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If something influenced your moods, decisions and behaviour daily, wouldn't you be curious about it?

It's invisible, it's contagious and it has a huge impact on our society and our economy - and primarily it's a force for good, especially when we understand it. What is it? Motivation. I've been fascinated by motivation for well over a decade - probably more like 15 years, as I sought to understand my team, and what influenced their moods, decisions and behaviour. And I've studied it intensively for the last ten years.

"This is belonging"

You're already more familiar with the power of motivation than you probably think, especially if you've seen the Army's recruitment adverts of 'This is belonging'. Belonging is the Friend motivator, the need to feel involved and included. It's vitally important to us as children (often their top motivator), and it's importance reduces as we enter the workplace, especially if we manage people (where it's emotionally difficult to be friends with the people we manage).

It's a huge subject, as maybe you're starting to see, so let's take a little walk and start exploring it together. And let’s use me as the example, as I'm a fairly open book. I'm motivated by work that's purposeful, where I feel involved and can use my expertise (the pictures give you a visual sense of that). The actual motivators are called Searcher, Friend and Expert.

Now you can name what motivates me, you know the kind of work I love doing. You’ll know these activities energise me, and how to ‘market’ your ideas and projects to me. Whereas activities that don’t involve these motivators will tire me out and bore me; it doesn’t mean I can’t do them – but they will require more energy and be less creative. And I’ll procrastinate because.... ? You've guessed it: I'm not motivated by these activities!

The Impact of Lockdown and Working from Home

More importantly right now during lockdown, you’ll understand how to recharge my batteries, how to lift me up and reenergise me. Of course, we all have to recharge our own batteries – but if you talk about making a difference, being involved, and valuing my knowledge, there will certainly be a spark. You'll also understand why lockdown affects my ability to know if I'm making a difference. i.e. where's the feedback in isolation? Where's the physical sense of connection, and how can I demonstrate my knowledge without an 'audience'? (More on the impact of the Covid-19 crisis later.)

How does Motivation Affect your Creativity?

Conversely, my lowest motivator is Creator. Odd, you may think, for someone who’s so creative. And that’s true. But my creativity comes from the continuous improvement of Searcher (my 1st motivator) and the entrepreneurial nature of Spirit (my 4th motivator). Creator, on the other hand, is about unproven, brand new, novel innovation – which doesn’t motivate me or ‘compute’. I find it almost impossible to start with a blank piece of paper, and need to improve or change something (a starter for 10). My team know this and draft something, which I quickly innovate around. They know this is how my motivation works and, therefore, don’t take offence (in fact I wrote it in the job description and discussed it during the interviews)!

Don't wait too long to ask this key question

When I was a Finance Director, I didn’t understand what motivated my team and therefore struggle to interpret and predict their behaviour. And it’s embarrassing to ask someone you’ve worked with for years, “By the way, I know we’ve worked together for 2 years now – but what motivates you?” That’s why Motivational Maps resonated so deeply with me, and why I’m now one of the top 5 Practitioners globally. (Motivational Maps is an excellent profiling tool for motivation at work, providing the language and data to understand someone's motivators and current motivation in great detail, and a user-friendly report to discuss it.)

Supporting your Teams Mental and Emotional Health

Right now, during the Covid-19 crisis, I’m loving teaching people the language of motivation at work; explaining the psychology behind why people are worried about the uncertainty around their work, potentially feeling excluded and unappreciated. It's one of the ways I can make a difference during this crisis, through our free HR Forum and free Peer 2 Peer Crisis Briefings. When we understand that these Relationship motivators affect ALL of us, to varying degrees, we are better equipped to help others and to talk with them using language which meet these deep emotional needs, and therefore, support their mental health and wellbeing.

P.S. Did you notice how I'm keeping myself motivated here, by making a difference, bringing people together and using my expertise - Searcher, Friend and Expert? When I'm optimally motivated, my resilience, energy and enthusiasm overflows and energises others. That's motivation!


Susannah Brade-Waring is Managing Director of Aspirin Business and Motivated Performance, and a Senior Practitioner of Motivational Maps®. Their clients are ambitious and big-hearted and include Waitrose, Merlin Entertainments as well as coaching and training organisations and HR Managers in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Hungary.

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