tackle motivation
January 23, 2021

Data leader, it’s time for you to tackle motivation

By Paul Laughlin

Continuing out theme focussing on motivation this month, I’ve been scouring the web for helpful posts that tackle motivation. I’ve also been realising how important this topic is each time I talk to leaders who are feeling tired, pressurised & wondering if they are alone in feeling a growing apathy.

Since starting with sharing my book review of “Man’s search for meaning”, I’ve been reflecting on what helps leaders & their teams maintain motivation. Tony shared on the need to consider the role of hormones & William got us reflecting on our potential journey to Mastery.

What has struck me most has been how many dimensions or perspectives there are on this topic. Like when we focussed on effective feedback, it seems hearing from a diversity of voices on the topic may well help. So, I hope this curation helps you continue to build your own motivation & that of your data team amidst these challenging times.

Finding your motivation as a leader

The first step, as so often with leadership, is to look to yourself first. From my experience (both as a leader & mentoring others) leaders who have not addressed their own motivation will fail to motivate their teams.

Of course, for leaders & the people in their teams, this can be easier said than done, especially during lockdowns. Prolonged time feeling trapped at home can make it difficult to sustain motivation. Add to that extra challenges like homeschooling, shared spaces not designed for home working, worries about family members & you get the picture.

For that reason, I suggest leaders read this blog post on Nir Eyal’s blog. I’ve previously shared how helpful Nir’s thinking can be, in my book review of Indistractable“. This guest blog post by Cheryl Maguire explores why we struggle & the neuroscience of motivation. She goes on to share practical tips for boring tasks, homeschooling & well being – how to find motivation for all of them. A great start for any leader.

How to Finally Find the Motivation You’ve Been Missing

The laundry hamper was overflowing with dirty clothes. Lacking the motivation to throw it into the wash, I pushed the clothes down deeper into the bin so I could fit more clothes. This occurs almost every other day.

Tackle motivation through a team culture to sustain it

Motivating your team is far from being a once & done activity. As well as finding your own motivation, it’s important to develop a culture that supports motivating your team. This is so much more than occasionally communicating a compelling vision.

This article from Industry Week helpfully summarises six drivers of motivation that leaders should recognise. By doing so you can both flex your approach to help different team members who have a bias towards different drivers.

I hope reading this post also helps spur leaders on towards thinking about how such drivers can be supported in your work culture. What would it mean in your team to enable continual learning for those motivated by the Theoretical drivers? How could you give greater autonomy to those motivated by thew Individualistic driver? Why not take some time to think through how you can tackle motivation for each type of person?


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Building motivation in your team during prolonged remote working

Another consideration for data leaders is how this prolonged period of working from home has dampened motivation. Data & Analytics teams can struggle with motivation at the best of times. Too many analysts get demotivated by the mundane repetitive aspects of the job or feeling like their output is too rarely acted upon.

But during the coronavirus pandemic, other drivers of demotivation can be added to that list. Isolation, home working pressures, loss of the ‘grapevine‘ to keep up to date etc.

So, I was pleased to see this article published in HBR. It looks beyond leaders fixing the practicalities of home working teams, to how they can also address the motivation for a dispersed team. Their research reveals many practical tips, including experimentation, new metrics & establishing a weekly rhythm. See what could work for your team…

How to Keep Your Team Motivated, Remotely

In these difficult times, we’ve made a number of our coronavirus articles free for all readers. To get all of HBR’s content delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Daily Alert newsletter. Many leaders have crossed the first hurdles of moving their teams remote: ensuring colleagues have set up their tech tools, defined their processes, and permanently logged into their video conference accounts.

What will you do differently to motivate your team this year?

I hope sharing those three articles was helpful. Did any ideas from them help you see practical steps you could take to tackle motivation in your team? If so, I recommend making a note now of one thing you will do differently within the next two weeks.

Have other tactics or strategies worked for your business or your data/analytics team? If so, I’d love to hear from you. During times of crises, we need to encourage a wider data leadership community that shares best practice & ideas to help us all.

You can do it!