Express Your Real Motivations

Reading time ~ 2 minutes

Hidden agendas make you unpopular, especially those that are poorly concealed.

Everyone has an agenda. I prefer mine open and public. Some may try to take advantage of that but most will respect it…

Some time ago I attended a session with a team where there had been some communication challenges. The team’s normal very tight, cohesive ethos was fraying.

As a globally distributed coaching team they’d arranged to co-locate for a week to bash out a few things and generally get together before returning to their usual sites.

Dinner and a couple of beers into the first evening together and the team spirit had started to sparkle again – recognizing each other as friends, not just colleagues. The hint of political undercurrent was still gnawing at the edges of the smiles.

Into the second day and one of the very perceptive team members called a halt to proceedings.

My paraphrasing of the conversation…

“OK, time for a break. Before we go on, let’s catch up with each other for a bit… …why are you really doing this job, what’s your motivation – what’s your angle?”

This team knew each other well enough to already know the answers but actually calling them out publicly in front of each other was a new step in uncovering potential hidden conflict.

Because the team ran on trust and acted as a balanced cast (I’ll write about team casting in future); everyone acknowledged and accepted each others’ motivations knowing that despite being potentially sensitive they were honestly and openly given.

Even better, they discussed how each other could support those motivations.

The politics and tension were gone.

Earlier this week I watched someone with a blindingly obvious personal motivation attempt to leverage it in front of a smart bunch of people who were mostly there for related but different reasons. Rather than a public calling out, it was handled through amiable debate over a beer later but everyone in that following conversation recognized the unspoken calling out had been made and started trying to re-engage and collaborate.

Or at least I hope they did

In keeping with the spirit of this post I therefore share my own agenda…

  • I’m naturally creative and like to share
  • I seek personal but usually not financial reward
  • I want to be recognized for “good” things

I strive to make a positive difference by sharing my thoughts or observations and by participating in conversation. I seek personal reward through constructive intelligent feedback, good friends and good company.

3 thoughts on “Express Your Real Motivations

  1. And Yes I probably *am* a naiive old hippy. This is my idealogical side.
    “Bad Captain” does still occasionally have a say.

  2. I spotted this mail thread only a few days old in my inbox today…

    I believe the challenge expressed here is the same. Without knowing the creators personally, we *assume* what others’ motivations are and (with normal human nature) tend to question that motivation.

    Because there *is* a commercial market around agile knowledge sharing it’s remarkably hard to believe a stranger may be genuinely doing something simply for the sake of sharing without personal gain and our instinct is to challenge that.

    In a community that claims to encourage “trust”, it’s more like the prisoners’ dilemma.

    When you think someone is attempting to exploit a profit opportunity in this space, what do you do?

    Do you respond and say “great idea, I hope it serves your marketing and profitability needs – I wish I’d thought of it and followed through first…”? – Probably not.

    What if your judgement is wrong and they’re genuinely just trying to be a good citizen?
    It’s fair to call our your concerns, make sure the person you’re challenging doesn’t take it personally. You’ll both need to be open, understanding and apologetic if you’re wrong, (and then congratulate each other on being selfless 🙂 )

  3. My motivations are
    1. to get a pay raise
    2. to learn as many things and as fast as possible about the technology, and to create my own business next year.
    Should I express them?

    Just kidding.
    But these kinds of unexpressable motivations are pretty common…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *