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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Does Your Mind Wander When Customers Are Talking?

After you ask open-ended questions to encourage buyers to begin talking, it's important to engage effective listening skills. Otherwise, why bother asking questions, right?

Have you ever spoken with people who are not paying attention to your conversation? Through their nonverbal behavior, you sense that their thoughts are elsewhere. Buyers will have a similar experience if they sense you are not listening attentively. You ask a question…and halfway through the buyer’s answer, you start thinking about how to respond. The nonverbal transformation from listening to waiting occurs in an instant. Like a cat waiting to pounce upon its prey, you anticipate the moment when the buyer will stop talking--instead of continuing to listen to them.

Do you think your buyers can sense when you have stopped listening? (That was a closed-ended, rhetorical question.) Buyers may not be able to identify the specific nonverbal behaviors that indicate you have stopped listening, but they will know. When buyers know you are not listening to them, they may decide that answering your questions is a waste of time.

How can you show buyers you are actively listening? You can employ listening skills…just like you employed your questioning skills to get them talking.

When your buyer answers your questions, how do you non-verbally show her that you are listening? Possibilities include:

    + maintaining eye contact
    + nodding your head in agreement
    + smiling or laughing at the buyer’s humor
    + facial expressions
    + leaning forward slightly
    + conveying curiosity and interest through your voice tone

Reflective listening is a natural activity when speaking with friends and family. It involves the nonverbal listening skills mentioned above as well as verbal encouragements such as:


“Tell me more.”


“Then what happened?”

As the buyer answers your questions and provides valuable information to help you make the sale, give her your feedback about what she is saying. That demonstrates you are actively listening, and it encourages her to continue talking.

For example, listen to how a television or radio talk show host encourages his guests to talk. He does not interview his guests like a news reporter, drilling them with one sharp or curt informational question after another. Rather, the talk show host encourages relaxed yet lively conversations fueled by open-ended questions and reflective listening. 

Good selling,

Peter C. Mclees, Sales Coach and Trainer
Smart Development
Mobile: 323-854-1713

We help sales reps and sales organizations accelerate their sales. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Insanity of Sales Managers

There are a variety of ways to describe “insanity.” Picking the Cleveland Browns to win is right up there at the top. (Sorry Bruce 😊)

However, the most common expression of insanity, of course, is “doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.” Consultants and keynote speakers have been riding that train for a long time.

Unfortunately, the whole concept of insanity seems to be lost on many sales managers. Salespeople will produce the same mediocre results over and over, but never change a single thing they are doing. In many cases, they resist any kind of change, insisting that what they do actually works! The problem, they say, is a sluggish economy, or a product that lacks key features, or a marketing initiative that falls short, or a set of circumstances that is working against them.

Anything, of course, except what they are doing. Over and over and over...

As a sales leader, you simply cannot afford to allow those bad habits and poor decisions to continue. A common trap for sales leaders is to accept the idea that salespeople can simply work harder and their results will change. Or that they can somehow do what they are doing now, only better.

This is a disaster waiting to happen (or currently happening). Only a change in habits will produce different results; however – preferring to avoid the inevitable conflict – sales leaders are temporarily blinded by someone’s good intentions. They accept at face value that salespeople intend to – and actually can - create better performance by trying harder. The reality is, the majority of the time you are simply delaying the inevitable and ensuring more time-robbing challenges down the road.

Yes, I know. Every now and then, you win the lottery. A salesperson mired in mediocre performance works their way out of a long-term slump. When was that...2008? The question is this: Do you really want to manage your entire team based on an exception to the rule? Do you want to wait on the 1-in-100 (or worse) chance that a mediocre salesperson will suddenly hit the jackpot?

The Wrong Problem

This, of course, is the reason why consistently effective sales managers requires salespeople to, a) follow a defined sales process and, b) create a detailed sales plan, to reach revenue objectives. The sales process and sales plan – done correctly – ensure that salespeople pursue high-value, high probability opportunities, engage in adequate discovery, meet the prospect’s expectations, and eventually creating a solution (and presentation) that is customized to the individual client.

So, when results aren’t as expected, the sales leader immediately reviews the process and the plan to see where the breakdown is occurring. Yes, work ethic is occasionally the problem. The salesperson simply isn’t putting in the time or effort to create the intended result. Most of the time, however, the performance problem is one of bad habits, which result from poor or nonexistent training.

