- Supervisors & managers
- Leadership development for principal investigators
- Managing people
Many of you, in your efforts to attract funding, offer to do a lot with very little.
This means that you need both the individuals and your team to be well-motivated. We refer to both individuals and team because it is possible for people to be motivated individually without being motivated as team members. So, once again, you have the interaction between individual and team to consider.
Motivation is also highlighted because, from experience of coaching and action learning, it is one of the issues that is most frequently raised by research leaders. You have a vision of where you want to take your team; can you motivate them to follow?
There's a huge literature on motivation, and some of this is picked up on in other sections. The following simplified diagram presents two of the most widely-used models of motivation.
The idea is that basic needs (at the bottom of the pyramid) need to be met, but that these are not what really motivate us. There are differences between the two models, of course, but what they both highlight is the importance of social factors, status and personal fulfilment. You, as the leader of a team, have considerable power over the social relationships within the team, over recognition and status, and over the possibilities of personal fulfilment. To learn more about Herzberg's theories on motivation, visit the motivation in theory page.
What the models don't tell you, however, is what will deliver self-actualisation or fulfilment; this requires you to know what motivates the particular individual. Part of the difficulty here is that they may not know. Ask yourself the question, "What motivates me?" and you may not find it that easy to answer.
A useful tool for thinking about this is the E, O, A sequence:
- Empathise - try to get into their shoes. If you were them, what would motivate you?
- Observe - what does their behaviour tell you about what motivates them?
- Ask - ask them what motivates them. But this needs a serious discussion and one when they feel that your question is driven by a genuine concern about their development.
It's also worth mentioning MacGregor's Theory X and Theory Y model. The idea behind this model is that managers can have very different views of how their staff behave and will treat them accordingly. Theory X managers might act in an authoritarian way and treat people as if they are lazy and work-shy, causing them to be lazy and work-shy. Theory Y managers, on the other hand, might act in a participative way and treat people as responsible and creative, producing responsible and creative individuals.
This links interestingly to a coaching style of management. In this approach managers see their role as helping their team members to work out for themselves what needs to be done, rather than just telling them. There's more on coaching and mentoring in the individuals section.
Comment on this page.