This article was based on episode 148 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Get a free 30 minute consult with Life Pulse Inc along with a custom program and discount on the LP planner when you become a member at themodernmanager.com/join.
An internally motivated team is unstoppable. They are driven by excitement for their work rather than external rewards or punishments. So how do we help create that spark? Matt Granados, founder and executive director of Life Pulse Inc, advocates for work environments that help employees connect intention with structure. Matt has successfully taught this method to teams at Twitter, Google, and the US Air Force, as well as to teachers, parents, and pets. (You heard me right - pets). Here, Matt goes through the essential questions we need to be asking our team on a weekly basis in order to better understand and support them. Once we understand them, we can help them structure their work and lives in order to tap into their natural desires, live more fulfilling lives and be their best selves.
CREATE INTENTION - GET TO KNOW YOUR TEAM
The majority of people don’t take time to define what they really want out of life. If you understand what your team wants in the long term, you can figure out together what they could be doing right now to move closer to that reality. For some managers, talking with your team members about their life’s purpose might feel too complicated or personal. (If you’re up for that conversation, check out Episode 147: Prevent And Recover From Burnout With Kristen Knowles where we talk about connecting to your purpose.)
As an alternative, Matt proposes three questions to ask your team each week. For each question, ask your team member to share one word. The one-word answer will give you insight into people’s lives without feeling invasive.
1. What Are You Focused On This Week? This can help you understand the person’s greater context, including potential sources of stress or what might be distracting them from their work. For example, if they say “their marriage” for four weeks in a row and they aren’t being as productive as usual, something may be troubling them at home. This tiny glimpse into their lives can enable you to better determine when an extra check-in might be needed or when to offer extra support.
2. What Are You Grateful For? What someone is grateful for is a strong indicator of their value system. Insight into what they care about helps you better connect on a personal level as well as align their motivation with larger goals.
3. What Are You Working Towards? This question helps you understand your teammates’ long and short term goals, without directly using the word “goals” which can intimidate people. This enables you to tailor your support as well as look for ideal opportunities to help advance your team members’ careers.
CREATE STRUCTURE - HOW TO GET WORK DONE
Review Your Previous Week
In addition to the big three questions, you can cultivate internal motivation through reflection and appreciation. Encourage each person to spend a few moments every week reviewing their previous week’s successes and struggles. In just a few minutes, you can help reground them in what matters most and explore how they want to approach this week differently. It also helps them get a quick snapshot of how balanced their lives are and if they want to adjust anything.
Spend five minutes reflecting on how they grew this past week in each of these four areas:
Internally - What did you do to develop your mind or learn something new?
Physically - How do you move or strengthen your body?
Relationally - What new relationships did your form or what prior relationships did you reinforce?
Professionally - How did you help move your career forward?
The To Do List
Matt suggests using a reverse planning technique for to-do lists. Begin with a brain dump of everything on your to-do list. Sort these tasks into one of the following buckets: what you want to get done, what you need to get done, and what is most important to get done. Some people prefer using the Eisenhower Box method of categorizing things as urgent, non-urgent, important, and not important. When you’re done, schedule time in your calendar for the important tasks, including those personal activities that will help you live a more balanced, fulfilling life.
MANAGERS NEED TO WALK THE TALK
Being, as Matt puts it, speaks louder than telling. If managers themselves live a life of purpose, their team members are more likely to emulate and listen to them. It’s important that managers ‘walk the talk’. Understand your own purpose. Ask yourself what you’re focused on, grateful for, and working towards on a weekly basis. Share these with your team members to help them better understand you as their leader. Create structure for getting the important, non-urgent things on your to-do list done.
Getting to know your team is a never-ending process. People’s lives are constantly changing. When you prioritize learning about you colleagues each week, you start to understand who your people are and what they want. When you understand your team, you can help them find ways to make work the most satisfying experience for them. You can help them find balance and structure to live their best selves.
KEEP UP WITH MATT
Get a free 30 minute consult with Life Pulse Inc along with a custom program and discount on the LP planner when you become a member at themodernmanager.com/join.
This article was based on episode 148 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.