Relationships at Work - the Employee Experience and Workplace Culture Podcast

Motivating Employees at Work with Will Mahon

March 20, 2022 Russel Lolacher Episode 12
Relationships at Work - the Employee Experience and Workplace Culture Podcast
Motivating Employees at Work with Will Mahon
Show Notes Transcript

In episode 12 of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with training and people developer Will Mahon, on the importance of motivation - the different motivational styles of your employees, the benefits to the organization and how as a leader or colleague you can work to connect and motivate others.

Will shares his experience with...

  • How motivation has changed in the workplace
  • The seven motivational styles to better understand and motivate your organization
  • The steps to start motivating staff
  • Where leaders get it wrong when trying to motivate employees
  • What happens to an organization that doesn't have motivated staff

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Russel Lolacher
You’re listening to the podcast right this very second. And with me, well, virtually he’s not in the room. That’d be creepy. I think at this point, it’s Will Mahon and here’s why he’s awesome. He’s a training nerd. I didn’t come up with that he freakin put it on his LinkedIn profile. What does that actually mean? Well, he’s currently the senior training manager at index exchange and has been in training and people development roles since 2006. Or at least that’s as long as his LinkedIn profile goes back to could be earlier. I don’t know it’s not documented. I love this quote that I read about him. It said, we’ll build and lead a workshop with their team to improve awareness and appreciation of different motivations. That training led them to have daily conversations that they are then building off of this is from a former colleague. So when people say nice things about how you train that’s That’s swell. And here’s what I love about LinkedIn is you can find things like what are his influences? Oh, I looked, yours are Jennifer Lopez, LeVar. Burton, and Jessica Alba that is in there. Of course, you’ve got about 20 or 30 that are a little bit more like, oh, yeah, that makes sense. But when I saw Jennifer Lopez, LeVar Burton, I’m like, oh, yeah, Reading Rainbow is his influence. I’m all over that. Welcome to the show. Will?

Will Mahon
Thank you so much, I, I need an introduction like that. Everywhere I go. I’m pumped up.

Russel Lolacher
I’m just like your audio hype man, you just walk around, and I’ll just be like, Hey, he’s awesome. Here he goes, he’s entering the room.

Will Mahon
Thanks for having me.

Russel Lolacher
Oh, no worries. Today, it’s all about motivating employees. So here I am motivating you to talk to us about it. How’s that? Look at that we tie it in? Why don’t we talk about first, about the importance of motivating employees? Why is that important in an organization?

Will Mahon
You know, I think, motivation, and engagement. They’re foundational to everything, right? Motivation drives a lot. It drives employee retention, it drives feedback. I think it’s underestimated how much employee motivation, engagement, actually drives business results and everything that goes into making business profitable. So that’s my belief, I think, really foundationally every leader should put additional focus on motivation and engagement, that should be top priority for every leader, and everything else should be secondary to that. As an organization, how can I create an optimally motivating environment for everyone in my employees? Because I’ll tell you, you know, wrestle, what motivates you is likely very different than what motivates me, and is very different than what motivates the person who’s listening to this podcast right now. Typically, it’s easy to have a one size fits all approach to trying to drive motivation and engagement. You know, here’s our mission, here’s our values, here’s who we are, get on board. And that’s great. That works. If you and I are motivated by the same thing. But if we’re not motivated by the same thing, then there’s an immediate disconnect. There’s an immediate dismay, I think we’ve all had those conversations where somebody tries to motivate us. And it’s just not resonating. Like I can feel it is fallen on deaf ears, whether you’re the person trying to do the motivating, or the person on the receiving end, and you’re like, you know, what? Not buying what you’re selling, right? And so so the idea is, how can I understand what motivates each person on my team, if I’m a leader, and then what are the things that I can do to create an optimally motivating environment for each person on my team, and that looks and feels different. And it starts with there not being a one size fits all approach to how we engage with our people.

