Maintaining Motivation Inside of Innovation: An Investigation and Invitation

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Photo by Peter Fogden on Unsplash

A different kind of post today. I am interested in investigating how it is that teams continue to stay motivated, at the individual, and team level, during times of great change and innovation. Have you ever made this consideration? Yes, no? Here is how I began to consider the topic.

COVID-19 has created contexts in teams, businesses, and organizations that have required great strides in innovation. Innovation that is continuous. Every day. Making choices about how to continue to pivot your business model, to keep up the momentum, stay relevant, and remain sustainable. We’ve been inside such a context, much, I’m sure, like you have.

Then about two weeks ago, we had a team assignment connected to the department’s disruption BHAG, which I wrote about in, One BHAG, Two BHAG, and Creating a Disruption Vision . The assignment was to create our top three priorities for July. Why only July? Because, as was aforementioned, the amount, scale, and speed of change right now is so great, creating priorities for more than 30-days seems unreasonable.

During that time, one of our team members asked this question.

How do you maintain motivation inside of innovation? A wonderful question.

It is inside of this question that we will do two things.

  1. Investigate how to continue to create motivation, inside of vast amounts of change and innovation.
  2. Invite you to respond with your thoughts, ideas, and best practices.

We have, then, an investigation, and an invitation. Ready? Let’s go.

First, I have questions. Here are a few that will guide our investigation.

  1. Where does individual motivation come from?
  2. Where does the team’s motivation come from?
  3. What does the larger institution, organization, or business have to do with individual and team motivation, and morale?
  4. What strategies can leaders deploy to ensure that each individual team member and the team as a whole stays motivated during great change?
  5. What is the responsibility of each individual team member when considering motivation inside of innovation?

Though many people look for motivation in things that live outside of themselves, motivation actually comes from within. You become motivated by doing things. For instance, if you want to become more organized or organized differently, you must try new things. Put a new system in place, and practice it. If it works, awesome, if not, try something new.

When we actually practice that which we want to become better at, motivation will arise inside of that practice. In this example, becoming more organized happens as we practice and learn about how to better organize ourselves.

From a psychological perspective, each individual contributes their individual motivation to the collective team. And, from a sociological perspective, the collective team motivation is an output of those individual motivations. The leader of that team must then direct both the individual and team motivation toward the vision, goals, objectives, and priorities.

However, I think it important to remember that when priorities change often inside of creating new business models and learning about new ways to do business, motivation can become precarious. Not necessarily because people are unmotivated, though that is also possible. More, I think it has something to do with just how much work it takes to continue to pivot your business. Again, and again.

For me, the answer to this question is rather simple. Whether it happens or not, may not be as simple. All people that work within an organization need to understand, have access to, and be able to connect their individual work to the larger institutional vision. Important.

When these connections can be made, there is more cohesion, and the possibility of motivation remaining higher. We must also remember, however, that there will be varying levels of motivation inside of the institution, organization, or business, dependent on how each team leads their work. There will be differences.

These differences can affect motivation and morale when people cannot see themselves inside of the vision. When creating new visions during times of great change and innovation, these visions should connect to the larger vision. Also important, people need to see themselves inside of these visions.

Difficult, as leaders may also be struggling with their own motivation during times of great change. Yet, there are things leaders can do for themselves, and their teams to keep motivation present for people. All the while recognizing that there will be times when people are unmotivated. That is also okay. It’s part of the human process.

What things can you do to stay motivated, and to keep the team motivated.

  • Create a new vision — when things are changing on such a vast scale, creating new ways to conceptualize your work is critical. If people continue to do their work just like they did before, which may not work, motivation may remain elusive.
  • Be flexible — flexibility goes hand in hand with adaptability. You must be flexible to adapt to changing situations, no matter how small or large they are. Be open.
  • Listen — understanding how each person is doing on the team is very important. And, you must listen well to really know how they are doing. You need to create individual time with people, and listen.
  • Provide feedback — honest and direct feedback is helpful. We all need to know that we are heading in the right direction, and when we are not, to be guided back. If you lead teams, your team can also do that for you. Important to have that reciprocal relationship.

5. What is the responsibility of each individual team member when considering motivation inside of innovation?

There is really only one thing I want to write about in this area; and that is about Communication. Communicating with each other often by telling each other how things are going, where changes or adjustments are needed, when we are feeling unmotivated, or especially motivated is extremely important. I cannot overstate this fact.

When there are communication breakdowns, people have limited sight on what is happening and understanding of what is known. And, when there are limitations on what people know, people will fill in that gap with what they believe is happening.

Typically, however, the stories that are generated to fill these gaps are incomplete. And, they are only so, because people don’t have all of the information they need.

Communication is one of the most important principles to practice at any time on a team; and now, during COVID-19, it is even more important. Staying connected, and in good communication with your team is essential to maintaining motivation inside of innovation.

Closing

Alright, there is an investigation into motivation inside of innovation. I believe that the investigation has yielded a few possible insights, so let’s capture them again here.

  1. Motivation comes from within ourselves — motivation does not live inside of concepts or objects in the outside world.
  2. The team’s motivation is individual and collective — team motivation comes from each individual’s contribution and the teams combined motivation, which are guided by the leader.
  3. Motivation, vision, and morale — individuals must be able to see themselves inside of the overall vision, and visions need to be connected. Remember also, motivation will go up and down, and that is okay.
  4. Leadership strategies — create a new vision, be flexible, listen well, and provide feedback.
  5. Responsibility and motivation — communicate, communicate, communicate. Important.

Now for the fun part.

My invitation

I am inviting each of you to contribute to this post. I would like to know from your perspective, how do you, or how do you plan to maintain motivation inside of innovation. You can use the questions that were used to guide this post, or you can use the ones that follow.

  • What strategies do you use to maintain motivation for yourself and your team?
  • What strategies have worked well in maintaining motivation on your team?
  • What other strategies have you not yet tried that you plan to implement soon to increase motivation for yourself and your team?
  • What strategies did not work as well, and why?
  • What other insights do you have to share about motivation and innovation?

Okay, there we have it. An investigation and invitation in how to maintain motivation inside of innovation. Was fun.

Originally published on servantleadershipcoaching.com

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Interests include personal and professional development, increasing access to higher education, and finding new ways to create inspiration and equity.

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