Posts Tagged millennials
Two new articles by motivation expert Susan Fowler point to some of the challenges leaders face in trying to create an engaging and motivating work environment for team members. The two big challenges? Weaning yourself and others off suboptimal motivators—which Fowler labels as “junk food” motivation—and focusing instead on six best practices that support autonomy, relatedness and competence.
In The Science Behind Why You Don’t Feel Motivated, Fowler shares that people bring different motivational outlooks to the projects they face at work. Three of these outlooks are suboptimal—disinterested, imposed, and external. Fowler asks readers to consider a couple of questions to identify if they might be exhibiting signs of one of these three outlooks. Ask yourself, Am I…
- Unable to find value or meaning in the project?
- Feeling imposed? Is there someone pressuring me to get this done? Am I pressuring myself?
- Feeling resentful?
- Fearful of what might happen if I don’t do it? Am I concerned about disappointing someone else—or myself?
- Doing the work in an effort to avoid guilt or shame?
- Doing the work for the money?
- Doing the work with hopes of gaining favor, power or status in the eyes of others?
- Am I taking this on to impress someone else?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, your motivation is suboptimal explains Fowler.
“Suboptimal motivation is like junk food. Think about what happens when you are low on energy and go for the quick fix—a candy bar, an order of fries, a caffeinated drink. Your blood sugar spikes and then you crash. That doughnut tasted really good going down, but it didn’t do your body any good—especially in the long term. When your motivation is based on disinterest, external rewards (tangible and intangible), or feeling imposed, you will simply not have the energy, vitality or sense of well-being required to achieve your goals.”
To move in a better direction Fowler suggests a different approach. In an article on What to Do When Rewards and Incentives Don’t Work Fowler recommends looking at three basic human needs and three ways to rediscover your own personal motivation.
As she explains, “The best motivation comes from three basic psychological needs: autonomy, relatedness and competence, or ARC. When psychological needs are satisfied, people flourish. When these needs are undermined, people languish.”
You can wean yourself—and others—off carrots and sticks by adopting six motivation best practices that support autonomy, relatedness and competence. Here are Fowler’s recommendations:
Encourage autonomy. Frame deadlines as useful information critical for achieving important goals rather than sticks for applying pressure.
Deepen relatedness. Reframe metrics that have no emotional meaning. Conduct motivational outlook conversations with employees to help them attribute their own sense of meaning to critical organizational goals and outcomes. You cannot impose your values or feelings on others, but you can guide their exploration of values and sense of purpose they find compelling.
Develop people’s competence. Focus on setting learning goals, not just output goals. Shift your focus from accomplishment to building competence. Instead of just asking, “What did you get done today?” try asking, “What did you learn today?”
Promote mindfulness. Prompt awareness of options a person may not have considered. Ask questions such as “Why is this important to you (or not)?” and “Why are you finding this goal so challenging (or rewarding)?” These simple yet powerful, open-ended questions help individuals rise above patterns of behavior that often sabotage their best intentions.
Align with values. Conduct a values conversation with individuals you lead. They may have succumbed to suboptimal motivation based on money, rewards, incentives, power, status, fear, pressure, guilt or shame because they have not consciously or deliberately aligned their work to meaningful values that generate sustained positive energy, vitality and sense of well-being.
Connect to purpose. Your organization has probably spent enormous resources crafting and socializing its vision, purpose and mission. Now help individuals do the same. Encourage the people you lead to develop their own workplace purpose statements. There are few things in life more powerful than acting from a noble purpose.
As Fowler encourages, “The more mindful you are, the more opportunity you have to shift to an optimal motivational outlook. Motivation is a skill. You can learn to experience high-quality motivation any time and any place you choose.”
You can read more on Susan Fowler’s approach to motivation at SUCCESS online.
With approximately half the federal workforce nearing retirement age, government agencies are faced with the challenge of determining how to transition knowledge and determine the next generation of leaders. This exercise in organization transition presents a particularly acute problem given a recent Washington Post report that the number of employees under the age of 30 working for the federal government is at the lowest level since 2005. This means that the future leadership of our federal government workforce is just 6.6 percent of the total federal workforce, which is down from 9.1 percent in 2010. In raw numbers, this equals a drop of 45,000 individuals over five years. If even a portion of those lost to public service represent high potential leaders, this is an impactful brain drain. So, what is causing this exodus and what can be done about it?
Recognition. Leaders sometimes fall into the trap of managing projects at the expense of people. I was reminded about this recently while talking to a young woman. In short, she told me she never receives management recognition for the good work she performs—teaching computer skills to people who are resistant to technological change. She sees her job as a daily challenge and said a little appreciation would go a long way. While recognition from a leader would seem to be common sense, agency leadership needs to make it common practice in order to attract, retain, and motivate future generations.
Empowerment. The broad use of computers and mobile devices has created a generation whose work habits are far less tethered to a desk than any generation in the past—just take note of how many people are using laptops at your local coffee shop! Agency leaders need to support millennial tendencies to work remotely and independently.
Targeted Investment. With only so much time and money, any investment of dollars needs to be focused on specific outcomes. A terrific example is the DoD DIUX (Defense Innovation Unit Experimental). DIUX is a full-time outreach office in Silicon Valley that will serve to broaden the Pentagon’s access to new technologies. This innovative approach provides a model for other agencies to follow in promoting public service work that is appealing to the millennial generation.