Russel Lolacher
So speaking of one size fits all, you know, there’s somebody listening to this goes, but I pay them, that should be motivation enough. It’s 1954 in their head, in that sense, what do you say to somebody like that?

Will Mahon
That’s part of it. You know, there are people who, who come to work and are really driven by money, right? We all need a job, we all need to pay the bills, we all need to put food on the table, you know, put the kids in school, things like that. That is not a motivation as much as it is a foundational need. So I think I think there’s a really big difference between what I need to survive. It’s perhaps a bit closed minded to think that there aren’t 100 other people who can also pay me and pay my employees. So I think it’s a bit of a difference between here’s foundation foundational need versus here’s what creates a really exciting motivating environment where the people who come to work every day, who drive the business, Excel, have fun, share the good word with their friends and colleagues on social media just, you know, having conversations with their friends, and you can really help to expand the business in terms of reputation in terms of profit in terms of how other people see it in terms of better retention, which is cost savings in and of itself.

Russel Lolacher
So what are the ingredients to motivating an employee? Whether you’re their leader or whether you’re a fellow employee or a colleague?

Will Mahon
Yeah. Alright, so may give you a disclaimer, here’s my disclaimer there, there are going to be people who are listening, who are going to roll their eyes at what I’m about to say right now. But I stand by it. I stand by it. Here’s the part you might roll your eyes at. I heard this years ago, I heard this about 10 years ago. It’s always stuck with me. Before her talk show ended, Oprah was asked how do you engage with people, you know, you were the queen of daytime television, you’ve built an empire, you’ve gone from a local news woman to this billionaire that everybody knows you’ve been on the air for 25 years. And you have the ability to connect with people in a way that others don’t? How do you do it? And she said, she said, there are three things that every single one of my guests, whether you’re a celebrity, or whether you’re somebody that nobody’s ever met before, there are three things that you need, as the person who’s leading this interview, you know, if I’m a leader in a business, I need to know that you see me and need to know that you hear me. And I need to know that when I speak that what I say matters. I love that. So a QA role for half of your years.

Russel Lolacher
Oh, no, no, no, no, I think there’s the the human side of it is essential. It’s not one sided. Anybody that’s in any organization needs to feel like they matter, and that they’re a human being in that organization, as opposed to a position on a wall. So no, I think that resonates huge with a lot of people.

Will Mahon
Yeah, you know, what’s really interesting about that, to Russel is, this is Oprah who interviewed Of course, celebrities, right? But a lot of people who aren’t celebrities. And in those three pieces, none of those three items were about her. And you know, that my guest sees is seen is heard that they feel when they talk to me what they say matters. So none of it was really about her, it was all about her guests, and how she can create that environment where people would feel open, where people felt comfortable to have these engaging conversations and be vulnerable, and be open and honest and have psychological safety. That’s, I think that’s really true. And that led to her success. And they think a parallel can be made between what she did and does so successfully, and how we interact with each other in the workplace, how we create that environment of trust and psychological safety with everybody that we interact with by following those same principles. And it starts with focusing on them versus on us.

Russel Lolacher
So you have different types of people. And you definitely brought that up that it’s a personalization thing. Because maybe money is my motivator, even though it is, you know, baseline maybe it’s to make a difference, whatever the hell that means. Because it’s different for everybody. There’s another personalization thing. Are there different types of motivation for different types of people? Like would you theme them differently?

