Some facets of motivation are easy to spot – when an otherwise reliable employee starts showing up late, calling in sick, or missing deadlines, the alert manager will know something’s up.
In our workbook this month on ‘Making the most of your 1-2-1s’ we are focussing on how to get the most out of that crucial relationship. Take the following test for each of your direct reports to get a benchmark of where they currently sit on the scale – and the ways you can get them firing on all cylinders once more.
1. Thinking about the organisational goals you’ve set your employee, which of these statements best applies?
- He/she has a clear plan of action for how they’ll achieve their goal, and adapts it as time passes to ensure it’s still relevant.
- He/she is more or less on track to achieve their goals, but I’d like to see a little more thought and planning.
- I get the sense he/she doesn’t pay huge amounts of attention to goals until the period leading up to the performance review.
2. Are you aware of any personal workplace goals your employee has set themselves for the near future?
- He/she has shared with me their career plan and details of the kinds of opportunities they would like to be considered for.
- He/she is highly likely to have personal goals and ambitions but we haven’t really discussed these in a formal way.
- I get the sense he/she doesn’t currently have a clear sense of what they’d like to achieve.
3. Thinking about when major projects or assignments haven’t gone according to plan, which of these statements best sums up your employee’s approach?
- He/she is likely to have a good sense of what went wrong and why, and what he or she would do differently next time around.
- He/she is likely to take constructive feedback on the chin with an ‘onwards and upwards’ mentality.
- He/she sometimes takes knockbacks too personally and can suffer a confidence crisis if things don’t go according to plan.
4. If your employee were asked to deliver a presentation to a new audience, or manage a project slightly outside of their usual skillset, what would their likely reaction be?
- He/she is normally completely comfortable with change and often the first to raise a hand to volunteer.
- He/she might be hesitant at first, but usually gives new challenges their best shot.
- He/she may require a lot of handholding or may easily become stressed in an alien situation.
5. If your employee were given an opportunity to try out a new method of working which did not guarantee a successful outcome, what sort of reaction would you expect?
- He/she would probably weigh up the opportunity and make a calculated decision as to its worthiness.
- He/she should would proceed with caution and want to be as sure as possible of a successful outcome before venturing further.
- He/she would probably stick with the tried and tested method of working unless there was an absolute guarantee of success.
6. Which of the following best describes your employee’s reaction to receiving constructive criticism?
- He/she asks a lot of questions around the feedback and generally seems to welcome the opportunity to learn something new about themselves.
- He/she usually accepts the feedback, though it’s not always clear to see how they’ve put it into action.
- He/she doesn’t respond well, feeling unfairly criticised and not entirely open to learning a lesson.
7. When it comes to networking, which of the following statements most accurately describes your employee?
- He/she networks far and wide and appears to have a trusted circle to turn to for help in all sorts of circumstances.
- His/her network is likely to be largely made up of internal delegates with whom he/she has good working relationships.
- I’m not sure if he/she has a robust professional network just yet, or how open he/she is to building this up.
8. If a stretch assignment came along which was right up your employee’s street in terms of their interests and future ambitions, which of the following statements would best apply?
- He/she would have already identified the opportunity and put forward a compelling case for why it should be awarded them.
- He/she would welcome the opportunity but might need a little encouragement.
- He/she might need some convincing that this opportunity would be good for them, and may try to back out if things don’t go well.
9. When things get genuinely stressful at work, your employee is most likely to…
- Draw up a plan, call on the advice of others and stay as positive as possible.
- Get a little worried but generally keep a “can do” attitude.
- Suffer from some anxiety and feel a little out of his/her depth.
10. Thinking about a colleague your employee finds difficult, or is perhaps even fearful of liaising with, which of these approaches are they most likely to take?
- Work closely with the difficult colleague in order to establish common ground or find a better way of dealing with the situation.
- Try to make the best of limited interactions.
- Keep interactions to an absolute minimum and focus instead of building closer alliances with those he/she already gets on well with.
You’re probably already aware that this particular employee sits high on the motivation scale. They’re likely to be strong and realistic goal setters and measured risk takers, who welcome useful feedback, opportunities to learn and build their skillsets. Look back over any questions where they didn’t score ‘A’ to identify which of the pillars of motivation they might be falling behind on. If that’s goal setting, ask yourself whether that’s because they haven’t set goals, or they simply haven’t shared these with you. An action point for you might be to get better acquainted with their long term career vision and the role you could play – perhaps becoming a mentor alongside your management responsibilities, introducing them to connections who can open doors for them, or keeping an ear out for the kind of opportunities they’d welcome. You might want to encourage them to take the Career planning workbook and share the results with you.
While self-motivation isn’t a major issue for this employee, he or she could do with a boost in some areas. Look back over the questions and try to identify which of the five pillars of motivation they need most help with (goal setting, risk taking, learning from others, seizing opportunities and developing resilience). Depending on the answer, your actions might include:
Goal setting: Hold an open dialogue around their future ambitions, designed to get them thinking about the sorts of things they can be doing now to aid their long term ambition. See the Career planning workbook.
Risk taking: Shine a light on any areas of performance that indicate they’re stuck in the comfort zone, and building a plan to broaden their horizons in a safe and manageable way. See the Risk taking workbook.
Seizing opportunities: By setting some personal goals and stepping outside their comfort zones, your employee may become more adept at raising their hands. See the Stepping up workbook.
Developing resilience: Help your employee better manage their stress levels by discussing the types of support they need and in what specific situations. See the Resilience workbook.
You’re probably already aware that your employee isn’t firing on all cylinders right now. It might be time for a little detective work on your part. Consider holding an informal conversation about your employee’s career aspirations, framed around how you can help them achieve their ambitions. You might discover that they have plenty of goals and that they simply need help turning them into plans and finding the right support to do so. Perhaps they are short on developmental feedback, are struggling to see the opportunities that might exist for them, lacking in confidence or the know-how to build a network, or grappling to overcome a prior setback – in which case you have some clear action points for getting stuck in and helping out.