Sunday, May 31, 2015

Leading Teams- Motivation

James Dyke's short book on leadership, Leading Teams: How to Inspire, Motivate, Lead, and Succeed! contains many short chapters that cover discrete elements of his ideas. Chapter 9 is titled "Connecting Individual Motivation with Team Vision." In it he lists ten major motivators of people in the workplace:
  • Recognition
  • Meaningful or significant work
  • a role that really matters
  • freedom and independence in working conditions
  • challenging work assignments
  • Personal growth and development/ professional growth and development
  • career advancement
  • job security
  • friendships in the workplace
  • having a "say" in decisions, policies, plans and goals

He recommends that one way to identify the important motivators for each member is simply to give them a list and ask them to rate each one on a 1-10 basis demonstrating their individual preferences for motivation. Personally, my list would look like this:

6  Recognition
8  Meaningful or significant work
8  a role that really matters
9  freedom and independence in working conditions
9  challenging work assignments
8  Personal growth and development/ professional growth and development
5  career advancement
job security
5  friendships in the workplace
8  having a "say" in decisions, policies, plans and goals

Based on my list, it is easy to understand why I am not motivated to attend the parties and happy hours of my group. It is not that I do not value friendships- I do. I just will not develop them in a large group setting. I need one-on-one time. My need to go to a bar after work tends to not be nearly as desirable as going out after I have gotten dinner on the table for the family. Family events are always tricky- especially when you throw my teenage Aspie into the mix. We socialize as a family in a very limited way.

As a teacher, job security is one of those taken for granted aspects. It is one of the major things teachers think about when they are trying to achieve tenure. As a part time teacher for the past 20 odd years, that is not a major goal for me. Recently however, my boss has made it painfully clear that as a part time person, I have an end date. While I am not terribly concerned with being back next year, I am tired of having it thrown in my face for the last few years that I have as much standing in the department as pond scum.

Career advancement and teaching are not necessarily synonymous. There is a very limited path of advancement. While there are currently several movements to create advancement paths for teachers, these are limited and the concept of everyone not being treated the same is difficult if not impossible for some teachers to accept.

In my years in PTA, one of the things that I have learned is that everyone wants recognition, but some people want it publically while others want it privately. Some want multiple big announcements while others want it understated. Some need it frequently, and others only after something significant. Everyone wants to be appreciated, it is how that comes off that is different. I want to be recognized meaningfully and subtly. Big displays will only embarrass me.

In general, teachers go in to teaching because they find their work meaningful. They see the role of helping develop young minds and souls as incomparable. Teaching kids is a calling. I have, however, found great joy in helping other teachers work out particularly tough problems. I have a lot of stuff crowded into my brain and I love the opportunity to try and apply it to new problems, even if they are not mine. Having the opportunity to work with other professionals- formally or informally- has become increasingly motivating to me.

I have frequently said that one of the best parts of being itinerant is the freedom it entails. Don't get me wrong. I love having knowledgeable people observe me in action and help me get better. Just be sure you can offer meaningful feedback. I detest being micromanaged. I have been at this a long time. I do not need you to remind me to get my paperwork in. I will do so. Let me choose to do my planning and paperwork in the location that I work best in and I will love you.

While I am as much of a creature of habit as the next person, I love a new challenge. When I was asked to take on Wilson Reading, my response was what resources do you have for me to learn the program over the weekend? When I was asked about taking on a selectively mute, math-phobic young woman in math, I said sure. Then I went on line, bought resources, read a bunch and dove in. When I was asked to do a preschool class though, I said no. I do not have the innate skills and my children's birthday parties at that age had me watching the clock for them to be over and taking Advil and wine when they were. I want academically challenging rather than behavioral. I prefer high school students and curriculum. Let me be in my zone and I will be successful at what you send me into.

As you might have guessed from my blog, I love PD. I do not need my boss to arrange it. I am perfectly capable and comfortable pursuing the trails of knowledge that intrigue me. Give me the time off I need to attend the workshops that I want to attend. Do not ask me to attend basic level programs when I have pursued it already.

I enjoy having a say in policies. I have an opinion on just about everything and am willing to share it. I try to have reasoned arguments for or against an item. I am good at playing devil's advocate in order to explore possibilities. I feel that I have been around enough to be able to offer some insights. I, like most people, am happiest with decisions when I can at least say I was heard.

Having thought about this exercise there is more to it than a number can tell. My feelings about these issues are complicated, as are, I suspect, most people. I guess I am surprised that the author neglected respect. Perhaps the fact that it is an overriding issue that all people need to have is why it is not part of this chapter. This exercise is a great conversation starter. It also helps to clarify things for the individual herself.

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