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Adaptive Workforce Motivation

I was recently approached by a group that wanted to get my thoughts on a number of team leadership issues. One of the questions seemed odd to me – it was phrased something like “Describe a time when you felt you had to (or successfully) motivated your team.” The reason this seemed odd to me was I feel like I do it all the time.

The question that you should be asking yourself as a leader is, “What motivates people?”  But don’t ask it so generally unless you’re just looking for a pool of potential answers. Motivation is different from person to person, and as a leader you need to be adept at identifying an individual’s motivators and adapting your technique to individualize rewards.

Appreciation is a remarkably simple motivator, yet it’s one that I have often felt lacking in many environments. It turns out that my gut instinct was right. A recent from Tony Schwartz, Why Appreciation Matters So Much on the HBR blog network, notes that

The single highest driver of engagement, according to a worldwide study conducted by Towers Watson, is whether or not workers feel their managers are genuinely interested in their wellbeing. Less than 40 percent of workers felt so engaged.

Appreciation costs nothing, and when it is genuine, it is noticed. Tony goes on to discuss some reasons as to why appreciation is not shown more. One that I think is overlooked is that it makes the leader feel vulnerable. To show appreciation is to indicate that one could not do it alone. While this is a pretty standard truth, actually saying it may make one feel like their ego has been dinged. Whatever the case, most of us can’t go it alone, and appreciation should be a key piece of one’s toolkit when leading and motivating teams.

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2012 Georgia Cup Resolution Run Race Report

Happy New Year!

This year started the same way that 5 others in recent memory have, with a 10k run under the moniker of New Year’s Resolutions. This event was a Georgia Cup series event, and I believe was the first year of its running. I have competed in the Atlanta Track Club Resolution Run a number of times, but found myself on the wrong side of a registration deadline. What was once a no-frills, $5 race is now an event that requires pre-registration (and $30!) several days in advance. So, I found myself racing closer to home in Norcross today.

It certainly did not feel like January 1st in Atlanta. The temperature was in the 50’s when I awoke and warmed up to around 60 under cloudy skies. Following the event, the sky opened up and then the winds came in. But as far as the race was concerned, the weather could not have been better. I raced in shorts and a short sleeve shirt and worked up quite a sweat on the hilly course.

The race was run well. I initially questioned the presence of merely 2 port-a-johns, but the line was never horrendous as only a couple of hundred folks were racing. The course itself was well marked and meandered through Technology Park. Police and/or volunteers were at intersections and the turn around points and kept us safe from what little traffic there was. There were plenty of water stops to keep runners hydrated. Sports drink would have been nice on the course or at the finish, but this is really my only complaint and it’s a minor one. The finish line festivities had more water, pretzels, bananas, Oreos, etc. – the usual fare. Results were quickly posted and traffic seemed to be a non-issue.

Here’s a look at the course for those of you who are interested. It is different than the one posted on the Georgia Cup site. In fact, it felt shorter (and my Garmin measured shorter) than a 10k. We’ll have to wait and see whether there is any official word on course length. No big deal either way – everyone ran the same course, it’d just be nice to know.

In all, it was a great day and felt really great to put on a number and run after nearly 6 months without doing so.  My final time was just over 54 minutes, and I came in 4th in my age group. My next race is likely another 10k in early February. I need to set another qualifying time for the Peachtree.

Happy running, folks!

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