Tuesday, December 22, 2009

How to make ideas stick . . .

Make ideas
1) visual
2) interactive
3) persistent
-- Tom Wujec

What motivates you?

Photo: Suat Eman http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=151

I recently read a blog (http://runningahospital.blogspot.com/2009/12/on-accountability.html) that stated that organizations should not try to hold people accountable. Instead they should encourage people to hold themselves accountable.

I agree and this is why I promote coaching employees to instill commitment -- committed employees are self-motivated.

The problem is, will 100% of people become self-motivated? Are there some individuals who must be held accountable because regardless of effort spent coaching they will not hold themselves accountable?

If yes, must we hold everyone accountable so that we capture those (few?) who cannot/ will not self-motivate?

If yes, will we reduce the self-motivation of those who either by their nature or through our coaching would have been committed, but because of the external oversight become in fact less committed? I believe the answer to this is yes. Just as studies show that people lose intrinsic desire to do something they used to enjoy when they get paid to do that thing, so will people lose their joy or self-efficacy from a job well done when that job is evaluated and graded.

Your thoughts? Solutions?

It's an age-old question on University campuses -- if we grade, students focus on grades rather than on learning. If we don't grade something, many students don't do it or don't do it thoroughly. Just too busy to be self-motivated in so many spheres of life?

What's the accountability for parenting? What gets people to take the enormous time and energy to teach their children rather than punish all expressions of will? Are we going to get a grade? If so, when will be evaluated? When the child is 20? 30? 50? I hope I get until 50!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Don't define other's character when appreciating (or criticising) part 3

We often leap from experience to label: he doesn't look me in the eye -- he must be shy. She took the time to help me; she's so nice. While it seems nice to say, "you're so nice", the listener can't help but try to match our characterization with her own view of herself.

Share your experience of the other person instead. Give the person a chance to understand how you experienced his actions. Demonstrate what you value about the other person rather than what kind of person you want him to be.

Example: "I appreciate your taking the time to help me, Priya. I know I was a tough student, but your walking me through the steps gave me the confidence to use the software on my own."

Share with the other person what they do that matters to you, rather than define them.

Adapted from The Seven Languages for Transformation: how the way we talk can change the way we work, by Lisa Lahey and Robert Kegan. (c) 2001 Jossey-Bass.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Be specific when showing appreciation (and criticism) Part 2

Be specific: Before expressing appreciation to someone, think about what specifically you appreciate about what they said and did. Doing so will illuminate what you value.

When we are not specific ("you are terrific, Jorge. You really are a team player") the other person defines the appreciation through the lens of his own values. There are many definitions of a team player: someone who helps others when he has down-time or subordinates his goals for those of the team. Perhaps it is someone who supports the team's ideas to the higher ups even when he disagrees with them.

When the boss uses vague praise, Jorge will continue doing whichever behavior he deems demonstrates team playing. Others on the team will chase after their own ideas, always wondering why they are not praised, secretly suspecting that the boss just likes Jorge best.

Use specific language to define the behaviors or outcomes you appreciate so that the other person knows exactly what he did that matters to you.

Example: "Jorge, thanks for supporting the team by traveling to the client site to fix the problems. I know you didn't create those problems and had to put up with a lot of the client's mis-directed anger. You made the team look good and saved our relationship with one of our key clients."

Adapted from: The Seven Languages for Transformation: how the way we talk can change the way we work, by Lisa Lahey and Robert Kegan. (c) 2001 Jossey-Bass.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Be direct when praising (and criticising) -- Part 1

Direct: for a powerful communication, speak directly to the person you appreciate. Yes, it might feel awkward having other people around while you look directly at the person and call him by name. But the recipient of this appreciation will experience himself being valued in a way that is energizing and sincere.

And we all need to know that what we do matters to others.

Example: "Honey, thanks for putting in the extra time to make this special meal."

Think back to last time you showed appreciation; how did you phrase it? Were you direct?

Adapted from the Seven Languages for Transformation: how we talk can change the way we work, by Lisa Lahey and Robert Kegan. (c) 2001 Jossey-Bass

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Do we express appreciation the same way we express criticism?

How do we usually show appreciation -- both at work and to our spouses and children? The same way we show criticism (only less often)? Appreciation is often:
  1. indirect
  2. non-specific
  3. characterizing
Indirect: "Thanks to Mom for all her work on this lovely dinner"
Non-specific: "You are terrific, Jorge. You really are a team player."
Characterizing: "You are so patient and kind, Priya."

While it may feel good to be praised, none of these praising statements will result in increased long-term motivation nor commitment to the praised-for behavior. Mom is an observer, not an active participant in the conversation. Jorge has no idea what his boss appreciates -- perhaps it's his coming into the office on Saturday?. And Priya may believe herself to be neither patient nor kind!

Think back to the last time you showed appreciation to someone else? Can you remember your phrasing?

Adapted from The Seven Languages for Transformation: how the way we talk can change the way we work by Lisa Lahey and Robert Kegan. (c) 2001 Jossey-Bass

image: Simon Howden/FreeDigitalPhotos.net