Why a bit of ‘warm & fuzzy’ is important for motivating teams

How to motivate people has been a topic of conversation which has come up several times for me over the last couple of weeks.

Previously, I have written about the principles of autonomy, mastery, purpose which Dan Pink promotes in his book ‘Drive’. The theory set out in the book is one I believe in strongly but talking about it with others has made me realise that there is a further aspect that needs to be considered.

I’ve also written before about the value and importance of the ‘cuddle’ hormone oxytocin and I think there is something important here that helps to motivate people to come to work and give their best.

It’s a complex environment we are working in today and technology has sped up the pace of change. News is instant and we are expected to be able to respond and change direction very quickly. Certainly, working with lots of small charities, I see leaders and staff delivering in tough conditions, trying to push on forward despite high levels of uncertainty.

It takes a lot of resilience to keep going under these circumstances and I think that there is some ‘warm fuzzy stuff’ that leaders can easily implement which helps to keep people motivated.

Recognition – firstly, when people work hard, they want to be recognised for their efforts. This doesn’t have to take the form of big awards but just something to show that they have been noticed, whether that is an individual or the whole team, sometimes both probably, just let them know they have been seen.
Appreciation – say thank you! In whatever form you are most comfortable with and preferably often. A common view seems to be that work is transactional i.e. people come to work, do the job and get paid which should be thanks enough. It isn’t enough though if you want a motivated, high performing team. For that, you need to give a bit more which means saying and doing things that make people feel appreciated.

Celebration – celebrate often, let staff enjoy being at work and feel good about what they have achieved. Far too often, we finish one thing and move straight on to another with no looking back. If your team works hard and delivers success, encourage them to take time out to reflect and celebrate their achievements however small.

Whilst I believe these things are important all year round, I also think that Christmas is a point in the calendar where we should take a moment to reflect on what’s gone well, thank people for their contribution and celebrate the achievements of the year gone by.  So this year, why don’t you think about how you use these ideas to ensure you have an empowered and motivated team for 2020.

 

Like this article? Have your own experience to share? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

 

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(Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay)

A hit of dopamine and sprinkling of oxytocin

Something that stood out for me when reading Simon Sinek’s ‘Leaders Eat Last’ was the section on chemicals in the body. In my previous organisation, my team was fortunate to be offered lots of fantastic opportunities which I encouraged them to take. This often pushed them out of their comfort zones, creating powerful feelings of challenge and achievement.

We had also introduced new organisational values at that time which encouraged ambition and, I felt, self-service. Whilst family and togetherness was the essence of one of the values, the others were in danger of encouraging competition amongst the team and whilst I want my teams to be driven, in this situation it felt like the balance was in danger of tipping in the wrong direction.

As I read the book, I realised that my team were high on dopamine and endorphins most of the time which feels great when you’re up but have a tendency to throw you down after the initial surge and make you want to chase the buzz these chemicals provide.

The opportunities in my area of work were amazing and we were all pleased to be able to enjoy this aspect but I did often feel exhausted by the highs and lows I experienced. The book also describes these chemicals as ‘selfish chemicals’ which push us to make progress but sometimes at the expense of others.

Sinek describes another two chemicals – serotonin and oxytocin – which are ‘selfless chemicals’. These chemicals encourage the strengthening of social bonds, foster connection and allow us to work together. I realised we needed more of these and I started to think of ways to introduce them.

My solution took the form of awards which provided recognition to those who went the extra mile. Not just in their work but in what they did for others. Achieving in this space provided the warm, fuzzy feeling we had been lacking, encouraging appreciation of each other and making people want to give back so others could share the love.

This idea operated on two levels – one for my team on a monthly basis and one for the organisation as part of our annual conference. The awards allowed colleagues to say thank you to each other for doing something nice which took the focus away from business results just for a moment. They rewarded the personal achievements like resilience, team work and being supportive.

It made the difference we needed. I didn’t put an end to the highs and who would want to? A dopamine rush is pretty amazing! But it did mean there was a little bit more of the cuddle drug flying around to create a sense of harmony.

Click here for a summary of Simon Sinek’s ‘Leaders Eat Last’.

Click here to watch Sinek explain the concept in person.

Or buy the book here: Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t

3minuteleadership.org

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