by Nikki Owen

The driving force

When people are consciously aware of what is important to them in all aspects of their life, they create a strong electro-magnetic field that attracts attention. The more an individual understands what motivates them personally, the more it enables the person to build personal magnetism.

When we feel motivated, we are able to tap into the fuel that drives our performance. Additionally, motivation gives us reasons to solve problems, overcome difficulties and persevere when the going get tough. Motivation can transform an ordinary performance into an extraordinary performance because, ultimately, if an individual wants to achieve a particular goal badly enough, they will be prepared to do whatever it takes to get it. An individual’s attitude is often a reflection of their inner drive: they know what they need to achieve and why achieving it benefits them. Therefore, a manager who has the ability to ‘ramp up’ their peoples’ drive will generally be the manager who gets better results.

Motivating individuals

The art of motivation is, to put it simply, understanding what is important to each individual. Individuals are motivated by different things, yet these can be generalised into their needs and wants. If their needs aren’t satisfied, then the individual will become de-motivated. If their needs are satisfied, then what they want becomes the driving force.

Every individual is completely unique and consequently has a set of values that are unique to them. These are the fundamental principles and beliefs that are considered worthwhile and desirable by the individual and consequently they hold a lot of emotional intensity.

Many managers make the mistake of trying to motivate their team in the same way or based on what is important to the manager. This approach may work for those people that have similar values to their manager, yet in the main it will fail. The best way to motivate a person is to identify what they value as important, in the context of their careers, and then use this information to motivate and leverage their performance. The following process enables you to discover what is important to each member of your team and is an ideal session to do during a performance review:

  • Prior to discovering a person’s values, ensure that you have built high levels of rapport to encourage open and honest communication. This matters, because a person’s values are very emotive and the individual needs to feel high levels of trust in their manager.
  • Explain why you are going to ask them questions around what’s important to them. This should always include a benefit to them. For example: ‘To ensure that I give you the support needed to achieve your targets, I’d like to ask you a few questions. Are you OK with this?’ or ‘I want to really understand what motivates you so that I can do what I can to keep your motivation levels high. Therefore, are you comfortable with answering some questions?’
  • Ask ‘What’s important to you in your career?’ wait for their answer and write this down, using their exact words. Then ask ‘What else is important to you in your career?’ until you have written down approximately ten to 12 of their values. Never pass judgement on what they tell you because this could cause the individual to clam up. Expect long pauses and never prompt them with your own ideas – everything has to come from them.
  • Then ask the individual to number their values according to their importance. For example: 1 = Most important, 2 = Next important and so on until they have numbered every value. You’ll notice that the order of importance for most individuals is different to the order in which they first tell you their values.
  • Once you’ve completed this step, you then have vital information about what motivates the individual that you can use to help them accomplish different tasks.

If you are working on building your own charisma, you will, of course, need to know what motivates you. If you don’t really know what your driving force is, you are not likely to be building it up and you may be floundering, along with your career – not very charismatic! Use the exercise above to work out your own values.