Changing that bad habit requires the sales manager to identify the specific part of the process that is producing the wrong result, and then provide the necessary coaching to change it. “Working harder” at the wrong habit will never produce the intended result, and non-specific change will do little, if anything, to change the current results.

Root cause analysis (RCA) is a valuable tool in analyzing performance and identifying the real issues. (Click on the link to read about "The '5 Whys'--Getting to the Root of A Problem Quickly.") What you never want to be guilty of is solving the wrong problem! That’s exactly what often happens – a manager takes a quick peek at a symptom and identifies it as the problem, and the resulting “fix” never changes the results. Zig Ziglar’s famous observation works here: “Prescription before diagnosis is malpractice.”

Truer words were never spoken.

It’s not hard to find the real problem. It’s generally a matter of asking the question “Why?” about the symptom until you get to the source of the problem. If, for example, a salesperson is struggling with declining margins, what is the real problem? Has the product become obsolete or commoditized? Is the salesperson weak at communicating the product’s value? Does the salesperson lack courage in the face of strong objections? Is the salesperson giving away margin simply to drive more sales?

You really don’t know, and you really can’t determine the proper coaching necessary to fix the coaching, until you start asking “Why?”

Sales Manager:     
“Your gross margin is only 28 percent this year, but the rest of the
sales team is between thirty and thirty-four percent. What do you
think is the problem?” (Why?)

“I think customers are just pushing harder for discounts.”

Sales Manager:       
“Why do you think that’s the case?” (Why?)

“Well, our biggest competitor sells essentially the same product,
 and they are consistently offering lower prices.”

Sales Manager:     
“Certainly the product lines are similar, no doubt about that.
 However, there are significant differences as well. Why do you
 think customers see our product as being ‘essentially the same?’” 

“The truth is, I don’t usually get a chance to detail the differences. 
Customers always want to jump directly to pricing.”

Sales Manager:     
“That’s very interesting. If you had to guess, why do you think
customers jump directly to price?” (Why?)

You can see where this conversation is headed. However, the next salesperson might wind up with a completely different root cause. Which means that sales managers simply cannot afford to offer up generic, non-specific coaching and hope to see improvements in performance.

Two Problems

Just about every sales manager has salespeople who are not meeting expectations.

Don’t you?

Of course, you do. The question is, are you addressing the issue? Because most sales managers aren’t. So, there are really two issues here: 1) identifying the real problem and coaching improvement, and 2) having the courage to address the performance issue rather than ignoring it and hoping it will go away.

To be perfectly blunt, underperforming salespeople are not the problem. Never have been. The problem is sales managers who cannot or will not confront performance issues and/or do not have the skills to provide habit-changing coaching.

And that is absolutely the definition of insanity.

Good selling,

Peter Mclees, Sales Coach, Trainer and Performance Consultant
Mobile: 323-854-1713
Smart Development

Smart Development  has an exceptional track record helping sales teams, branches, ports, restaurants, stores, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, government agencies, and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength and the teamwork necessary for growth. Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.

Winning by Giving

Succeeding Through Kindness

"When I chased after money, I never had enough. When I got my life on purpose and focused on giving of myself and everything that arrived into my life, then I was prosperous."

                                           – Wayne Dyer, author and speaker

When we're at work, we can spend a lot of energy trying to get help from those around us. However, how much time do we spend helping others in return?

Having a strong social support network at work raises engagement, productivity, and overall success. If we truly want to succeed, however, each of us can spend time "giving ourselves" to those in our network. Only then will we experience the true benefits that giving brings, and start to see the success we've dreamed of.

Benefits of Giving
Giving makes us happy. The happier we are, the more energy we have, the better we think, and the more friendships we develop. Giving not only feels good, but research shows that it lowers your chance of depression, strengthens your heart, lowers stress, and can literally add years to your life.

Professionally, giving also offers several benefits. One study found that fostering positive social support at work raises productivity. Another study found that those who give at work ("work altruists"), are far more engaged with what they do and are more often promoted, compared with colleagues who stay isolated while doing their job.

