A Teamwork Strategy Few People Mention

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The last article we shared had a focus on teams and specifically how you might consider developing yours into the cohesive and productive unit that everyone craves.

A powerful team building technique that many people seem to bypass is to understand what makes people tick. Whilst you might sit in disbelief at a team members different behaviour there is generally a reason for it; often linked to what they personally consider important.

In other words their motives. In plain English motivation is about what moves us to do something, according to a well-known paper by Richard Ryan and Edward Deci on motivation.

You may be self-motivated, diligent, keen, enthusiastic and happy with the role you have in your organisation. You enjoy being exceptional at every task you are given and want to impress your colleagues and your boss.

You make your way home in the evening knowing you have done a good days work and have been pleasant to everyone with no boats rocked or bad words uttered. All is well in your world.

But what about your other team members? The ones you have to work with every day. What switches them on? If you could find that key, life would become even better and teamwork might just improve.

Understanding others motives is imperative in any team working environment. As human beings we are motivated to avoid pain and move towards pleasure. In addition your team members' motivations may be as diverse as:


• money
• prestige
• need to be in control
• need to be loved
• need to be thought well of
• need to provide for their family

Quite a mixed bag that you will need to be aware of. Having key objectives for the team that must be achieved is one thing that creates action. However longer term, great managers unconsciously know which motivational buttons to press when it comes to moving their team into action.

A common example is using money as a motivator. Money in itself is not the prize, however what money enables people to do is the key point. The manager that is able to point this out to their team will generally win the day. For example, if Jane is less than enthusiastic about the latest bonus on offer, helping her appreciate that it will arrive in time to pay for a great family day out or cushion the blow of the next round of school fees could be the starter button you are looking for.

Have a look around your office now and think about what others motivations are. They aren’t  always easy to spot and there is a question you can ask that will reveal the answer.

Next time you are in conversation with one of the team ask them what is important to them about their; job, working in the team, the organisation etc. The answers they give will be the true ones.

Directly asking someone what motivates them is viewed with suspicion by many people. With an assumption being made that there is a hidden ‘motive’ in the question and that there is a right and a wrong answer. Instead ask the question about, what is important and you might be surprised at the answer. The choice is then yours in what you do next.

Till next time,

Isobel