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The easy way to motivate your team

The easy way to motivate your team

Nicola Hopes

6 February 2024

How many times have you used the phrase – “Well, it depends how you look at it?”

And was it just a platitude to shut down a disagreeable point? Or did you mean it?

I really hope you meant it. Because it’s true.

Perspective is everything.

There’s been an accepted paradigm for over 10 years following the book ‘Engineering Happiness’ by the economists Baucells and Sarin that:

Happiness = Reality minus Expectations

Put simply, when expectations aren’t met, happiness is dented.

The equation is so well used that it’s often mis-attributed. One article I read credited it to Elon Musk… and if anyone knows about happiness, surely it’s him [wry smile].

But we don’t use this concept when we set goals for ourselves and our teams. And I’ve learned in many years working with individuals and teams on their motivations and commitment that you could substitute ‘Happiness’ in that equation with ‘Perceived success’ and the equation would still be true.

If your team shoot for 12 and get 10, they’re gutted. If they shoot for 9 and get 10, they’re delighted. And their resilience, motivation and commitment follow.

Now don’t treat this revelation as an excuse to low ball your goal setting. If I see a team objective that states ‘wake up and clean your teeth everyday’, I’ll raise the Nic-brow (not an experience to be trifled with).

But it is an invitation to be more focussed about targets.

Big goals can come in stages

Now, I can feel you screaming at your screen right now ‘But what about stretching targets?’ and ‘What about raising the bar?’

Well, you can do both of those things. But do it in stages.

1. Have an inspirational vision that everybody is excited by
2. Break down the big goals to deliver that vision into shorter term targets – which the brain finds easier to process any way
3. Then raise or add subsequent targets as hurdles are cleared

Win #1 – you get to continually uplift performance
Win #2 – the team get a boost to their motivation, commitment and ultimately, their happiness

What’s not to like?

So, tell me. How do you want to manage your team goals for 2024?

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