Will Mahon
Yeah, great question. I. So I’m a big believer in there. There has been research I’m in addition to being a training nerd. I’m also a psychology nerd. There’s a framework that was started over 100 years ago, gentlemen, Edward Spranger. He’s a German philosopher, did a lot of research. He determined that there are seven main types of motivators. And for some of us, there are positive motivators. For some of us, these can be demotivators. And so I’ll share with you the seven here, first power, right, I’m motivated, I’m driven by power, status, impact control, influence, and if I’m at work, I’m that person who wants to earn a promotion, I want more scope and responsibility, I, perhaps what my responsibilities outweigh my job title. And that’s pretty easy to spot. You know, if I recognize somebody who is motivated by power, you know, if I’m leading them, if I’m a colleague, they’re really specific things that I can do stretch assignments, competition, you know, things like that, to create a motivating environment that they’re going to thrive in. If I put this person in an environment where it’s the status quo, they’re going to flounder, they’re going to be demotivated. The second one is it’s called economic money, right? Economic means money, but really what it means is return on investment. And this is actually the most common motivator in the world of the seven. This has been determined to be the the most common and economic really says, return on investment. If I give you my time, my energy, my effort, my talent, what do I get back? It can be money, right? It can be a paycheck, it can be a raise so I can get a bigger paycheck. Check. It can also be things like a pat on the back, feedback, recognition, spotlight, you know, what are? So what are the things if I recognize that somebody is really driven by return on investment, by the way, a lot of sales people are driven by this motivator. Because, you know, if I make X amount of cold calls, I’ll book X amount of meetings, which means I’ll get X amount of commission, right? So that’s part of the reason why a lot of folks in sales are driven by this motivator, and they’re driven to that career. So what are the things that I can do to make sure that the folks around me know that there’s a return on investment, you know, that they their time, their energy, their efforts, they get something in return set, like what’s in it for me mentality and approach. The third, which is also really, really common is called theoretical. And this is, for me, it’s important that I understand the facts, the data, I’m a problem solver, I want to discover the truth and learn and continuous learning, even if it’s something that I’m not going to apply immediately. It’s important for me that I know as much as I can about the situation, my environment, and the more that I know, the better I can do, the better environment I can create for myself, the more facts and information I have. So those are the folks where I am not somebody Russel, who is high in that motivator, right? I’m kind of a fill in the blanks kind of guy. But I know if I’m working with folks, and if I can identify that they’re really data centric, I’ve got to stretch myself, I’ve got to meet them in the middle, so that they get what they need from their interactions with me, whether I’m their people leader, whether it’s a colleague, whether it’s a friend, you know, how can I stretch my my communication style, so that they feel comfortable engaging with me. The next one is called regulatory. And this is its focuses on things like, it’s important to me that I have rules, processes, guidelines, structure principles in place. And if I know that there’s guardrails that I can work within, if there’s rules that I can follow, then I’ll feel comfortable, I’ll feel like I can, I can constrain my swim lane I can be really efficient, I can be really effective. Perhaps I don’t do great with grey space, you know, maybe I’m less comfortable with experimentation thinking outside the box that may be demotivating. To me, so how can I create an environment where there are structures, processes in place, you know, standard operating procedures? I think you mentioned this at the top is altruism. So there’s a lot of people who are driven by, I want to invest my time, my energy, my effort, my talents, to help other people. And that can be like, you know, there’s a lot of folks in learning and development who are motivated by this. But there are also folks from all across the board. I’ve met folks who are sea level executives, and you might think you’re influenced by power, and they say, No, I want to help people. I want to help people grow, you know, people may misinterpret or assume that I’m motivated by power, but I’m gonna help people, salespeople, you know, they’re not always like driven by that ROI. Maybe you just want to help my clients. And this is how I do that. And so people will tell you that they’re driven by like support and self selflessness and compassion and generosity, altruistic motivations. And that’s something that that spans a lot of difference. We all want that in some way, right? But that spans all different fields of work, the desire to help other people, a lot of folks who are in creative fields are driven by aesthetics. So esthetic motivator is like creativity, design. But it’s also like balance, I’m driven, maybe like by work life balance, if that’s really something that’s important to me, I’m super high in the aesthetic motivator, I manifest that by outside of work, I paint. So for me, it’s fun, because whatever I paint, whether it’s good or bad, it’s kind of the idea that it’s never existed in the world before. That’s kind of fun and cool for me, you know, I do yoga a lot. That’s like super hippie aesthetic, right? But that’s how I get those things that motivate me, I at index exchange, I lead meditation with our employees. So that’s like, highest attic motivator, and it’s not my job description. But it excites me and it motivates me. And so I try to motivate other people by the same thing. And then the last one is called individualistic, which was actually added later, it started in the 60s with like, the hippie revolution, where, you know, if you think 1950s, prior, at least in the United States, individualism wasn’t necessarily as commonplace as it is today. You know, nowadays, there’s more of a desire to be an influencer right? To be independent, have freedom to be autonomy, have autonomy be unique, blaze my own trail. So this is motivator says, you know, I’m really excited and driven to be my own person, go in my own direction, make my own path. And, you know, maybe I’m not as motivated by like, rules, tradition processes. I’m really more motivated by experimenting thinking outside of the box. So everybody will be Hi and be positively driven by some of those motivators. And people will give you clues, you know, if you’ll listen, people will tell you, they’ll also be things that you can pick up on, that will give you indication as to what D motivates people. So if I can start to, to use that as a framework and say, Alright, Russel, you know, we were the things that motivate you, why are you doing this podcast? Like, what? What is your goal? And actually, I’ll ask you, I’m gonna, I’ll flip the table and ask you that, why do you do this podcast? What’s your motivation for this?

