Monday, September 14, 2015

How Will You Motivate Your Team, Pascal-san?

By Pascal Dennis

Last time I shared the above question which a revered sensei posed long ago.

Thanks to Daniel Breston for asking, “So how have you answered the question?”

Here’s what I have learned.

To motivate people to pull together for a long time toward a shared Noble goal, and thereby achieve the extraordinary things:
  1. Define a worthy Noble goal – and continually communicate it so people can relax about Purpose and work on the task at hand.

  2. Define the ‘banks of the river’ (aka the ‘design space’, how we’ll play the game) and let the team figure out how to get to the sea.

  3. Check in frequently and eliminate hassles for the team.

  4. Do not launch any top-down ‘Initiatives’ – they are almost always worse than bad.

  5. Define personal standards of behavior and try to live up to them

For me this means the Cardinal Virtues – Prudence, Temperance, Courage and Justice.

I hasten to add that, as a lazy tricky dysfunctional mortal being, I am not up to them. But I try anyhow.

  1. See the humor in almost all things. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Manage with a ‘light touch’

See above.

  1. Give people the benefit of the doubt. We’re all imperfect but most of us try to do the right thing

Remember Puck in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’: “Lord, what fools these mortals be!”

People deserve a second chance.

  1. Take a personal interest in each individual’s growth

  2. Reflect regularly and frankly. Be honest with yourself and each team member.

Feedback is the proverbial ‘breakfast of champions’.

Best regards,


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