However, you probably don't need research to tell you that giving makes you feel good! Just think back to the last time you helped a colleague who was stuck with a problem, or took your assistant out to lunch. Giving boosts our energy in a way that nothing else can. We feel connected and engaged when we help others, because it reminds us of what it means to be human, at its best.

All this, in turn, comes back to us in ways we could never expect or predict. Giving creates a network of trust, goodwill, and good energy at work that can pay off many times over in the future.

Giving and kindness also have an important ripple effect, which is why one generous person can transform a team or an organization. The person you give to feels great about the help they received. This can create a desire in them to "pay back" that kindness to someone else. Much like ripples in a pond, one act of kindness can impact dozens, or even hundreds, of lives.

How to Give More
The good news about giving is that you don't need to invest huge chunks of your time to do it. Often, the smallest acts of kindness and consideration can have a big impact on those around us.

So, how can we give at work?

1. Just Listen
A great way of giving is simply to listen to others.
When you do this, listen without contributing your opinion, and without trying to "top their story." Use active listening skills, so that you can fully grasp what they're telling you, and respond with empathy and understanding.

2. Offer Specific Help
How many times have you heard a colleague say, "Let me know if you need any help!" but had the distinct feeling they didn't really mean it? Vague offers of help can come across as half-hearted or insincere. Offering help in a specific way shows that you mean it.

For instance, your colleagues may be complaining about their workload. So, offer specific help: volunteer to collect their lunch for them, so that they can continue working, or give them a hand with a task if your own workload allows. When you offer specific assistance, you let others know that you're truly willing to help.

3. Show Gratitude
If you're in a leadership position, how often do you give praise to your team? How often do you say "thank you" to your assistant for the good work he or she does every day?

Showing gratitude to those around us, whether above or below us in the hierarchy, is a simple but powerful way to give. So, find ways to say "thank you" to your team and colleagues. You might be surprised at the difference that this makes to your relationships!

4. Become a True Mentor
When you mentor others, you can share a lifetime's worth of knowledge and skill in order to help them succeed. This unselfish act not only benefits the professionals you work with; it can change your own life in many ways.

It probably goes without saying that your organization will benefit when strong mentoring relationships are formed within it. Start mentoring in the workplace now, and experience the satisfaction that comes with helping others to succeed.

5. Share Resources
If your team or department has ample resources or supplies, why not offer to share them with another team or department, particularly if it is not as well funded as yours?
This could include sharing resources such as physical supplies, but also knowledge, technology, and team member expertise as well. (This won't be viable in some situations. Use your own best judgment here, and make sure that you're doing your own job properly as well!)

6. Offer a Hand to New Employees
Can you remember what it was like on your very first day at the organization? You didn't know anyone, and you probably felt overwhelmed by all of your tasks and responsibilities.

When a new employee joins your organization or team, spend time with her during her first few weeks and help her have a successful induction. Offer to help her get used to her new role, and take her around to meet everyone that she'll be working with. Share your knowledge about the organization's culture and values.

This can make a challenging transition smoother and less stressful.

7. Practice "Random Acts of Kindness"
Random acts of kindness can transform both you and the person you help. When you are kind to someone anonymously, you give for the simple, ego-less pleasure of giving, and that's it. So, practice random acts of kindness when you're at work.

What can you do? Leave a cup of gourmet coffee on your colleague's desk when he or she is having a bad day. Send an anonymous "thank you" letter to your organization's cleaning staff. Bring some healthy snacks or homemade cookies to work, and leave them anonymously in the break room, with a note letting others know that they're for everyone.

There are endless ways that you can make a positive impact on someone else's day. Just use your imagination!

8. Find Your Purpose
Every job has a purpose. It's easy, especially when we're busy and stressed, to forget how our role helps others. But, no matter what we do or where we do it, ultimately our work should benefit someone else.

Take time to find your purpose at work. Once you dig down to find the ultimate meaning of what you do, you may be surprised by how much your work helps others.


Although it's important to give your time and energy to others, it's equally important not to go too far! If you spend too much time helping your coworkers, you may find that you don't have time to accomplish your own objectives. It's important to find the right balance between helping others, and focusing on your own goals and tasks.

Key Points
Giving our time and energy to others not only feels good, but it's been proven to make us happier, more productive, and more engaged with our team and organization.