Russel Lolacher
Pretty much power, Will.  I mean, I don’t think anything else but power. No, obviously not. I get it from who the individual one, the one near the end, but also the service one, the service one has always fuelled me and I can certainly see of all seven that I touch on a few of them, I II, compensation, you know, financial, I don’t want to be underpaid. I want it I see that as a indication of my value, but it doesn’t motivate me. So it’s, as I’m going through this and thinking it through. There are touch points. They’re all valuable in different ways to me, but motivating, like making me move to that next level making you want to learn more is that individualism, where it’s like, leave me alone, let me go watch what I can do. And the other is, I just want to help people as much as I can. And this was very much the impetus of this podcast was I was, I was talking to someone just today that I was at a conference. And it was about customer service, because that was definitely the realm that I lived in for a long time. And I was speaking on a panel and it was down in San Francisco, all fancy and stuff. But every conversation I had when I brought up the employee experience, the glazed eyes, the Oh, yeah, that’s, that’s important, too, I guess. So that sort of stuck with me and like, Oh, my God, there is such a realm of people that aren’t being served that aren’t being highlighted that aren’t being motivated. So that’s where this podcast came from, as a way of providing a platform for these conversations. So I’m thinking you got me thinking?

Will Mahon
And yeah, I just met you shortly before, you know, we started this podcast. And that came through for me loud and clear. Just in our, in our conversation beforehand. I’m like, the guy who has zoom person has a podcast titled relationships at work, right? What’s more altruistic than that, like having strong, important relationships at work? You know, here’s the thing, let’s pretend we’re in a work environment, we, we tend to try to motivate others in ways with which we’re personally motivated. So if there are things that are exciting for me, that get me up in the morning, just like you described, all of those motivators are important. So there’s a time and a place for all of them. But not every single one of them gets you out of bed. Not every single one of them gets you to say, all right, like let’s do another episode of this podcast. But what you described are the two things that are really those driving forces. And so if I’m trying to motivate you, and we’re both motivated by those same things, that desire to help other people that desire to like be our own person, experiment, think outside the box, you and I are going to connect really quickly, we’re going to hit the ground running will be likely a dynamic duo, especially in the workplace, if I’m motivated by things that you’re not motivated by, so let’s pretend I’m somebody who is driven by like, processes, rules, guidelines, procedures. That’s exciting to me, right. And so I might try to get other people excited by sharing that same mechanism. And when you and I are working together, I might understand you, I might recognize where you’re coming from. But I’m not excited, I’m not motivated, you know, I’m not going to come to work and say, This is where I want to be this is this is the right place for me. And unless you as my counterpart can recognize it, and then adapt and flex to me, I’m not going to be here very long, because there are other environments, that I feel like I can grow thrive, be myself be authentic, and that are going to be different than what you’re providing me here.

