More motivated teams come from baby steps and not giant leaps.

29th September 2016

Motivated teams arise from the small wins.

The traditional approach for motivated teams centres on, incentives, bonuses and positive feedback. These are mostly geared to results. Research by Professor Teresa Amabile and Steve Kramer (The Progress Principle, 2011) shows recognition of continuing ‘small wins’ increases team motivation and team performance. The emphasis is on key milestones rather than the eventual outcome.

Even small steps forward on meaningful projects meant teams were more creative, productive and engaged with better relationships leading to improved task performance.

The key is to make the project more meaningful to the team in the first place. In other words focussing on the ‘why’ rather than ‘how’ they are going to do it. Involving the team in setting clear goals and objectives increases their sense of autonomy in the decision making process. This is about allowing the team a voice at the start of the process.

Is your team on autopilot, an expedition or a mission?

If the team has no clear purpose it can mindlessly or even dogmatically cling to a route even when there is clear evidence that they will not achieve the desired outcome. That’s when they are on autopilot. Sometimes projects can take longer to find their purpose and focus. In these cases the team need to set off on an expedition and later shift to a focused project mission to work at their best. This is how Amabile summed up the markers of team dysfunction;

the team is under low time pressure with little encouragement and purpose there will be little or no collaboration in teams. The team are on autopilot.

the team is under low time pressure and there is an explanation of the project needs– The team sets off on an expedition and is this associated with high creativity.

the team is under high time pressure with no focus-This is associated with low creativity and burn out.

the team is under a high time pressure and focus- This is associated with meaningful urgency and high creativity. The team is on a mission.

The research is saying what we tell our clients about strategy. You must have a clear objective and an achievable deadline. Too much distance between the leader and the team can lead to stigma and negative perception of the leader. Too close and all the positive reinforcement leads to an overly dependent team and an over stressed leader.

At In The Moment  we work with our clients to help with their individual, business and community needs through an approach of continuing development and good consultancy practice.


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