There is no way to make someone shift to a more optimal motivational outlook, but leaders can help get their employees on the right track by havingmotivationaloutlook conversations. These conversations are useful when a situation is negatively affecting a person or when his or her outlook is having a negative effect on the team or organization. They are also important when a leader sees potential in someone and wants to develop it, wants to offer a person support, or is stressed or afraid to deal with a situation that is draining his or her own energy.
Motivational outlook conversations will not be successful if leaders are trying to problem solve, are imposing their personal values, or are expecting a shift in outlook to occur as a result of the conversations. Leaders should never take the tone of, “I’ve been where you have and know how to solve your problem,” assume that the person shares the same values, or become exasperated if the person does not immediately make a shift.
There are three core parts of making outlook conversations successful:
1. Prepare: The most important part of the process is for leaders to shift their motivational outlooks about conversations prior to starting them. This requires examining their own sense of well-being and thinking about how they can link their values to their conversations. Conversations should begin from a place of mindfulness and nonjudgment.
2. Trust the process: Leaders must then allow the process to take its own course and follow the three skills for activating optimal motivation. They should ask permission from others to explore their current motivational outlooks and feelings around the task, goal, or situation. They should also listen for cues in body language, spoken language (e.g., “I have to” versus “I get to”), and signals regarding if their psychological needs are being met or how well they are self-regulating. Next, they should present the Spectrum of Motivation model and explore the implications of shifting to a different motivational outlook and how to use the MVPs. For instance, leaders can help their employees practice mindfulness by asking permission to use the Power of Why technique; this involves asking them a series of “why?” questions to help uncover the real reasons behind their suboptimal outlooks.
3. Reflect and close: Leaders should then ask employees if they will commit to a particular motivational outlook or if they will continue examining and identifying where they are. Demonstrating ongoing support builds a sense of relatedness, and discussing strategies they can use for self-regulation can help develop a sense of competence. It is important that leaders also reflect on outlook conversations after they are over. Do they feel drained or energized? Did they struggle to remain nonjudgmental?
It can be particularly difficult for leaders to let the outlook conversation process unfold without problem solving, but when leaders trust the process they will find that it has much better outcomes than typical problem-solving meetings.