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.

Freedom To Vent

Reading time ~ 2 minutes

Sometimes you just need to let things out.

When weasel politics come into play (instead of just the usual politics), my timer goes off. I know I should be more moderate but I don’t tolerate it, I choose not to play political games, they benefit nobody.  I see it, recognize it and want to call it out publicly.

My ability to be incredibly hard and direct or just downright 4-letter offensive is legendary (but rare). My colleagues coined the term Bad Captainfor when the Tourettes really kicks in – but that part doesn’t happen in the office.

Sometimes it’s the right approach – I’ve seen public calling-out work wonders on particularly toxic characters but more often it’s a career-limiting and collaboration-damaging thing to do.

If you face an underlying need to flame that doesn’t go away – you know – that urge to write down everything that’s wrong, calling out someone’s personal shortcomings, copying the entire world (and their bosses) and hitting send – remember the following advice…

It’s a bit like peeing in your pants as a kid, it feels warm for a few seconds but gets cold and uncomfortable very fast.

Rather than allowing me to blow a fuse, a former boss and I developed an understanding.

He recognized my need and would allow me to spend that magical halfhour furiously and perfectly crafting the necessary barb-laden email knowing that writing it was critical to my corporate sanity.  He was even willing for me to hit send!

As long as it only went to him.

After throwing my mail-bomb at his inbox, he’d wait for me to grab a cup of tea, take a break and calm down and would then come over…

“I’ve read your mail. There’s some valid points in there. Do you want me to do anything with this or just hit delete?”

That simple response was everything I needed in order to release the pressure, ask for help, get a response and start getting the situation back under control.

If you have staff or team members with a relatively high level of professional passion,  provide them the freedom to vent in a safe environment but support them in learning how to control it themselves and when to pick up the phone.