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A Great Way to Influence Motivation in 2020

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How do you motivate team members in the wake of COVID-19, with social distancing and isolation from team members? Workplace motivation feels different today than it has in past decades. Previously, we would attempt to simplify employee motivation, by offering competitive pay, giving pats on the backs, and investing in development opportunities for our teams. However, simply stated, that will not cut it. Our lifestyles, experiences and economic and societal influences have evolved. And this is not limited to certain groups of individuals. People need much more than a paycheck as there are hygiene needs (not literally physical hygiene). These are psychological and physiological elements related to your team’s hygiene factors, given that people join teams with differing beliefs and life experiences. While there are a number of circumstances, actions and dynamics that influence employee motivation, acknowledgement is super important for team members today,

Have you ever heard the term, “be present”? Well, this statement has a number of meanings, but we expect our teams to be present at work at all times. So, acknowledge them when they are present. It’s very difficult to be present in socially divided environments. This limits the team’s and the leader’s ability to be present, so we have to find ways to fill in the gaps. Technology like Zoom, Google Meets, GoToMeeting, Cisco and other video conferencing tools, have helped organizations improve their communication across the organization, and reach people across the globe easily. And while COVID-19 has helped us become more connected, at the same time, we are still so distant. One action that we have lost, is the ability to quickly meet with our teams, informally check-in, and have regularly touchpoints throughout the day or week with our teams when we shared a common location. So, the art of managing amidst COVID-19 will feel different. And acknowledgment is one critical element. Remember, that calling, texting, emailing, and video chatting is necessary, but consider your team. Understand their style/preference of communicating to prevent fatiguing the team with these same channels of communication. Acknowledgement also means responding back. It does not feel good to reach out to someone, only to never receive a response back or to be ignored regarding a matter. Equally important is that acknowledgement in the workplace must be reciprocated.

3 Reasons Why Teams Become Disengaged

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Work-related engagement is a positive affective motivational state of mind. This reaction is influenced by other motivational factors, which can also be associated with psychological and physiological needs. However, companies can solve for the psychological considerations of engagement from the context of belonging. While not all inclusive, the following are 3 fundamental reasons teams become disengaged.

1. The team member’s mindset. Because people join teams with different personal and professional experiences, cultural lifestyles, personalities, and other unique qualities, it creates a challenge for leaders to motivate and engage, absent of understanding these differences. What may motivate one team member may be completely demotivating for another. And what may inspire and create excitement for team member A, may result in the exact opposite for team member B. Whether you understand your teams, interests, responsibilities, passion and triggers, the reality is that their attitude and mentality will be a predictor of their internal wires that invoke motivation, followed by alignment and connection with their team and their leaders.

2. Interpersonal connections between the employee and their leader. Respect, acknowledgement, responsiveness, recognition, values, preferential treatment, and appropriate relationships are among a compounding list of implications that lead to engaged and disengaged employees. When leaders are disregarding, demeaning and overly use condescending communication with team members, it may strike action, but it is demotivating and empties your team’s bucket. The result can be ornery behavior, with limited effort given to the task or role altogether. Failing to provide clear directions, or any direction creates a strike against interpersonal relationships. While agile work environment is prevalent in many organizational settings, constantly changing practices, that are not consistent with the stated vision and objectives, or other significant directives, creates a strike against interpersonal relationships.

3. Lack of structure and workplace organization. In a balanced work environment teams maintains a consistent level of inputs and outputs, which creates an environment where individuals can quickly identify their ability to be successful. This subsequently results in work engagement, promoted company’s values are supported – inspiring employee allegiance. Contrary to the existence of a balanced work environment, is an unbalanced one, which can appear unorganized, chaotic, fragmented, and unstructured. When this is visible whether physically or structurally in process design and order, the perception created – results in disengagement. While not apparently evident, staffing shortages that result in failed processes and points of friction is another structure and organization issue that immediately kills employee engagement.

Engagement results in an emotional connection and a passion for one’s job, their leader, their team and then the organization, when fundamental factors are aligned.