Giving also offers positive physical benefits as well: it helps alleviate stress, helps lower our risk of illnesses like depression, and even helps us live longer!

You can give back to others by doing any or all of the following:

1.Just listen to others.
2.Offer specific help.
3.Show gratitude.
4.Become a mentor.
5.Share resources.
6.Offer a hand to new employees.
7.Practice random acts of kindness.
8.Find your purpose.

Make an effort to give regularly – you'll love the results.

To your greater happiness and effectiveness,
Peter Mclees, Leadership Coach, Facilitator and Performance Consultant
Mobile: 323-855-1713

Smart Development has an exceptional track record helping service providers, ports, sales teams, restaurants, stores, branches, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, government agencies and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, coaching skills and the teamwork necessary for growth. Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.

Thanksliving: Practicing an Attitude of Perpetual Gratitude

It's been said that life is a good news, bad news proposition. The good news is that life's challenges help us grow. The bad news is that there is more good news coming!

In his book Discovering the Laws of Life, the famed money manager and philanthropist John Tempelton coined the word “Thanksliving.” He recommended practicing an attitude of perpetual gratitude.

That's not hard when times are good. But in challenging times an attitude of continual thankfulness can be a tall order. Yet Tempelton offers a radical solution. Don't just give thanks for your blessings. Be grateful for your problems, too.

This seems wildly counterintuitive at first blush. But facing our challenges makes us stronger, smarter, tougher, and more valuable as leaders, employees, parents, mates, ...and human beings.

"Solving problems is what were made for" it's what makes life worth living," remarked Templeton.

He goes on, "Adversity, when overcome strengthens us. So we are giving thanks not for the problem itself but for the strength and knowledge that comes from it. Giving thanks for the growth ahead of time will help you grow through--not just go through--your challenges."

What ever problems we're grappling with--personal, social, health, or financial--the best course is to face them with all the courage, patience, and equanimity you can muster.

And if possible be grateful.

On occasion, of course, our problems are simply bigger than we are. In an address in 1859, Abraham Lincoln recounted the following tale:

It is said that an Eastern Monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and in all situations. They presented him with the words: "And this, too, shall pass away." How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!

That's something worth keeping in mind.

Whatever your problems, few of them can withstand the onslaught of optimism, persistence, and a genuine spirit of gratitude.

As the poet Robert Frost reminds us, "The best way out is always through."

Happy Thanksgiving!

Peter Mclees, Leadership Coach, Trainer and Performance Consultant
Mobile: 323-854-1713

Smart Development has an exceptional track record helping service providers, ports, sales teams, restaurants, stores, branches, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, government agencies and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, coaching skills and the teamwork necessary for growth. Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The "5 Whys"-- Getting to the Root of a Problem Quickly

Getting to the Root of a Problem Quickly

Learn how to drill down into a problem, to get to its root and solve it quickly and effectively.

Have you ever had a problem that refused to go away? No matter what you did, sooner or later it would return, perhaps in another form.

Stubborn and recurrent problems are often symptoms of deeper issues. A "quick fix" may seem convenient, but it's really just a temporary solution and it may solve only part of the problem.

To solve it properly, you need to drill down through the symptoms to the underlying cause. This article looks at Sakichi Toyoda's 5 Whys technique – a simple but powerful tool for quickly uncovering the root of a problem, so that you can deal with it once and for all.

About the Tool

Sakichi Toyoda, one of the fathers of the Japanese industrial revolution, developed the technique in the 1930s. He was an industrialist, inventor and founder of Toyota Industries. His technique became popular in the 1970s and Toyota still uses it to solve problems today.

Toyota has a "go and see" philosophy. This means that its decision making is based upon an in-depth understanding of the processes and conditions on the shop floor, rather than reflecting what someone in a boardroom thinks might be happening.

The 5 Whys technique is true to this tradition, and it is most effective when the answers come from people who have hands-on experience of the process being examined. It is remarkably simple: when a problem occurs, you uncover its nature and source by asking "why" no fewer than five times. Here it is in action:

Problem: Your client is refusing to pay for the leaflets you printed for them.
1.Why? The delivery was late, so the leaflets couldn't be used.
2.Why? The job took longer than we anticipated.
3.Why? We ran out of printer ink.
4.Why? The ink was all used up on a big, last-minute order.
5.Why? We didn't have enough in stock, and we couldn't order it in quickly enough.