Knowledge Transfer. Don’t wait—the best and brightest are working on an accelerated schedule when it comes to expected growth and leadership opportunities. Encourage senior leaders to pass along to promising younger workers their views and insights. This knowledge transfer should be targeted to those identified for leadership roles.
Meet the challenge of a looming generational transition head-on by developing actionable solutions that identify future leaders, enable knowledge transfer, and increase leadership capacity. A little bit of extra attention now can greatly improve the position of an agency in the future.
We’ve all come across a self-serving leader at one point in our professional careers. They are the type of leader who is motivated by self-interest and adopts the “give a little, take a lot” mindset. Self-serving leaders make their own agenda, status, and gratification more of a priority than those affected by their thoughts and actions. Harvard’s Institute of Politics study, “Survey of Young Americans’ Attitudes Toward Politics and Public Service,” proves that Millennials have zero tolerance for this type of leader. The study reveals that 59% of this booming generation feels that “elected officials” seem to be motivated by selfish reasons.
Another discouraging fact that government leaders are currently in the trenches of is the quick and steady decline of trust levels amongst current public sector employees and potential future leaders. Only 22% of Millennials trust the Federal Government to do the right thing. That percentage declines even more to 18% when it comes to trust levels with Congress. Trust, morals, values all encompass doing the right thing, not just for yourself but for society. I recently had a conversation with a colleague about the moral compass of the world today and the deteriorating values that are becoming the new normal. If you were one of the unlucky few that watched Miley Cyrus’ performance on the MTV Video Music Awards, you have an idea of what I am referring to. Our conversation focused on behavior that was once considered shocking is now common behavior, devoid of any reflection of the consequences that may occur. No longer should we lead by example and as the target group of this survey has solidified by the findings of the study, they are well aware of this fact and are taking matters into their own hands.
- 56 percent of Millennials agree that “elected officials don’t have the same priorities I have”
- 48 percent agree that “politics has become too partisan”
- 28 percent agree that “political involvement rarely has any tangible results”
Ron Fournier, author of the article, The Outsiders: How Can Millennials Change Washington If They Hate It?, took to several schools in Washington and Boston to uncover the truths behind what the Harvard IOP study unveiled. The students Ron interviewed seemed to have a general consensus of their outlook of the future if our government continues as it has been and it is pretty much aligned with Harvard’s survey results. A particular response that Fournier received to one of the questions asked at Langley High School in Washington was particularly unsettling. When Ron asked these students how many of them will pursue a career in politics or government, a student replied, “Is this a joke?” That same student commented, “The thing about social institutions is when you destroy them, they get rebuilt eventually, in a different form for a different time.”
If Millennials are set on “destroying” current social institutions so they can rebuild them to be more functional, who are the leaders that are guiding them down this path? Amongst the plethora of self-serving leaders that are shaping this generation’s perspective of our imminent future, where are the servant leaders that are providing balanced and positive examples and guidelines of how these individuals can change the world? We need these leaders. We need great leaders that serve our country rather than serve themselves.
Ken Blanchard wrote a book with Mark Miller, vice president of training and development for Chick-fil-A about how great leaders serve. In the book, the word serve is an acronym that outlines the traits that distinguish self-serving leaders from great leaders. The acronym stands for; S = See the Future, E = Engage and Develop People, R = Reinvent Continuously, V = Value Results and Relationships, and E = Embody the Values. The SERVE acronym is definitely not an easy thing to live up to on a daily basis. Yet, it seems as though the Millennials are on to something here.
When agencies are hit with budget cuts, leadership development training initiatives are often the first to go. Without a clear understanding of the positive and measurable mission impact, it’s easy to dismiss leadership development as being too expensive and too time consuming. The result can lead to employees showing up for work to collect a paycheck, without the maximum motivation and engagement to support the accomplishment of their agency’s mission.
Reserve your space now to join Ken Blanchard and other leadership development experts who will share insights on how investing in your agency’s most important asset–people–will re-engage employees and grow great leaders.
Why you need to attend:
- Learn ways you can motivate yourself and others by increasing productivity, enhancing motivation, encouraging creativity, and building loyalty.
- Understand the three inherent needs every disengaged employee requires to get motivated.
- Address generational differences impacting today’s leaders and the next generation in line for those leadership roles, and why this is critical to attracting – and keeping – Generation X, Y, and Millennial employees engaged.
Share Best Practices, Skills, and Ideas with your Colleagues
You’ll also have the opportunity to interact with a panel of your colleagues as they share the leadership training, strategies, and programs that have been successful within their agencies.
- Ken Blanchard, Co-founder, Author – The Ken Blanchard Companies
- Sharon Ridings, National Training Manager – Environmental Protection Agency
- Sioux Thompson, Head of Organization Development and Learning – Board of Governors, Federal Reserve
- Jeff Vargas, Chief Learning Officer – Commodity Futures Trading Commission
- Peter Shelby, Chief Learning Officer – National Reconnaissance Office, Co-Chair – Federal CLO Council
- Naomi Leventhal, Director – Deloitte Consulting
* Register by September 17th and bring a colleague from your agency for half the price. ($174 savings)
For more information, click here or call Christine Simmons at 800-272-3933.