Russel Lolacher
What I noticed of the seven though, was it doesn’t touch on things like extrovert ism, and introvert ism and energy levels, because we’re also very different on that level. How does motivation touch on those because you can look at those seven, and it still doesn’t really answer that puzzle.

Will Mahon
Absolutely. One of my favorite TED Talks of all time. And so training nerd, psychology nerd, TED Talk nerd. Like big TED Talk nerd. One of my favorite TED Talks of all time, is Google it if you’ve never seen it, Susan Cain, the power of introverts, Susan Cain is a genius. Her TED talk is one of the best I’ve ever seen. There’s a lot of people who would make the assumption and say, and her TED Talk is about the story of her being a proud introvert she shares the story of that how, even as a kid, she went to summer camp. And they’re trying to promote this environment of extraversion camp, cheers camp activities. And she’s like, I just came here to read books, you know, maybe make some, some new friends low key, I don’t want to do camp cheers and things like that. And her entire TED Talk really focuses on her motivation for she’s really driven by that same individualistic motivator, maybe, and it looks and feels differently than what you described, Russel. But if you were to take a transcript of her TED Talk, and what you just shared, the words are very similar. So she talks about how, you know, while camp and by the way, modern workplaces, open office spaces, things like that promote extraversion, and glorify extraversion. She said, No, I’m a proud introvert, here’s who I am, I’m not going to conform to this environment. And a lot of people don’t equate or don’t naturally make the connection that you can be introverted, and also have this desire and motivation to like, be yourself, have freedom, autonomy, you can, you know, there might be people who might not think you can be a CEO and not be driven by power. You can I’ve met them, I’ve talked to them. So I think part of it is taking a step back, perhaps thinking about any biases that you might have towards somebody’s job level department that they work in their level of introversion and extraversion, because that actually doesn’t dictate what motivates them. People will tell you what motivates them, you, but you’ve got to engage in those conversations. And by the way, like, you’re not going to find out what motivates somebody by talking about the weather. So you’ve got to have a thoughtful conversation where people people share with you something that’s a bit more surface level. So you’ve got to dig a bit deeper to understand and recognize and identify what drives and excites people.

Russel Lolacher
You’re a learning nerd. So let’s dig into that a little bit. Yeah. Are you? How are you helping organizations or just even index exchange, motivate varying degrees of personalities and different motivators? To take learning opportunities? Looking at those seven different motivators? What are some tangible tactical things that you’ve done to connect those dots?

Will Mahon
That’s an excellent question. I think anybody who, who’s worth their weight in learning and development, will try to customize their approach to their audience, what I actively try to do and even you know, when I teach people, I try to incorporate all seven of those motivators, and everything I do, because here’s, here’s what’s going to happen, there’s going to be something that’s going to resonate with you, there’s going to be something that resonates with you. So let’s pretend alright, I’ll just hypothetically, let’s pretend I was talking to your listeners right now about why they should tune in and subscribe and listen to every episode of your podcast, right? I can say, You know what, let’s talk about power, this is gonna be the best podcast for this topic out there, right? Here’s the ROI. Here’s that economic motivator, in the 30 minutes that you take out of your day to listen to this podcast, here’s what you’re going to get in return, you’re going to get some insights and tips, some practical application that’s going to help you drive results at work. And at home. Theoretical, we’re gonna have folks from all walks of life, during this podcast, you’re going to have information that you’ve never heard before, diverse folks who are experts in their field, you’re going to get some really great information from a wide range of people. Right? This is designed to help you altruism, you know, the more you know, when you when you know better you do better, right? So we’re going to help you have better relationships, this is designed to help you the listener, be the best version of yourself and to drive positive relationships. esthetic, you know, we have a creative approach. So we might take the topic of motivation, we might talk about it in a few different episodes in a few different ways. It’s not going to be the same thing each time. So you’ll have an individualistic unique take to building relationships at work with every single episode, it won’t be the same won’t be the same flavor every time you listen to a new episode. And what am I missing regulatory, there’s guidelines processes, you know, we do the hard yards to make sure that we reach out to the, to the right people that we’re talking about the right topics that we’re talking about things that are relevant to modern workplace, you know, we do our research to make sure we’re bringing in the right folks to share this information with you. So if I were to pare that down into something that was a bit more sophisticated, you know, 45 second approach, a commercial, something is gonna resonate, right, something is gonna resonate with everybody where they go, Hmm, you know, maybe those first three points, Oh, I get it. But that fourth point that resonated with me, I’m gonna tune in. So I try to do that in the classroom or, you know, nowadays the virtual classroom is to take a topic and say, How can I approach this topic from as many lenses as possible, so that no matter who you are, there’s going to be something that You’re going to hang on to and say, Yes, I get it, that resonates with me. And that’s going to be the thing I’m going to take and run with. And so it increases my chances of making an impact. It increases the likelihood that if you’re listening to me, something is going to stand out. And hopefully it’ll it’ll reach a more diverse audience.

