Motivating Different Styles

Motivating Different Styles


Studies show that people are motivated by many different things. Money ranks in the middle of the list.

Rewards of an intangible nature – such as being recognized as a valuable contributor by the group, as having a special role – are usually ranked highest.

This knowledge, coupled with knowing how to be an effective communicator, can help you motivate different styles.

For example, when motivating Directors, remember to use an action-oriented approach. Tell them you value them because they make things happen, because they get results. Ask them if they’re willing to take on more responsibility. (Directors love the word “responsibility”). Tell them the goal and that you want them to figure out how to attain it. Remind them that other people are involved, and that success will depend on how well they involve others. Tell them they’ll be rewarded for achieving results.

When motivating Expressers, use a idea-oriented approach. Talk about how the project requires innovative thinking. Tell them how you appreciate their ideas – and that the project will succeed only if infused with fresh thinking. Remind them you want a clear plan. Reiterate how important they are to this project. (Expressers can handle a little flattery.) Offer financial rewards, but remember that Expressers are motivated by feeling valued as creative, innovative people, not by money.

When motivating Thinkers, focus on their ability to get things done precisely and with attention to detail. Thinkers are motivated by believing that they will have time to design a clear, detailed plan; they believe that success is achievable if they execute the plan perfectly. Motivate them by talking about the importance of attention to detail. Tell them that what matters isn’t that it get done right away, but that it get done right. You can motivate a Thinker by saying the group depends on him or her designing a clear plan or process. Remind them to check in with you regularly to touch base on their progress. (Unlike Expressers and Directors, Thinkers appreciate having someone look over their shoulders.)

When motivating Harmonizers, use a friendly, soft-spoken approach. Don’t get animated or loud. Establish a comfort zone with small talk before you get down to business. Appeal to their concern and dedication to people. Talk about the importance of the project to the team, to the company. Let them know that they have the full support of other people for this project. Let them know you value their contribution. But don’t overdo it. Set the reward system so that everyone on the team gets rewarded if they succeed, not just one or two people. Remind Harmonizers to let you know sooner rather than later if they’re getting overwhelmed. (Remember, Harmonizers tend to put off dealing with negative news as long as possible.)

Once the job is done, each style likes to receive praise in different ways.

  • Directors: “These are just the results we were looking for.”
  • Expressers: “It wouldn’t have been the same without your creative input.”
  • Thinkers: “By taking the time to do it right, you made a big contribution.”
  • Harmonizers: “You’ve made a terrific contribution to the team.”
Lesson 28: The Tools of Productive Communication Lesson 30: The Eleven Ground Rules

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