Counter-measure: We need to find a supplier who can deliver ink at very short notice so that we can continue to minimize inventory, reduce waste, and respond to customer demand, in line with our Just in Time  approach.

When to Use the Tool

You can use the 5 Whys in troubleshooting, quality improvement and problem solving, but it is best for simple or moderately difficult problems.

For more complex or critical problems, it can lead you to pursue a single track of inquiry when there could be multiple causes. Here, a wider-ranging method such as Cause and Effect Analysis  may be more effective.

This simple technique, however, can often quickly direct you to the root of the problem. So, whenever a system or process isn't working properly, give it a try before you embark on a more in-depth approach.

The simplicity of this tool gives it great flexibility, too, and it combines well with other methods and techniques. It is often associated with lean manufacturing  (also part of the Toyota Production System), where it is used to identify and eliminate wasteful practices. It is also used in the analysis phase of the Six Sigma  quality improvement methodology.

How to Use the Tool

The 5 Whys is a simple, practical tool that is very easy to use. When a problem arises, simply keep asking the question "why" until you reach the underlying source of the problem, and until a robust counter-measure becomes apparent.


The 5 Whys uses "counter-measures," rather than solutions. A counter-measure is an action or set of actions that seeks to prevent the problem arising again, while a solution just seeks to deal with the situation. As such, counter-measures are more robust, and are more likely to prevent the problem from recurring.

Each time you ask "why," look for an answer that is grounded in fact: it must be an account of things that have actually happened – not events that might have happened. This prevents the 5 Whys becoming just a process of deductive reasoning, which can generate a number of possible causes and, sometimes, create more confusion.

Keep asking "why" until you feel confident that you have identified the root cause and can go no further. At this point, an appropriate counter-measure should become evident. If you're not sure whether you have uncovered the real root cause, consider using a more in-depth problem-solving technique like Root Cause Analysis .

Key Points

The 5 Whys strategy is an easy to use, effective tool for uncovering the root of a problem. You can use it in troubleshooting, problem solving and quality improvement initiatives.

Start with a problem and ask "why" it is occurring. Make sure that your answer is grounded in fact, then ask "why" again. Continue the process until you reach the root cause of the problem, and you can identify a counter-measure that prevents it recurring.

Bear in mind that this questioning process is best suited to simple to moderately-difficult problems. Complex problems may benefit from a more detailed approach (although using 5 Whys will still give you useful insights.)

To your greater success,

Peter Mclees, Leadership Coach, Trainer and Performance Consultant
Mobile: 323-854-1713

Smart Development has an exceptional track record helping service providers, ports, sales teams, restaurants, stores, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, government agencies and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, coaching skills and the teamwork necessary for growth. Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

One of the Greatest Assets for Thriving in Disruptive Times

If you’re a leader, a business owner, an investor, a manager, a salesperson, or a problem-solver, one of the greatest assets you can have for thriving in disruptive times is your thirst for answers—your curiosity.

The Curious Thing About Curiosity

All of us have untold potential. Yet it’s easy to fall into behaviors that prevent us from reaching what we are capable of. These behaviors are almost always the result of self-limiting beliefs. There are millions of them:

I can’t lose control because the world will spin apart.
I can’t love because I’ll be hurt.
I can’t speak up because I’ll be put down.
I can’t challenge the status quo because I’ll be punished.
I can’t try because I’ll fail.

Although none of these things may be true, many people act as though they are. And limit themselves as a result.

Each of these beliefs is personal. It’s easy to see how they might affect a person's behavior, happiness, or chances for success. But underlying them all is another limiting belief—one that is more insidious and in many ways harder to deal with than any of the others. It is the belief that the way things ‘are’ is permanent.

“It is what it is” may be true. 
“It will always be what it is” couldn’t be further from the truth.

Nothing is permanent. Your body and your mind change from moment to moment. Eventually, those changes (we call them aging) become so profound that you wear out: you cease to exist.

Even though we see the impermanence of life almost daily, we often cling to the belief that certain other things are permanent. Knowledge, for example, is permanent, isn't it?

