift Happen

Outlook conversations: A motivational outlook conversation is an informal or formal opportunity to facilitate a person's shift to an optimal motivational outlook.

When Should You Conduct an Outlook Conversation? An outlook conversation may be appropriate when a situation is negatively affecting the individual--or the person's outlook is negatively affecting the team or the organization.

Outlook Conversations--What Doesn't Work. Avoid the three common mistakes:
* Do not problem solve. Bite your tongue, take off your "I've been where you are and know how to solve your problem" hat. When people have a suboptimal motivational outlook, it is almost impossible for them to engage in problem solving, let alone follow through on potential solutions. Facilitate a person's shift to an optimal motivational outlook before proceeding to problem solving and action planning.

Outlook Conversations--What Does Work. Practice practice practice. Follow the process. Be sensitive to what's happening in the moment. You are less likely to jump into problem solving, impose your values, or lead with expectations when you do three things:

Chapter 6: Rethinking Five Beliefs That Erode Workplace Motivation

"It's not personal, it's just business." Every day you deliver information, feedback, or news to those you lead that affects their work, livelihood, opportunities, status, income, mood, health, or well-being. How is this not personal? If it is business, it is personal.

What Doesn't Work What Does Work
Think to yourself or tell a person directly, "You shouldn't feel that way" Acknowledge and validate people's feelings and emotions
Be judgmental and make approval conditional Offer pure or descriptive feedback rather than evaluative feedback or personalized praising
Tolerate sabotaging actions or unacceptable patterns of behavior Facilitate the genetation of options and ask open-ended questions to promote mindfulness

"The purpose of business is to make money." When you hold this belief, you are likely to focus on the dashboard metrics instead of focusing on the people responsible for providing quality service to your customers/clients. The purpose of business is to serve. Yes, a business must make a profit to sustain itself. But it is an illogical step to conclude that profit is therefore the purpose of business. You need air to live, water to drink, food to eat. But the purpose of your life is not just breathe, drink, and eat. Your purpose is richer and more profound than basic survival. The nature of human motivation is not about making money. The nature of human motivation is in making meaning. "Profit is the applause you get from creating an optimally motivating environment for your people so they want to take care of your customers." The purpose of business is to serve--both your people and your customers. Profit is a by-product of doing both of these well.

What Doesn't Work What Does Work
Drive profit at the expense of people Help individuals align to work-related values and a sense of purpose. Frame actions in terms of the welfare of the whole
Delay skill-related feedback or punish lack of competence Provide an honest assessment of skills and training needs
See people as tireless machines Clear time for inherently motivating projects

"Leaders are in a position of power." "Managers need to be incredibly mindful and clear about the types of power they have and use. Most leaders will be surprised by the potentially negative emotional impact that results from having and using their power, in almost all its forms." (Dr Drea Zigarmi) Even when you don't have intentions to use your power, just having it creates a dynamic that requires your awareness and sensitivity. Consider the most commonly used types of power and the potential effect each one has on your people's emotional well-being, intentions, and motivational outlooks:

Employees report that when they perceive either form of reward power at work, they experience a suboptimal motivational outlook.

Power undermines people's psychological needs. It's not just your use of the power; it's people's perception that you have it and could use it.

Leaders are in a position of creating a workplace where people are more likely to satisfy their psychological needs for ARC.

What Doesn't Work What Does Work
Apply pressure and demand accountability Invite choice. Explore options within boundaries.
Rely on your position or coercive power Explore individuals' natural interest in and enthusiasm for the goal.
Withhold or hide your reasoning behind decisions Provide a rationale and share information. Discuss your intentions openly.

"The only thing that really matters is results." Consider the effect this "tyranny of results" has on the workplace. Consider three alternatives to the traditional results focus.

Instead, set goals that promote more optimal motivational outlooks, such as:

What Doesn't Work What Does Work
Impose goals and deadlines Present goals and timelines as valuable information necessary for accomplishing agreed-upon outcomes. Help individuals reframe goals so they are meaningful to them while still achieving the outcomes required.
Focus on the needs of the organization without equal attention to the needs of the individuals you lead Provide individuals the appropriate direction and support needed for their level of development
Evaluate output while ignoring effort Explore alternatives for stimulating implementation strategies

"If you cannot measure it, it doesn't matter." A specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goal simply is not SMART enough; change M to Motivating and move "measurable" to S (specific). As in life, the most rewarding aspects of work are those most difficult to measure. If you believe the statement "If you cannot measure it, it does not matter", ask yourself why. If you cannot measure it, it is probably really, really important. A true growth step for leaders is to become more mindful of promoting dreams, ideals, and experiences that cannot be easily measured. That includes becoming more comfortable with feelings.

What Doesn't Work What Does Work
Overemphasize metrics and competition Explore individuals' natural interest in and enthusiasm for the goal
Underestimate learning. Continually delay or cancel learning or development opportunities and training programs Emphasize learning goals, not just performance goals
Make mistakes a mistake Encourage self-reflection and growth. Legitimize mistakes as part of the learning process

Chapter 7: The Promise of Optimal Motivation

Most executives can answer the question, "What do you want from your people?" Most cannot answer (at first) "What do you want for your people?" When you focus on what you want for people, you are more likely to get the results you want from people.

People can flourish as they succeed. This is the promise of optimal motivation.

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Last modified 20 December 2021