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Creating Team 'Psychological Safety' using a simple Model of Motivation.

I developed the 'Diamond-Motivation' model many years ago after studying numerous theories of motivation as well as being fortunate enough to work on team development programmes with professional sports teams. There are numerous motivational theories about and being a straight-forward kind of guy I found many of them of them not exactly practical for a manager to use in their everyday dealings with the team. So I set out to simply and 'demystify' motivation in terms of how managers could create an environment in their teams that would enable their team members to be motivated on an everyday basis.

Now there are numerous personal 'motivators' and we are all different as human beings, but what I found was that there were four key 'everyday' motivators that apply to each and everyone of us and if any one (or more) of these motivators are directly affected negatively it can have a huge impact on our everyday workplace motivation. I also strongly believe that if a manager can ensure that the environment in their team is such that the four motivators are worked on positively then they can ensure 'psychological safety' in their team and hence also increase the levels of resilience and performance in their teams. The four areas of motivation are:

Clarity and Understanding:

It is vital for any team member to have clarity in what their role is and what their performance measures and targets are. Without this clarity the team member will be confused and de-motivated. Team Managers should always ensure that team members have 100% clarity in the following areas, 100% of the time!

□ Clear and concise description of their role and responsibilities within the team.

□ Individual SMART objectives

□ Clarity in relation to how best they are going to achieve the objectives and what support is available from the team manager.

□ An excellent understanding of company and team goals and how their objectives link to the overall aims and goals of the team.

□ A full knowledge and understanding of company procedures and policies.

□ A full understanding and commitment to the team contract.

□ An understanding of how best the Team manager: Team member relationship is going to work for both parties.

Expressing Opinions, Hopes, Fears, ideas and Concerns:

The second aspect to ‘Diamond Motivation™’ is that humans need to express themselves. If they are dictated to, then, not only do they feel under-valued, they feel frustrated and demotivated in that they may not be offered the opportunity to outline their hopes, ideas and concerns.

Team Managers should always ensure open two-way communication and be excellent listeners. A healthy balance of being directive and of ‘playing the coach’ should be aimed for so that the correct developmental approach is taken at the right time and situation. Taking a coaching approach will ensure that employees are given opportunity to convey their feelings, hopes, concerns and ideas and team managers should always attempt to ensure that situations are created where employee views are aired and heard. Simply being the ‘directive’ team manager is fraught with danger in that this approach can severely restrict and impact negatively this aspect of ‘Diamond Motivation™’

Having a Choice in Decisions:

People have to be in a position to make choices. Some people need a lot of scope in this area; others only a little. But choices must be offered and created and the best way to do this is for the team manager to coach effectively whereby the team member comes up with their own solutions and ways to implement the solution. Simply telling team members what to do and how to do it can have little effect, apart from perhaps, a negative effect.

Team Managers should also look to create focus groups of problem-solving groups to enable team members to look closely at workplace challenges and come up with their own recommendations. This can go some way to satisfying the human need to have choice.

Feeling Valued and Recognised:

There are some extremely simple ways to make someone feel valued. It is as simple as saying ‘thank you and ‘well done’. It is also very powerful to simply listen and understand someone and this process alone is a sure way of making someone feel valued. And so, it is with team members. Listen to them, understand their needs, support them to make decisions (in and thank them for their effort and expertise in the workplace. Simple.

Why is it that so many team managers severely limit praise but immediately focus in on mistakes? This has to change if we are to be in a position to make full use of ‘Diamond Motivation™’

Get these four key areas of motivation right and you will build 'psychological safety' in your team as well as ensuring that all the team are individually motivated. Of course there are other , more tangible, motivators like money and role status but if you don't the get the 'foundation' motivators right then 'psychological safety' will be hard to achieve. The result could be that the team overall may have a lower resilience than is required in order for the team to hit its goals and be 'future-proofed' for future challenges and change.

I have developed a team resilience development programme entitled 'Resilient PARTNERS' which will support development of your team to high performance. You can find out more about this programme here:

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