Are You Making Others Tick or Ticking Them Off?

Are you noticing that what used to motivate you no longer has the same fire? Yet you struggle with naming what has changed in your life so you can reconnect with that lost energy. Plus you’re getting conflicting messages and are not sure whether it is something you have lost or something you have gained that is causing this disconnect.

Does any of this resonate with you?

On one hand, you know that you have become more deliberate and discerning in your life and business, yet on the other hand it is difficult to fathom why something that has fueled your efforts for years seems to have disappeared without warning.

Perhaps you are experiencing:
* Disdain towards a leader you once admired and respected;
* Resentment towards helping a colleague now when previously doing so left you feeling generous and bighearted;
* Ambivalence towards digging through your stash of loyalty cards trying to find the one that entitles you to get 10,000 free points which really only adds up to a few bucks for your effort.

Wouldn’t it be great if when going through a transition you had a Google Alert in your email in box? It would warn you that in 30 days you will be a different person, explains why, and tells you exactly how you will change. Unfortunately, I don’t get these kinds of alerts. Do you?

Perhaps you are experiencing what Daniel Pink calls our ‘third drive’ – our innate need to:
* Direct our own lives;
* To learn and create new things;
* Do better by ourselves and our world.

From Pink’s latest book: Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us: “Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Pink exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does – and how that affects every aspect of life. He demonstrates that while carrots and sticks worked successfully in the twentieth century, that’s precisely the wrong way to motivate people for today’s challenges. In Drive, he examines the three elements of true motivation – autonomy, mastery, and purpose – and offers smart and surprising techniques for putting these into action.”

As individuals, it is important to know what is driving your tendencies. Equally important is to know when your drivers change because it will affect how you measure your actions and the satisfaction you derive from them.

As a leader, motivation has significant effects on you and your people. Self-awareness of your own drivers will affect your ability to inspire others.

Believe it or not management behavior can be a considerable demotivator for the very people you are meant to inspire. Here are four examples of behaviors that will tick off the people who drive your critical projects:

1. Not running interference for the innovator. When innovation is critical to new business directions, there is often resistance from established business units. The innovator is constantly working at gaining alignment for unfamiliar things. As a leader you need to be very active in helping shift others thinking and engage their cooperation. Unless you give your whole hearted support, you risk demoralizing and/or losing key talent.

2. Bad judgment calls. Let’s say you have a highly motivated team that applies best practices and engages in continuous improvement. However, the company is in the midst of key change management initiatives that affect everyone, and you bring in a new hire without consulting stakeholders. Turns out he is a buddy to one of the executives and has minimal experience in project management let alone the functional areas. As a leader, you have reduced your credibility and shown disrespect for your team and critical projects. The only gain for this action is the relationship between the executive and the buddy, and unfortunately the team morale will tank. Momentum will slow down and nothing you can say or do will improve things. Over the next 18 months, the real cost will be seen in lower productivity, turnover, and possibly even termination of the buddy for lack of performance.

3. Thinking what motivates you also motivates the team. There are big gaps in generational differences, expectations, and definitions of personal and professional satisfaction. As a leader you need to get to know your people and what is important to them on a personal level. Unless you set your assumptions aside and show sincere interest in them, you may be creating a wider gap.

4. Not recognizing when an employee has moved into a new phase and stage of life. Such as:

o The parent of a young family who used to put in 12 hour days who now needs/wants to participate in their children’s lives.

o The manager who has remarried and now has outside interests besides work.

o The employee who has recently separated from their spouse and has to set up a second household in order to begin co-parenting responsibilities on a bi-weekly basis.

o The director without siblings who has aging parents that are experiencing health problems and creating new demands which are unpredictable and stressful.

As a leader it is important to realize that people need transition time when personal circumstances change. Many will become more efficient and effective as they shuffle their priorities, but in the early stages they may seem less committed and productive.

All of these leadership behaviors could have been prevented. Since our workplace rebooted in 2008, having an outdated mindset is risky for retaining solid performers, critical talent, and new hires. Investing time in updating your leadership behaviors is essential in order to keep your team motivated and productive.

Judi Walsh is an executive coach to critical talent and management teams. Her discovery driven coaching accelerates development for leaders who want or must lead in new ways. For more of Judi’s ideas on Transforming Leadership visit


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