Have you ever sat in your office wondering how on earth you can cope with it all? Most of us have felt buried by work at some time or another. There is so much going on, so much information coming at us and so much to do, that it’s often hard to know where to start.The temptation is not to do anything. To turn off. To disengage.In fact, recent research by Josh Bersin of Deloitte attributes low employee engagement levels to the overwhelmed employee.Removing all the distractions and noise isn’t possible. What is possible, however, is to help your employees understand how they prefer to think. This can give you valuable clues about what will motivate and engage them.
The way people think
The way people think and process information affects not just how they go about their work but also the kind of work that stimulates them and the kind of conditions they work best in. When you understand how your employees think, you’ll have a better understanding of what they need to feel fulfilled, engaged and motivated to give it their all, even when the pressure’s on.
Four thinking preferences
Here’s a look at what each of the four thinking preferences of the Whole Brain® Model needs and how you can begin to unleash the inner motivation of different thinkers on your team.
Needs accuracy, data, clarity of purpose, and logical and rational basis for doing something.
Ideas for unleashing inner motivation in the A quadrant:
Ask for input on breaking down and solving complex challenges.
Focus on the bottom-line impact of decisions, backed up by facts.
Allow opportunities for thinking critically and taking decisive action, and provide access to necessary data, technology, research, and tools.
Be clear about goals, accountabilities, and purpose.
Needs order, structure, safety, rules, details, well-articulated plans, and consistency.
Ideas for unleashing inner motivation in the B quadrant:
Ask for input on how to implement and execute on critical strategies amid chaos or tight deadlines.
Focus on the ethics, risk management and quality impact of decisions.
Allow opportunities for self-management and singularity of focus.
Be clear about agendas, timeframes, and expectations.
Needs to “talk it out,” collaborate, express ideas, teach others, and understand the human impact.
Ideas for unleashing inner motivation in the C quadrant:
Ask for input on improving trust, relationships and customer value.
Focus on values and the human impact of decisions.
Allow opportunities for connection and collaboration (e.g, video-enabled virtual meetings, communication tools like Slack, etc) — especially important for those working virtually.
Check in regularly and ask for feedback/”pulse checks.”
Needs flexibility, simultaneity, creativity, non-structured environments, opportunities to experiment and take risks, and an understanding of the big picture
Ideas for unleashing inner motivation in the D quadrant:
Ask for input on ways to challenge the status quo and come up with breakthrough solutions.
Focus on context and long-term, strategic impacts of decisions.
Allow opportunities for thinking creatively, trying out lots of different ideas and learning from failures, and provide the freedom to experiment.
Use metaphors and “paint a picture” of your vision of the future.
No matter how someone prefers to think, each of us becomes more motivated when we’re able to spend more time on the work that most stimulates us and when we have a say over how that work gets done. If you’d like to leverage your team’s diversity of thinking to help them overcome issues with motivation, engagement and productivity, enquire about our ThinkAbout™ Teams workshop. We’ll help you unlock your team’s full potential with Whole Brain® Thinking.This article was originally published in 2016. It has been updated in 2020 and republished to ensure our readers don’t miss out on valuable information.