Not at all. The history of science is the story of human beings converting what we know into what we thought we knew. The Greek astronomer Ptolemy thought the earth was the center of the universe with the sun and stars revolving around it. Today we know that our earth is a small planet on the outer edge of a remote galaxy billions of lightyears from the center of the universe.

And some time in the future even this sophisticated concept of the way things are will prove to be faulty. It will become as obsolete as Ptolemy’s.

Many people find the idea of impermanence unsettling. But there’s another way to look at it. Impermanence can actually be empowering.

If we can accept that everything is changing, and that even what we ‘know’ is not stable, we can actually exercise enormous influence over our lives. Far from making us helpless, this belief actually gives us leverage.

If Nothing Is Permanent, Curiosity Becomes A Source Of Power

Think of it this way: If what you ‘know’ to be true has become no longer true, and you act as though it still is true, you are probably limiting your options.

Here’s a story that illustrates this point: In traditional South Asian societies, elephants were trained as beasts of burden. If you owned an elephant, you were wealthy. But you had to invest in your asset. Not only did you have to feed and care for it, you also had to make sure it didn’t wander off, get into your neighbor’s garden, or accidentally knock over the outhouse.

How do you keep an elephant in place? If you don’t have easy access to metals and forges with which to make chains, it’s not easy. Elephants are strong.

But Indian mahouts discovered a simple and reliable method. Soon after a calf was born, it was tethered by a heavy rope to a tree or stake pounded into the ground. The rope was tied around the animal’s leg with a slip knot. If the calf pulled, the rope tightened painfully. Over time, even the slightest pressure from the rope would warn the baby elephant to back off.

Adult elephants are kept in place with a much lighter rope. They can easily break it. But they don’t. Because they assume things haven’t changed and the rope will still cause them pain. As smart as they are, the elephants aren’t curious enough to question whether what they once knew to be true still is.

Most of us have elephant’s tethers of our own. We repeat the same behaviors over and over, simply because “that’s the way things are”.

One simple way out of this mess is to be curious. Pull at the rope. See what happens. You never know, you might find there’s a whole world out there waiting for you to explore.

Curiosity To The Rescue

Curiosity—combined with courage—is the root of every major advance human beings have ever made. So how can leaders, managers, salespeople, and problem-solvers use curiosity to their advantage?

By harnessing the power of questions. From simple, informational questions to complex, probing ones, questions are the key. There’s nothing new in this. Socrates discovered the power of questions 2,500 years ago, and the world’s most successful leaders, thinkers, humanitarians, inventors, investors, and artists have been using it ever since.

The most basic questions are informational: who, what, where, when, how long, how much, and so on. When you meet a new person, you can use these basic questions to open up areas for mutual discovery. You can find commonalities and connections, you can give yourself the chance learn another person's perspectives.

The next level is the complex, often difficult question that relentlessly probes for causes, reasons, and speculations. This is where you begin to discover what’s working for other people—and what isn’t. What they hope for and what they fear. These questions open worlds of problems and opportunities and challenges and solutions.

Finally, there are the questions that have no answer. These are the ones that create the new—that move us both individually and as a species to the next level.

Questions—the basic tool of curiosity—activate a very different part of the brain than mere statements. Questions literally energize the brain.

A Simple Experiment

See for yourself. Here’s a quick thought experiment. Look at the following sentence and notice what happens in your mind when you read it: 

New technologies will change the way we live.

Now look at the next sentence. Notice what goes on in your mind as you read it:

How might new technologies change the way we live?

If you’re like most people, you didn’t react much to the first sentence—the statement. It probably just sat there.

But the second sentence—the question—activated your mind. You may have imagined possible futures, or thought about how technology has already changed the way you live or do business. In other words, something happened when your curiosity was triggered. It’s almost as though you can’t help yourself. Once you encounter a question, your mind jumps to try to answer it.

Curiosity Generates Energy!

Curiosity is the way we build both knowledge about the world and connection with the people around us. It’s also how we discover the new. 

Mutual curiosity is a kind of two-way street that carries the traffic of human thought, feeling, commerce, connection, and possibility.

