Posted 22nd Apr
You may also have noticed a change in the motivation of your family, friends, colleagues and stakeholders.
What worked only a few weeks ago is no longer working – and that’s not just about what motivates us.
The world has radically changed and every aspect of our personal and working lives continues to change daily.
As much as we’d like, we can’t go back to how things were, and instead we need to have awareness of where things are now and where they are headed.
I think there’s a few things going on that will help explain our reactions, and those of our stakeholders.
The two models I’d like to focus on here are attributed to Broadwell, and McClelland.
Broadwell suggested that all tasks are either being undertaken unconsciously or consciously, and we’re either competently or incompetently undertaking them.
Over time of course we can move back down the levels, for example:
The truth of the matter is what took up a lot of conscious awareness when we were learning isn’t even registered now as it’s accomplished competently in the background as an unconscious habit.
And therein lies the challenge at the moment - unconscious habits that we've developed
our competence in over years have been thrown up in the air.
All the daily habits such as how we live as a family, how we shop, how we go for a walk, interact with others, measure two meters, and even wash our hands have been pushed out of our unconscious and into our conscious awareness. For example, a colleague who had previously managed to do a shop and speak with a team member on their phone needed every ounce of their attention to do the supermarket shopping at the weekend. They were having to learn to do it all over again but with new skills of social distancing, hand washing, not touching their face and worrying about who had touched the tinned items on the shelves earlier, all taking up a lot of our bandwidth of their limited conscious mind.
This bandwidth is related to cognitive psychologist George Miller’s magic number of 7 +/-2 stimulus that we can manage at any moment in time.
Is it any wonder then that we’re struggling to be motivated about additional work. ? What was background noise is now jamming the signal and using up all available headspace, energy and every last ounce of motivation.
This suggests one strategy which is not to add so many things to the to-do list.
Pare your to-do list back to the key things to do – the essentials if you will.
The niceties can wait – whether they’re in your objectives or not.
McClelland’s model comes into its own when we look at the language of motivation.
McClelland’s model suggests that what we are each motivated by will fall into one of three areas:
This means for example that category management might be sold differently depending on which of these is of most importance to someone ie:
There is, however, an additional aspect to the McClelland model that I think is key at the moment.
McClelland suggests people are either motivated ‘towards’ what they want, or ‘away from’ what they don’t want. With the above statements very much focusing towards what they will get as a result of undertaking category management.
This means the sales pitches we use would sound very different if we’re telling people what they will be moving away from rather than towards. For example:
In education workshops and coaching sessions, it’s very clear that the majority of procurement professionals prefer to use ‘towards’ language as they want to present future potential benefits. However, for some key stakeholders, and certainly for many others at this time of great upheaval and change, I think stakeholders are more motivated by moving ‘away from’ risks, problems, complaints and other areas of stress.
This is perhaps linked to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and Kubler-Ross’s change curve that means we, our teams and many of our stakeholders are more interested in what is going to be removed, taken away, or stopped NOW rather than hearing about the long- term vision of some unknown future.
This means many of us, our stakeholders included, are wanting to avoid unnecessary, non-essential or complex discussions or decisions. We want to be helped to avoid supply disruption , and non-compliance, helped to avoid and mitigate risks, and have conflict minimised. In other words, all things that will make life feel safer and grounded NOW .
Just at the moment, whilst much of their lives are in lock-down, what many people don’t want to hear about is long-term savings targets, future projects or discussions about 2021.
In summary, if you, your team or your stakeholders are lacking motivation, my recommendations are:
Once life has settled down and we’ve all got a little more headspace and clarity about our personal and organisational medium-term position then we can get back to stretching goals and adding loads more value to organisations. After all, they’re going to need even more of what we have to offer than they ever have before.
Look after yourselves and stay safe.
by Alison Smith