Moving Motivators and how the motivators Move

What motivates you in life is important, and you knowing what motivates you is more important. Often, it’s like the things which makes you happy, while there may be others which really don’t matter much in life.

Whenever people ask this question what motivates you, trust me money comes in mind the first for most of the people. You might not say it as it doesn’t look good, but yes, money does motivate. Is it the only thing, a big NO.

There is a famous Dan Pink video which shows that at some point, giving more money works the other way, which is surprising but true. Money motivates till money is a factor on the table, once you take it off the table, there are many other things. And then it cites some examples like development of Linux where people made it for free, but the motivation was very high. They had their jobs but developed a free operating system. Big motivations often come from passion people have.

Coming to the IT world, I remember my initial discussions with a mentor asking me what motivates me. For me it’s probably been Mastery and my goal. But again, motivators are not constant. What motivates me today, might not motivate me when I become CEO.

Coming to Management 3.0 “Moving Motivators”; When I introduce the game, I often see people getting confused with the images and the text of the cards we distribute (You can see in the image). I tell them not to worry because every individual has his own interpretation of an image or some text. Something like Power might mean that I can control things around; for someone it could be that he has authority to take decisions and for someone could mean being a CEO. So, the words and their meanings are not important, but it’s the underlying story which is important.

I start by telling people to order the motivators from left to right thinking about their whole life keeping the left most which is least significant motivator to the right most telling the most significant one. I pair them up and let them describe in groups how the motivators motivate them in real life. Then I tell them to think about last quarter and move 2 cards up which are high motivators currently and 2 down which are least. I’ve seen some of their high motivators go down, which is interesting. Imagine something is a high motivator for me in life, but in the last quarter it was my least motivating thing. Some powerful stuff.

In one variation, I again make pairs and let them tell stories in the room to everyone. In another variation, I make triads, and tell them to get me a real-life story of how they show that the motivator is a big motivator for them.

One thing I realized in time is how they take this back and use it, so post 2 initial such sessions, I introduced a section where I ask them (not me telling because I was doing this initially) on how they can use this information for themselves or others. It’s like first telling I can use my motivator in such way, and then they are telling about a friend “Now that I know his motivator is xyz, I can do abc”. And this is very effective, because it tells how they can really use it. Makes them understand it very well. I’ve seen people take notes which doing this.  

I remember in one of my leadership trainings in GE, there was this activity on StrenghFinder (there was a book as well). The book explained well how finding your strengths and using them to your benefit is important. This runs for me on similar lines.

Again, the more I do this and hear stories, I realize how motivators are so important for people, and I see people going beyond the call of duty to really work hard if they are given their motivators. For example I saw one of the guy had acceptance as  a motivator, and people around used to constantly doubt him, post the session we saw people giving him the right acceptance, and showing some level of trust, which made him work harder and it was a win-win situation where the team was happy to see him perform well and he was happy to get the acceptance from the team he wanted.

Would recommend this activity for any team and especially new managers to play with their team, or team plays with themselves too. It makes you open with the team, and the story-telling makes it very powerful.

If you want to learn more about Moving Motivators, you can look at the management 3.0 page here on the same.

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