Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Head, Heart and Hands: Setting Up Your Team For Success

Apologies for the slow posting this month. I do have a blog post written answering all questions sent for Summit which is with Microsoft for the green light (I do not want to lose my MVP status due to a misplaced sentence) which I intend to post before the end of the month i.e. in a few days.

In the interim here is another ‘management’ post about setting up your team for success. I am also using my new Surface Pro to type this on so we will see how that goes.

Motivation Theories

I did an MBA about ten years ago and learned a bunch of ways to encourage people to do things you need them to do and set it up so they actually enjoy it. You learn how to divine what gets them out of bed in the morning and whether a dinner out with their partner or a bag of cash is going to get the best results.

Of the various theories we covered, one has stuck with me and is quite easy to use. It is Kehr’s Compensatory Model (http://www.tu-chemnitz.de/phil/psych/professuren/sozpsy/Abstracts/2004-Kehr-Motivation-Volition.pdf). The paper is quite academic so feel free to  move to the pretty picture on page 12.


The author of this paper was my lecturer which was HIS motivation for teaching it.

Essentially, people are driven by Implicit motives (what is in their heart), Explicit motives (what is in their head) and Perceived abilities (hands/what they believe they can do).

For effortless achievement (the ‘flow experience’, similar to Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of ‘the zone’), all three must be in alignment.

As an example of misalignment, alignment of Explicit and Perceived abilities means someone can do something but their heart may not be in it. An example may be giving up smoking. Our head tells us it is good for us and we certainly have the ability but if our heart is not in it, it simply will not happen without a lot of willpower (volition).


Using The Model

How I use this model is in one-on-one meetings. By discussing what gives people passion (heart), where they want to go with their career (head) and whether they have the tools to do their job (hands) identifies what is blocking them from doing the best job they can.

To be honest it feels a little weird being in a small room and trying to pry the innermost thoughts of my team out in the open but using a model like this adds a level of formalism which makes it easier.

Addressing the Gaps

Let us say the person has passion (heart) and they are heading where they want to go in their career (head) but their skills are not quite up to scratch or they do not have access to the information they need (hands). This is addressed with things like training, mentoring or setting up better information systems.

If the heart is lacking i.e. their career is on track and they have the tools they need but they are going through the motions, perhaps a better understanding of their needs is required, perhaps there needs to be more fun in the workplace or perhaps they have fears which need to be addressed.

If the head is lacking i.e. they love their work and they have the tools they need but they lack direction, this can be addressed by giving them a vision to work towards, setting clear goals or removing goal conflicts.


If you are managing a team and have one-on-ones with them (perhaps it is the annual appraisal), Kehr’s model provides a useful framework for starting a conversation about what is working well and, more importantly, what is in the way. It also then gives guidance on how to address these problems. Unlike other models it is also easy to explain so your team understand the framework and appreciate what you are trying to do. Good luck.

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