Check out the book to decode this equation.
The employee engagement equation (ee en/eq): ([lv&v + cg&o = sv], [sv + rcv&e = a], [a + eelv&s = tmm], [tmm + c&hwe = ee/en])

What is Emotional intelligence – Why is it Important Today?

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Emotional intelligence is the process and awareness of understanding your own emotions and those of others, in addition to ones’ ability to regulate their own and other individual’s emotional responses. It influences your decision-making while being aware of the emotional reactions of yourself and those you are interacting and communicating with.

Emotionally intelligent individuals – know what to say and how to deliver the message based on their audience and the environment. It is not speaking your mind or allowing loose words to leave your lips. The best analogy is – using a verbal filter. You wouldn’t have coffee grinds with your coffee, so you use a filter to limit the consumption of oily diterpene substances to prevent long-term health issues. Similarly, is the case with your team; the absence of using appropriate filters will create long-term motivation and engagement issues. People who “shoot from the hip” and “tell it like it is” are indeed signaling negative impressions and invoking frustration, anger, and bitterness, commonly directed toward the individual delivering the message.

Teams with leaders who lack EQ are short-lived in terms of their tenure and commitment to the organization, and in some cases, more severe actions are taken. When you can effectively assess your audience while being socially and environmentally aware while delivering your message accordingly, it has a greater reach for the receivers, and it is more positively accepted. This is not to say that sugar-coating is necessary because EQ is not sugar-coating, but it’s also not “keeping it real.” It is, however, leveraging reality and honestly delivering a message that others can positively accept while inspiring action.

Emotionally intelligent people are conscious of theirs and others’ emotional states, can effectively manage the communication landscape resulting in the best short-term and long-term outcomes. Leaders are who are emotionally intelligent or who exercise EQ have more engaged teams who are willing to follow them wherever they go in their endeavors. Additionally, team-members who can exercise EQ are more cohesive and innovative.

Action that leads to frustrated outcomes are temporary and will not be sustained over time. And action does not equal success. However, inspired action leads to success, retention, and the sustainment of quality outcomes that will be repeated over time by committed team members.

Leadership Development – An Action Learning Approach

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From a leadership development standpoint, providing leaders with mentors, action-oriented learning, 360-degree feedback, a combination of traditional and virtual education, and the opportunity to be successful are attributes of a practical leadership development plan. Development models designed to incorporate these factors inspire organizational pride. Those who undergo effectively inclusive programs feel that their organization is willing to invest in their success as a leader. “Action learning is an educational process where people work and learn together by tackling real issues and through reflection” (Walia & Marks-Maran, 2014). Contrary to its intended purpose, action learning appears to be most practically used by many large organizations as an effective training method. However, the action learning model is often perceived more as a “learn by fire” approach than formally developed programs (i.e., classroom style as a primary method).

When newly hired and promoted individuals transition into their new role where programs are not in place, often, the newbie perceives there are limited resources made available to aid in their development and their success. And while new leaders will exhibit some excitement and drive, they will experience diminished levels of engagement. Conversely, leadership development must be a continuous and systemic process. The program design must be inclusive and include action plans and scheduled touchpoints that will expand the individuals’, the team, and the organizations’ capacities (Dugan, 2011) and in many cases, “scale” in support of achieving the team’s targets and the organization’s shared goals.

The application of an action learning approach, when coupled with action planning and follow-up – evokes engagement. And according to Walia & Marks-Maran (2014), individuals who go through the action learning model experience greater levels of motivation and overall support. Besides, adopting an action learning approach towards leadership development will result in leadership commitment, value contribution, and learning retention – further expanding the leader’s skills, talent, attitude, knowledge, and experiences that can be quickly applied.

Dugan, J. P. (2011). Pervasive myths in leadership development: Unpacking constraints on leadership learning. Journal Of Leadership Studies, 5(2), 79-84.

Walia, S., & Marks-Maran, D. (2014). Leadership development through action learning sets An evaluation study. Nurse Education in Practice, 14(6), 612-619.