To your greater happiness and effectiveness,
Peter Mclees, Leadership Coach, Facilitator and Performance Consultant
Mobile: 323-854-1713

Smart Development has an exceptional track record helping service providers, ports, sales teams, restaurants, stores, branches, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, government agencies and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, coaching skills and the teamwork necessary for growth. Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

How to REALLY Motivate People

Pink's Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose Framework
Encouraging Self-Motivation

Why do you work? What's your motivation? Is it the prospect of that end-of-year bonus? The promotion that you've been promised? Or do you just, quite simply, love what you do?

Many people work in environments that are dominated by "stick and carrot" motivation: do well and you'll get a reward, but do badly and you'll be punished. However, with this approach, the satisfaction of doing a job well can often get lost in the drive for praise and promotion.

Research on employee engagement suggests that people perform better when they are motivated. But there's still widespread debate about whether traditional motivational strategies, like "stick and carrot," really work.

So, in this article, we explore a model that casts away the idea of reward and punishment as motivational tools and, instead, focuses on what it takes to make people really care about what they do.

What is Motivation 3.0?

In his 2009 book, "Drive," Daniel Pink sets out a new vision for workplace motivation, which he labels "Motivation 3.0." So called, he explains, because it's an upgrade from primitive survival ("Motivation 1.0") and from the culture of reward and punishment that we find in most businesses ("Motivation 2.0").

Pink's theory is drawn from research undertaken by psychologists Harry Harlow and Edward Deci in 1971. They discovered that rewards can fail to improve people's engagement with tasks, and may even damage it. Another study was carried out by professors at MIT in 2017, and recorded similar findings.

Pink argues that traditional "carrot and stick" approaches to motivation are becoming outdated, and do not adequately address the needs of the creative and innovative workplaces of the 21st century. Despite this, extrinsic motivation, or "Type X" behavior (motivating people using rewards external to work), is often deep-rooted, particularly among older employees who are accustomed to it.

In contrast, intrinsic motivation, or "Type I" behavior (when people are self-motivated because they are given the freedom to do the work they enjoy), is increasingly common in modern workplaces, where routine work is often outsourced. In these kinds of environments, innovation and creativity are key. So, it's essential that people are allowed to thrive by doing work that they are truly passionate about.

The Three Key Components of Intrinsic Motivation

According to Pink, intrinsic motivation is based on three key factors: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. Let's look at each factor in more detail:


Autonomy is the need to direct your own life and work. To be fully motivated, you must be able to control what you do, when you do it, and who you do it with.

According to Pink, autonomy motivates us to think creatively without needing to conform to strict workplace rules. By rethinking traditional ideas of control – regular office hours, dress codes, numerical targets, and so on – organizations can increase staff autonomy, build trust, and improve innovation and creativity.

Motivation by autonomy is often used by software companies, many of which give their engineers time to work on their own development projects. This gives them the freedom to try out and test new ideas, which can deliver benefits to the organization, such as improved processes or innovative solutions.


Mastery is the desire to improve. If you are motivated by mastery, you'll likely see your potential as being unlimited, and you'll constantly seek to improve your skills through learning and practice. Someone who seeks mastery needs to attain it for its own sake.

For example, an athlete who is motivated by mastery might want to run as fast as she possibly can. Any medals that she receives are less important than the process of continuous improvement.


People may become disengaged and demotivated at work if they don't understand, or can't invest in, the "bigger picture." 

But those who believe that they are working toward something larger and more important than themselves are often the most hard-working, productive and engaged. So, encouraging them to find purpose in their work – for instance, by connecting their personal goals to organizational targets using OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) or OGSMs (Objectives, Goals, Strategies and Measures)  – can win not only their minds, but also their hearts.

Offering staff the chance to use their skills to benefit local non-profits, for example, can foster a strong sense of purpose. As can developing a value- or ethics-led company vision that encourages people to "buy in" to its key organizational goals.

How to Build an Intrinsically Motivated Team

Making the change to a culture that focuses on intrinsic motivation can be daunting, particularly for organizations that are built on traditional reward and punishment models. But, Pink argues that – over time, and with practice – Type I behavior can be learned.

The following four strategies can help you to encourage your team to become more intrinsically motivated:

1. Try Out "10 Percent Time"

Give team members the chance to spend 10 percent of their working time on a project of their own choice.

