In a recent issue of LeaderLab, an online think tank that shares insights from research on leadership, innovation, and strategy, the Editor stated that “Motivation is elusive”. I responded with this comment:
Motivation is really not elusive. In fact, given one is using the right assessment, a person’s motivators pop to the top for anyone to see.
Some are motivated by independence, control and $; some by personal praise and being in the spotlight; some by having sequential processes for and family-like atmosphere at their work; and, others by having crystal clear expectations and instantaneous performance feedback.
There are two obstacles to motivating employees properly. First, we let them accept jobs that don’t provide what they need. Second, managers, being human (for the most part), tend to believe what motivates them, motivates others. These make for lots of chances to miss the motivation bus.
To expand on this point, let me share an extreme real-life example of how these obstacles can grow into systemic misalignment of job roles and natural strengths.
A corporate exec in charge of turning around a troubled US business unit came to me asking to schedule training for the units’ management team. When he described the symptoms of the troubled unit, it was clear he had no idea what the root causes of the failures were and whether they still persisted; and, more importantly, whether intensive training of any type was the solution. He described years of tumult, turnover and missed promises to its customers. The leadership team had failed to perform its function and the corporate office had taken over daily direction of the team.
As I dug into the details, I discovered the root cause of the problems he described was systemic. A review of a handful of Predictive Index® profiles showed the company had promoted tacticians to strategic roles. When challenged to make risk decisions on their own, they stutter-stepped, hesitated, let important decisions wait and deadlines pass.
It’s a common occurrence. Highly-skilled, dedicated, exquisitely-trained employees who excel in their execution of the details are promoted in strategic, results-oriented roles where they are ill-suited to perform. Earlier in the week, a manager expressed his frustration when trying to get a tactical employee to make more decisions, “When she asks a question, I push back, telling her to take a risk; and, she doesn’t.”
Soon the employee who was once vaunted for his/her performance becomes “the problem employee” and the talk turns to managing difficult people, improving employee morale and “performance plans”, code for putting the employee on the path out the door.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The Predictive Index lays it all out in a perfectly clear manner which is why our clients are raving fans.
In my own case, fifteen years ago, Bob Wilson, our founder at ADVISA – and the smartest Predictive Index person I know – said this in my interview, “If we hire you, we can meet all your needs.”
It’s been a very successful, 15-year joy ride and it’s never felt like “work”.
John Ranalletta is a senior management consultant with ADVISA, a PI Member Firm. He provides management consulting, strategic planning, executive coaching, R.P.O. and management development training to for-profit corporations, school districts, health care and other non-profit organizations, nationally. John consults, speaks and writes on the subject of maximizing results through using the Predictive Index.