Centre for Integral Transformation  


Motivational Alignment


Positive Values Alignment

You would think that having finally understood the importance of people in business, and then the importance of culture, and then values, that that would be it. But no, there’s more to it than that. It is quite possible, in fact it is highly likely, that even with a team who have worked to align their values, they may still have conflicts and not be fully motivated.

The reason for this is that an individual’s motivation can be either ‘towards’ the positive or ‘away from’ the negative, or more likely some combination of both, as shown below.


This may be better explained by a real experience from the sports world where I was asked to help the mental game of a young badminton player who did not seem to be fulfilling what was considered to be her potential. After talking about what happened in tournaments a pattern emerged which was that when playing someone of her standard or higher she did not really start trying until she was down a few points. At a club level this is OK, but when aiming at national and international standards you cannot afford to lose several points before becoming motivated. This is a classic example of someone with ‘away from’ motivation, it is only when facing defeat that that the real ‘game’ begins, but all too often by then it can be too late. Once this motivation had been changed to a ‘towards’ direction over time she then rapidly improved and is now world ranked.

Since most of us have elements of ‘away from’ and ‘towards’ motivation it is almost certain that there will be members of any given team who are looking at their common values differently. Let’s take a very simple example – “profit”; now some will see profit as totally positive, something that enables the organisation to grow and invest in new ventures, its people, the community and so on. On the other hand you could look at profit as being necessary in order to keep your job, keep a roof over your families head, stop from going bankrupt, etc. Both these ‘values’ are about profit but they are very different from each other.

If it were simply that some people saw their values differently than others than, whilst not ideal, it would not be a real ‘big issue’. The problem is that along with ‘away from’ motivation comes fault finding and defensiveness. Now ‘fault finding’ is all very well if you are doing an audit, a safety check, quality control and the such like, but is typically not an ideal perspective from which to share a common view. Add to this the defensiveness and you have a recipe for potential conflict and may find that a great deal of good work goes out of the window.

Do you need to worry about this or do anything? Well, going back to the badminton player to you want to play at a local club level or as an international? On the assumption that ‘club players’ would have stopped reading by now, I will continue. One way to become more aligned as a team is to discuss your views and attitudes, to explore the different point of view towards your specific values. Whilst this will not overcome the inherent differences it will lead to a greater understanding of the differing perspectives.

Over time it is possible to work with coaches, mentors and counsellors to more closely align your team. As you can imagine this is a potentially expensive process and is therefore usually performed with the board or leadership team, another example would be to work with a team with a crucial role such as those running a very important programme of change. Yet another alternative, and one which is being used, is for organisations to grow their own in-house capability over time and therefore be able to cover all their staff. Imagine the power of a fully aligned, positive organisation!

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