motivation

Business transformation is about people, people!

Business transformation is defined as a key executive management initiative that attempts to align People, Process and Technology initiatives of a company more closely with its business strategy and vision to support and help innovate new business strategies. Of this the People part is by far the most difficult and time consuming if its to be done right. It is important to take the time. Fudge the issue and you fudge the outcome.

We all know about “changes of strategy” and “responses to market demand” and “downsizing” and “new company initiatives” and such. We hear them all the time in the workplace and in the media and after years of promises gone awry, sceptics deliver a sigh everytime such terms are used. In reality most initiatives fail to reach even 50% of their target goals, and Mergers for instance fail in over 70% of cases to reach a goal where the combined unit is worth more productively than the two independent units. This is because of the implementation. The plan often does not allocate sufficient time and resources to handle the soft factors which are required to address peoples concerns, motivations and critically does not give the time required to adapt.

What looks great on a spreadsheet is often a nightmare to staff who suddenly are not sure:

  • They have a secure job
  • Who they will work with (their social group)
  • Where they work and where they sit (their place)
  • Whether they will be let do their job
  • Having established a comfort zone that works for them they are now asked to change it and it often is not communicated to them how much. They can be left for months at a time with these stresses hanging over their head. What about motivation?

I have experienced in conversations over coffee that many execs find soft skill learning difficult to pin down. Perhaps its because it needs more than academic understanding? Perhaps its because those good with numbers can be by definition poor with people?  Is it taught well? Or is the theory too new?  Remember it was not so long ago that Taylorism was in vogue. Most of the theories I was taught in College in the late 80?s are invalid now.

My view is that for many Managers and Experts the idea of engaging with people brings them out in a sweat. They prefer the predictability of numbers or technology or knowledge to real engagement and while the predictable part of the change is expertly managed they hope this will be enough to allow them to fudge the people issues. They hope the answer to the ultimate question is indeed 42.

The Emotional Intelligence Leadership Advantage

Life is a comedy for those who think and a tragedy for those who feel.Horatio Walpole (1729)

I remember doing a course at the Irish Management Institute on communication. As I am a problem solving type I was sure and confident of my skills and when I took a test on Empathy I was confident of doing well. I did not do well.

I was of the opinion that people who had personal or emotional problems need to have it fixed and be motivated to either “get on with it” or work to fix the problem – with as much help from me as was required. This however was not empathic – which is defined as one’s ability to recognize, perceive and directly experientially feel the emotion of another. This of course involves listening to and “being there” for someone rather that immediately focusing on the problem. This introduced me to a world of emotion that I had assumed needed to be avoided to make clear logical decisions and make things happen. Clearly I lacked a natural appreciation of Emotion in others and probably myself.

Emotional Intelligence was simply defined by Savoley and Mayer as “the ability to monitor one’s own and other’s feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them … to guide ones own feelings and actions”. They further explain the benefits of Emotional Intelligence thus:

“When people approach life’s tasks with Emotional Intelligence, they should be at an advantage for solving problems adaptively …The sorts of problems people identify and the way they frame them will probably be more related to internal emotional experience than will be the problems addressed by others.”

The take up in popular culture and now business and academic culture of Emotional Intelligence has been driven somewhat by linking Emotional Intelligence to “success” in life and business and to the very popular 1995 Goleman book on Emotional Intelligence in which he questioned the factors that cause people of high IQ to flounder and those of modest IQ to do surprisingly well. Goleman suggested that the difference lies in the abilities called Emotional Intelligence, which include self control, persistence and the ability to motivate oneself.

Higgs and Dulewicz of Henley Management College who I came across during my MBA studies found also that corporate interest appeared to be strongly related to the search for a way of securing a competitive advantage through attention to developing human capital. They also suggest Emotional Intelligence contributes to success noting:  “The roots of the development of the concept of emotional intelligence appear to lie in the apparent inability of traditional measures of “rational thinking” … to predict who will succeed in life.

The idea of relating Emotional Intelligence to success in life also needs qualification re: the nature of “success” (as it obviously means different things to different people) and some for example refer to it at different stages as “life success” “success in their chosen field of endeavour” “success in the organisational context” etc. Goleman’s illustrated this by pointing out that given IQ and technical competences are equal with two individuals one becomes and English professor and the other the Head of the English Department – the difference between the two being the higher Emotional Quotient of the latter.

Emotional Intelligence also plays a key role in leadership and management and Goleman found that Emotional Intelligence plays an increasingly important role at the highest levels of the company, where differences in technical skills are of negligible importance. This correlation is very interesting in the Organisational context and even more interestingly he also found that the higher the rank of a person considered to be a star performer, the more Emotional Intelligence capabilities showed up as the reason for this effectiveness.

The importance of Emotional Intelligence has lead to extensive media coverage and great interest from all walks of life. There is no doubt in my mind that Emotional Intelligence is an important topic for Occupational Psychology, for Human Resource Management and that it has huge potential value for Manager, Leaders and HR professionals and also teachers, educationalists and counselors.

Aidan Higgins

Motivate Yourself First

I recently gave a talk before Cavan County Enterprise Boards recent Awards Dinner on the topic of Motivation, with reference to the current economic climate. The reaction to the talk was extremely positive and also the feedback was particularly interesting.

I told the group that there are times I think when we forget the basics and lose ourselves in worry about things we don’t really need. This leads to suffering on a personal level that is not necessary and totally within our own control. Cutbacks and reductions can have an overly negative effect on us if we do not see that often these are necessary to moving forward. Often we attach meaning to things that causes us grief and worry. The way to address this is to sit down and think about what is really necessary at the end of the day and what of those things we worry about  are supports to our Ego rather than to our well-being and happiness.

Entrepeneurs and Small business owners in particular need to remain motivated and optimistic despite the current travails and to influence and motivate those around them as well. Someone once said “Sincerity is the secret – if you can fake that you can achieve anything!”. Well it can’t be faked, the people around you have a good idea whats going on really. So the feeling of motivation has to be real and come from within. Taking action every morning to bring a positive outlook into play by focusing on the positive things in our life can set the mood for the whole day. And bringing it to work influences those around us particularly small business owners.

The folks from Cavan had an interesting perspective. They reckoned the Celtic tiger hadn’t done much for them and so they didn’t miss it. “We never had too much around here anyway” they said and so we don’t miss it either. And this from as chirpy and cheery bunch of people as I’ve met. You know when you see what some have lost in terms of happiness and clarity in their lives its great to see that some have held on to what matters.

2019-04-10T09:21:37+00:00March 1st, 2012|Discussion, Leadership, Motivation|