These projects should fall outside of their day-to-day work, but offer benefits to your business. Fixing a software bug or finding ways to improve a process, for instance.


A team that's already very busy and overworked, or that is facing a crisis, may not welcome 10 Percent Time, and may even see it as an additional burden. This view could be shared by senior management  – if you are currently behind on your core targets, for example. So, think carefully about whether this strategy is feasible for your team and when best to introduce it.

2. Take Steps to Give Up Control

Relinquish (some) managerial control in favor of giving your team members more autonomy. You can do this by:

+ Involving people in setting their own goals – individuals will likely be more engaged in their work when they pursue goals that they have helped to create.

+ Reducing controlling language – instead of saying "you must" or "you should," use terms like "consider doing" or "think about doing."

+ Having open-door hours – set aside time when people can come and talk to you  about business or personal issues, without fear of judgment or censure.

3. Develop "Goldilocks Tasks"

"Goldilocks tasks" are, as the name suggests, tasks that are neither too hard nor too easy, but "just right." They are team projects that encourage focus and flow , and which can aid the development of mastery.

These types of tasks resemble stretch goals – ambitious targets that challenge what people deem possible. They should stretch your team members and enable them to develop their skills.

Goldilocks tasks often involve collaborative work and have clear end goals. This helps to promote a sense of purpose. For example, you could ask your team to resolve bottlenecks in a product distribution system, or to improve your organization's customer service interface.

4. Promote Collaboration and Cross-Skilling

If your team has lots of skills to offer, you can put them to good use by allowing your team members to move between functions. And you can promote cross-skilling or up-skilling by encouraging them to share their skills and collaborate with others as part of your wider learning culture.

"Hot desking" (where people have no fixed desk and can sit in a different place each day) is a good way to facilitate this. It enables people to choose who they work with, and promotes knowledge sharing between members of different teams.

However, think carefully before introducing hot desking. There may be competition for space, and noise levels can sometimes build up and cause distractions. So, consider setting some ground rules before introducing hot desking.

For instance, you could ask people to clear their desks at the end of each day to avoid a build-up of clutter. And, if a team is working on an important project where communication is essential, make sure that they are able to sit together.


Make sure that these strategies don't go against your organization's objectives or policies, and that you get signoff from senior management before introducing any of them. Otherwise they could end up being disruptive rather than helpful.

Avoiding Potential Pitfalls

In many organizations, developing autonomy, mastery and purpose will likely involve a cultural shift. So, think carefully about how the framework fits with your organization's activities and structure before introducing it.

Organizations that work to strict deadlines and protocols, and which consequently have a very strong Type X culture, may find this kind of motivational framework difficult, or even harmful. These could include, for example, law firms where professional standards are very important, or large production or manufacturing plants where process is key. Similarly, companies or teams that already have bonus schemes in place will likely find it hard to make the switch.

Even in the creative industries, which are Pink's primary focus, your people still need to know that their basic needs, such as security and safety, will be met. Avoid interpreting Pink's focus on intrinsic motivators as a green light to forget extrinsic ones.

Bear in mind that causes of satisfaction and dissatisfaction can be complex, and that Pink's framework isn't a "fix-all" remedy. Even if your team members love their jobs, they may still be demotivated by other factors, such as poor working relationships, for example.

Key Points

In his 2009 book, "Drive," Daniel Pink proposes a new motivational model that he believes is a better fit for today's creative and innovative workplaces.

Pink's model focuses on enabling people to become intrinsically motivated – that is, using internal drives as a source of motivation. He calls this behavior "Type I." It contrasts with the traditional model of extrinsic motivation, or "Type X" behavior, which focuses on motivating people through reward and punishment.

To build an intrinsically motivated team, you need to focus on three key factors:
1. Autonomy – people are trusted and encouraged to take ownership of their own work and skill development.
2. Mastery – people see no limits to their potential and are given the tools they need to continue to improve their skills.
3. Purpose – people are encouraged to use their skills to achieve a "greater" purpose – for instance, getting involved in a "good cause" that they are passionate about.

To your greater success,
Peter Mclees, Leadership Coach, Facilitator and Trainer

Smart Development has an exceptional track record helping service providers, ports, sales teams, restaurants, stores, branches, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, government agencies and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, coaching skills and the teamwork necessary for growth. Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.