Out of whack: where are you on the alignment scale?

Positive mini-swirlI was recently having my bod cunningly realigned by my Mctimoney practitioner and it got me thinking about the nature of misalignment in some of the organizations I coach in.

A few days later I revisited an article by Daniel Golman on motivation, what he calls the shared trait of effective leaders. Motivation, in his view, goes beyond an external focus on status and high remuneration into an internal passion for what leaders do and their focus on performance.

... circling the drain?

… circling the drain?

It made me reflect about some of the wonderful people I work with, people who are normally very effective but nevertheless have an all-to-human capacity to occasionally fall off the wagon or backslide into un-resourceful behaviours. This can happen to the very best of us when the stuffing’s knocked out of us – for both personal and professional reasons – leading to an overall loss of confidence, focus and motivation.

Using motivational map technology in my coaching practice gives me wonderful insights into the variety of human motivations and the subtle effects these have on coachees’ performance and drive. Part of my job is to help the already highly motivated (and often ambitious) individuals maintain their already high scores (80+), or at the other end of the scale, to prevent lower scoring (60) but previously highly competent people from falling further into the abyss.

We all have our own individual definitions of success. It’s the same for the organization within which we work, so it makes good sense for leaders and managers to recognise that this is indeed a reciprocal relationship – that both sides of the success equation needs satisfying – ie organisational strategy and individual employee needs.

The truth is that this rarely happens. Organisational definitions of success often rub up against an individual’s criteria for success – creating an unspoken clash of culture and expectations. This is especially true during times of rapid change or retrenchment, as widely experienced during the long years since the credit crunch kicked off the global recession.

It follows that as the owners and drivers of strategic change, the board and senior managers are much more aligned with organizational definitions of success. That is to say that their own personal definitions of success align with those of the organisation strategy.

It is also true that the appetite for the speed of change is much stronger in these senior folks than among those lower down the organization staff who may well have a different view as to what success means to them. Lower down the organisational ‘food chain’ individuals will also likely have a different set of operating motivators, those powerful drivers that require satisfying if engagement and productivity is to be maximised.

... we all have a range of POWERFUL motivators

… we all have a range of POWERFUL motivators

A not untypical scenario would be a senior leader having SEARCHER, DIRECTOR, and CREATOR as their top 3 motivators, working with staff who are more likely to share DEFENDER, STAR and FRIEND as their main motivators.

Once a senior leader undertakes their own Motivational Map assessment not only are they much more aware of their own top 3 motivators (as well as their least favoured ones), but they start to understand the drivers in the individuals around them. This enables them to become much more aware of the differences and of the tactics required to maximise employee engagement and develop more effective communications.

At a Motivational Map conference I attended last year, the work of Blessing White was cited as a stark example of why getting our teams and organisations more aligned was so important.

  1. Only 1/3 of us are in ‘The Engaged’ group, the rest of us are:
  2. The Almost Engaged, not fully satisfied or organisationally effective.
  3. The Honeymooners and Hamsters, new hires / newly promoted, and the busy-busy wheel spinners lacking in focus and impact.
  4. The Crash & Burners, hardworking often exhausted folks who think they are indispensible but who get little satisfaction and are often highly critical of the organisation.
  5. The Disengaged and overlooked, the ‘turn up and tune out’ brigade, where life’s hardly worth living and who often fantasise about leaving / retiring.

So a function of a more engaged and productive workplace might look like this:

Improved understanding of Success Criteria + Motivational Drivers x a Plan of Action

... 'one life'

… ‘one life’

But why bother? A bit like my misaligned bod, I get along fine most of the time but can’t cope so well with a more demanding (and enjoyable) lifestyle like riding, gardening, and walking. I really want to optimize the remaining bit of my ‘wild and precious life’ by being as effective and fulfilled as possible.

Don’t you?

You might want to get in touch if this rings a bell, or you may just want to glance at these useful (if hefty) development resources over coffee and cake.



This entry was posted in Communication, Critical Thinking Skills, Motivation and Employee Engagement, Personal & Professional Effectiveness and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply