Motivation plays a fundamental role in achieving a united and committed team. Although achieving this is a challenge, it’s very important for any organization that wants to endure. Even for entrepreneurs who are starting and want their dream team to stay together and row for the project.

Not paying attention to motivation may also lead to turnover issues, as we’ve discussed in the past. There is no doubt that people will prefer to work in an environment that really motivates them.

With this post I would like to start a series related to building motivating and inspiring work environments. Concretely, sharing with you our journey and learnings while facing this great challenge.

As an important detail, and added complication for us, to comment that Kypseli was born as a 100% remote project. This will affect the approach, proposals and work model that we put into practice.

No two are the same

Each person is different and has particular motivations and interests. Therefore, the first step is to be able to understand what motivates each of us. But not just stay there. We are part of a team, and that requires us to seek the best balance for everyone.

For example: in Kypseli we have members who are highly motivated by order and others who do their best in a slightly less “orderly” environments. The ideal would be to build a work environment where both parties are as motivated as possible.

We could even think “if people are so different, I’ll only choose those who are very similar.” While it is true that it could unite the team a little more, let’s remember that diversity is crucial to improve and innovate.

It’s also important to pay attention to the people or roles with the greatest influence and/or assertiveness so that they do not restrict the rest of the members. We all know that, in general, it is more difficult to be honest in front of your boss or someone with a role, in a way, more “dominant”.

Direction signal
Jens Johnsson on Unsplash

What really drives us

We are now going to see a couple of exercises that we have done to reveal what motivates each of the members of Kypseli. And we will start with a Management 3.0 practice: moving motivators. Personally, it’s an exercise I really love to start conversations about what motivates us.

The exercise is very simple:

  • We will start by dealing each member with a group of 10 cards, each of which has a motivating factor. In our case, given the distance, we have done it through interactive online panels such as Google’s Jamboards.
  • Next, we will ask each member to order from left (least important) to right (most important) the different factors according to whether they are more or less important to them.
  • Now, open the reflection and conversation by encouraging each person to share their impression of each of the motivators.

This exercise can be repeated from time to time, and the results will surely be different. It’s normal, since the environment and circumstances of each person change over time.

Once this activity is finished, we’ll obtain very valuable knowledge about what motivates each one the most and least. We can even begin to get a glimpse of the team’s diversity. If everyone is motivated the most by order, and least by personal relationships, maybe it would be good to add a bit of diversity.

I would to that even for free

Next we focus on understanding what each of us would like to do in the future. I mean what we would really like the most. What would motivate us to even do it for free. In our case we did it through a new exercise.

We started by asking each team member to think of their “dream job”. It’s important to create a context that breaks as much as possible with the current reality to obtain the maximum benefits. I mean: that we forget what we do right now, where we work, where we live, etc. As if there were no restrictions and we were completely free. We can even play with conditions such as “imagine that you have won the lottery” (to eliminate financial worry) or “imagine that you have the ability to learn anything automatically” (to remove the learning restriction). You can even propose a small ice breaker at the beginning, since they help a lot to break with the work context and trigger creativity.

Next, we will ask each member to write down some points that would represent their ideal work: what would they do, how would they do it, what would they don’t want to miss, what they would never want, etc. Of course, it would be great if everyone was encouraged to tell a little about what they have in mind.

At the end of the exercise we will collect all this information to analyze it. As we do so, we will begin to glimpse what is on everyone’s mind. What would everyone really want to do with their life? And there’s no better starting point.

neon motivational wall
Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

The foundations of a new future

And now comes the work of assembling the puzzle. We will take all the feedback received and analyze it to extract aspects that should be part of our day to day to get as close as possible to what really motivates us.

We must pay special attention to those ideas that are not aligned with the culture we want to protect. In other words, we don’t want put proposals on the table that could jeopardize the common framework of the team and the organization.

But this doesn’t mean that this cultural framework is set in stone. Finding the healthiest balance for everyone is important. In fact, we will surely discover aspects that might shape our cultural framework. In our case, we decided to modify our vision to include day-to-day aspects that were very important, on a motivational level, for us. With this, we wanted our vision to really inspire us and guide us towards our ideal future.

And from all this analysis we should obtain a series of aspects to consider to improve motivation in our work environment. And here the work begins: we must prioritize and start tackling each of those points.

As an example we found important topics such as:

  • That our work allows us a healthy balance between personal and work life. That offers us a lot of independence and allows us to decide when and how to work.
  • Team up with people who share our values. With whom we have an excellent relationship. Who help and support us and vice versa. Who are proactive and like to learn and improve.
  • That our work allows us to make others happier and improve their lives.
  • To create a work environment free of unnecessary stress and worry.
  • Being able to work from anywhere.
  • Minimize the time and effort dedicated to legal, bureaucratic procedures, contracts, etc.
  • Keep a hierarchy as flat as possible. Work among equals.
  • Work while having fun.
  • That our day to day offers us challenges and learnings. That encourages creativity, innovation and that we do not stagnate.

Summarizing up

Ensuring a united, committed and motivated team is vital for both teams and organizations if they want to achieve healthy productivity and endure.

Throughout this post I have shared with you a little about how we have done to, through two team exercises, extract a series of proposals that take Kypseli towards an environment that really motivates us.

From there we have seen how we can obtain a series of aspects to consider as a basis for developing an action plan to work on.

In the following posts I’ll keep you updated about how we progress with these improvements, the problems we find, mistakes we make, etc.

As a personal recommendation, I also wanted to mention Daniel Pink’s book “Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us”. I think he does a great job synthesizing other authors and studies and is a very pleasant entry point to this topic.

As always, glad to hear your own experiences if you want to share them! Every team and organization is different and we can surely learn a lot from each other.