Motivation can be simple… Kevin’s Broom Theory of Motivation


We should all know Victor H Vroom’s model of motivation – It’s a great multiplication model so if any answer is zero to any part, the motivation will be zero. It discusses the What, How and Why and understanding what the outcome might be.

I have a simpler model, which is a different approach, pretty effective and probably only takes a couple of minutes of any ‘leaders’ time …

I was discussing motivation with a couple of ‘leaders’ in Newfoundland last year after an Oilfield conference and we eventually came round to the rhetorical question;

“You talk about motivation but you can’t motivate everyone, can you!”

I suggested you could, and actually very easily, so I was challenged by one of the managers.

“How can you motivate anyone who’s only job it is to do is push a brush (or broom as we often call them). They know nothing else, it’s their only job and you can’t motivate them” (he really meant it!).

This could easily have slipped into a game of “no you can’t”,  “yes you can”, so I made my move, motivated by the challenge.

I asked what happened if these people ever broke the brush and the answer was, “Buy them a *** new one!” (* he included a few expletives). I suggested this certainly wasn’t motivating and asked if I might suggest an alternative.

Why not ask them our own Tim Marsh’s curious WHY? question (not the blame question why the hell did you?!) but  “Why did the broom break?”  “Is there anything wrong with it, is it right for the job?” Within seconds the person will be half and inch (or a whole centimetre) taller just because you’ve engaged with the person.  …Simple!

You’ve engaged with them, given them some worth, and it gets better… Why not then give them some form or ownership or empowerment? So I suggested to these ‘leaders’ that the next question might be along the lines of “What do YOU think might work better for YOU and your team?”  I would suggest by now that the person is an inch taller (or at least 2 centimetre’s). They are thinking ‘Wow, they are actually interested in my opinion’, and can’t wait to tell all their mates that today something special happened and this organisation actually cares about me!

Before you lose the impetus (and the person grows too tall) go one step further and say,

“Why don’t you get together with your team and let me know what you need and how much you need and go and order it”. Now that’s empowering and engaging and all the good stuff that goes with it and it’s actually not a hard thing to do. What you will get is a team of people who are probably more productive because they have the right tools, are motivated because you’ve engaged with them and will tell their mates that “This organisation isn’t that bad “and that is praise indeed!

By Kevin Hard

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