Two distinct motivational preferences and how to deal with them

You might already be aware that motivation is like ice cream – it comes in more than one flavour. The two that we are interested in are “Towards” and “Away From” motivations.

Negative "Away From" motivations

In order to leverage the motivation of a person who is predominantly “Away From” motivated it is necessary to tell them exactly what will happen if they don’t do what you ask (the stick). For example, “if you DO NOT hit your sales target your wage will be reduced” – this motivates an “Away From” motivated person to avoid the reduction in their wage.

Positive "Towards" motivations

On the other hand, a “Towards” motivated person will respond much better to a positive outcome that will be the result of them achieving what you ask them to do (the carrot). For example, “If you DO hit your sales target, you will receive a bonus” – this motivates a “Towards” motivated person to really go for the bonus.

Achieving a "motivational sundae"

“So”, I hear you ask, “How do I do this in simple, straight forward steps?” and I am glad you ask because getting this wrong will cause you to get ice-cream all down your front and getting it right will make significant improvements to the performance of your entire team, what we might call a motivational sundae.

Motivating individuals

For each person in your team, the first thing to do is find out which way they prefer to be motivated.

Ask each one, individually, “What do you want from your job?” and listen.

Write down their answers. After each answer ask “What else?” Until you have got an exhaustive list.

Next, ensure you are totally clear about whether each of the answers you have got is towards or away from, for example if they say money is important, is that because they think it important to move “Towards” earning lots or is it that they want to earn enough to move “Away From” not being able to pay the rent this month?

Ask further questions if you need to understand more about what the team member means by his or her answer.

You will now have a fairly good idea of how that person is motivated in respect of their work and you can match your communications to what fits best with theirs.

Motivating groups

If you address a group, either verbally or in writing, remember to use both motivational styles in your content so that you capture the best in everyone.

Getting it right...

It is vitally important to remember where on the spectrum of motivational style the person you are dealing with sits; choosing the wrong motivational style, whichever way round, will lead to poor motivation in the individual concerned, and a tasty but messy result all down your shirt.

Getting it right and your team will seem like the best knickerbocker-glory you ever had!

Resulting in action.

This alternative way of moving forward has had a dramatic positive impact on our business.

Damien Bove - Director, Adact Medical

Proven. Measured. Bespoke.

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