Sunday, April 26, 2009

Matching Motivations

One of the most widely know axioms around motivation is “you cannot motivate people, they motivate themselves”. Most of the times that I have heard that spoken its been followed with a shrug of the shoulders as if to say, “So what can you do?”.

I came upon this once when working with a small business that provided professional services to their clients. Most of the work was delivered on a consulting basis and that generally meant they were paid by the hour. The GM of the business was keenly aware that the business existed around the simple maths that the salary out-goings couldn’t exceed the billable hours. Like most consultancies they recognised that there were non billable situations where the team was working on the business itself or in pitches to get new work. The team completed time-sheets on a weekly basis, allocating their working hours to specific projects or to non-billable time.

I noticed that the GM was routinely frustrated at time-sheet time and it was never a good time to talk to them. One day I asked about that to see what was going on. The GM told me that one member of the team was always late with their time-sheet, made lots of excuses for not doing it and when the time-sheet arrived the non-billable hours was always excessive. The GM knew that this person performed well with clients and built good relationships and really worked hard for the clients whose portfolios she maintained. At the end of the download the GM said, “She doesn't seem motivated to get what this business is about, she might have to go!”.

So how can that happen? A capable individual that should be an asset to the business and a boss who has begun to think they aren't motivated and thinking of letting them go! Seems a waste doesn't it, but how often have you been in that situation? I’ve met it many times.

I volunteered to have a chat with the employee about her job and how she was finding it. What I found was a highly committed woman, who loved her work and loved her clients. She really liked helping them and doing things for them. No lack of motivation at all. But she was beginning to sense an issue with the boss and that was making her wonder if she “was working in the right place” So not only did we have a boss thinking about cutting an employee loose, but the employee was thinking of going. It was just a matter of time to see who acted first. Looked like a self fulfilling prophesy about to come true! In either case reputations would be damaged in the marketplace, and neither was going to enjoy the experience.

I sensed that I was facing a motivational disconnect. I was pretty sure that neither were talking to each other and that it was all being built up their heads as the only conversation was with their self-talk. I asked if I could facilitate a discussion between them and as I wanted them to get a better understanding of themselves as well as each other I used a simple tool that I use in our “your attitude is showing” workshop to give a platform for that discussion. Without it in the middle I would have an “he-said, she said” type conversation.

Sure enough the employee was focused on ‘making the world a better place for other people’ (social) and not that interested in money (utilitarian). In fact when I talked through the information with her so that she understood herself better and why the boss was having difficulty she admitted that she had real difficulty ‘charging’ hours to her clients as it ‘seemed wrong’ to do so when all she was doing was ‘helping them’. What we had was a highly utilitarian motivation (the boss) facing a social motivation (the employee).

She wasn’t ‘not motivated’ just motivated differently. Once the boss understood this the solution became easy. The boss changed her time-sheet so that it recorded hours helping clients and hours helping the boss and made no mention of money, rates, charge-outs and all the other necessary things that the business needed to make money. The boss left that part to her accounts team.

Why did the boss manage the outcome that way? Why didn’t the boss explain to the employee why she had to do it the way the company wanted? The boss understood that she couldn’t motivate the employee but she could provide the environment for the employee to motivate herself. That is the job of a leader after all.

So if you find yourself thinking that someone isn’t motivated and yet they seem to have the capability then it might be that you are not matching your requests to their motivation.

p.s if any of my subscribers would like to understand their workplace motivation just click here and then when you jump to my web-site page just click on the complimentary profile link (near the bottom). I will run that profile for you just as I did for that boss. Consider it a gift of knowledge. Self-knowledge (the kind a leader needs)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Negotiating to what?

A client recently asked me for ideas on negotiating to win. My thoughts turned to this clients natural style and the strengths & also challenges that this would bring her in a negotiating situation. The client is a high I in DISC terms and if you’ve been on our dynamic communication programme you will know that high I’s tend to influence through charm, charisma and persuasion. But I’s don't tend to do detail and I thought “how do I talk to her about one of the keys to negotiation?

I like to tell stories and share real examples so I was going to tell her about another client of mine and her recent success in contract negotiation. That client is a D/C in DISC terms and her high drive is coupled with a high need to get things right. So she is really big on preparation, putting a lot of time in to it to make sure she has all the facts, knows all the data and really understands the levers to pull (and when I say all I do mean all). She had to go in to a negotiation with a client who had been a little difficult the year before (a combination of sexism, power games and some rudeness thrown in; I am sure you’ve met the type). This year she dealt with all that by knowing exactly what she wanted from the negotiation and what she wasn’t prepared to negotiate on. She fully analysed the contract, the clients needs and past requirements and had all the facts and data at her fingertips. Needless to say, she got everything she wanted and there was no room for any games because of all her prep.

But before I launched in to this tale, I realised that my client had used words that you don't seem to hear so often any more; “Negotiate to win”. Over the last decade or so we have got used to the concept of “win-win” so much that I wonder if it affects how sales people think before they go in to a sale. Do we bother too much about ensuring that the customer wins that we sometimes dilute our win?

Let me say now that I am a firm believer that if you want a long term relationship with a customer you cant have a win-lose or win at all costs mindset. The term relationship implies mutuality and you cant have that if anyone loses. So if your market is relationship based then win-win is a necessity. But does this mean you have to go in to sale to give the customer a win? How do you know what a win is for your client before you go in to the negotiation? If this is your first meet or you’ve not exchanged much information beforehand or spent a lot of non negotiating time with client to get to know what drives them, then you wont know until you get there. If you are in a wholesale commodity market and volume is king then you are unlikely to have all that information to hand (unless the previous sales-person kept notes!)

So if you cant know what the client wants as a win, then there is only one side of the equation that you will know and that’s yours.

So do you spend time being sure of what a win means for you and your business? After all not all sales are good sales! Are you a margin driven or volume driven business? Where are your breakpoints and advantages in your supply chain? Do you reward your sales people the right way to match the levers in the business? Do you give them enough slack to conduct a negotiation the way your customers will be looking for?

So we come back round to where I started. To good old fashioned prep. Do you know what you want from the sale? What would constitute a win for you? What do you have to negotiate with? Know your facts! and then the bits that I think really give the sales-person their advantage. Do you know yourself? Your style; your behaviours and your motivation? so that you can manage yourself in the sale. Can you sell to your customers style so you know how to maximise your chances of a winning sale?

Maybe I should give my High I client a call and tell her that story after all!

p.s I look forward to comments from my sales focused clients. What would you add to these thoughts? Lets grow this topic!