Russel Lolacher
You’re the height man for this podcast. I love that. I’m like, I’m writing that down. I’m using. I’m using all that, though you touch on something I was curious about when it comes to motivation. Now that you’ve moved out of the classroom, face to face and in virtually, does the approach to motivation change at all?

Will Mahon
I don’t think so. I really don’t I think people whether you’re face to face or whether it’s virtual, people are motivated intrinsically by the same things, right. So if I’m motivated by that ROI, my approach as a facilitator may change what I do in the classroom versus the virtual classroom might change. But you still want need the same thing. And so I don’t think that changes, I don’t think from that lens, it’s different, it might be a bit trickier to tell through a zoom screen, if people give you the physical nonverbal cues as to like, you know, when you have that light bulb moment, that’s a bit harder to tell over zoom than face to face. But beyond that, I really don’t change too much in terms of my like casting a wide net approach. What’s the

Russel Lolacher
flip side of this? Where do leaders get it wrong? When it comes to trying to motivate employees?

Will Mahon
Yeah. Where people get it wrong leaders and otherwise, because, you know, colleagues, and I work with stakeholders who are, you know, I’m not their supervisor, they’re not my supervisor. But you know, we’re working on a project together, and let’s be motivated. So I think, when people are focused on themselves and what they want to say, versus thinking about the other person and what they need to hear that is, sounds really simple. Perhaps I’m making this making sound oversimplified. But if I’m focusing on myself, then I’m doing a disservice to the person opposite knee wrestle. Tell your viewers if I’m lying here, in our pre interview here, you said, you asked me one question, you asked me one question. And I said, Russel, tell me what will make this the most beneficial for you and your viewers? That was the only question I asked you is, if you tell me what I need to do, then I can help you and I can help your listeners. And so I really think that is a simple question. But I think it’s something that people get wrong, because we focus on ourselves versus the person opposite us. And it’s, it’s hard to motivate somebody when I’m thinking about myself.

Russel Lolacher
So in a nutshell, you’re a liar, because you also asked if you could take your headset off, and then audio for 10 minutes that we were late recording, but yet it’s true. So what are the impacts? You see, when a leader gets it wrong, when it’s more about what they want to say versus what their employees need to hear? What is the impact to a culture? What is the impact of that engagement,

Will Mahon
the impact is, we sometimes forget, sometimes you can get so head down in your company, in your workday, in your meetings, in all the projects you’re working on that sometimes you can forget that people have the opportunity to look up and look around. And there are more opportunities that are available to employees now, more than ever, I’ll tell you, this is a true story. Just yesterday, I interviewed somebody. And they said to me, they said I just want to let you know that I’m not going to work just anywhere said, I’m employed right now. And I’m not I’m not just going to go work anywhere. And it stood out to me is that I’m going to wait until I find the right fit. Hopefully it’s with you. I’m like, yeah, I hope I hope this also, but I respect the fact that and this is happening more and more, where employees have much more power, much more bargaining power. You know, I think we see that with just the job market. You know, employees have much more bargaining power than they’ve ever had. And they know that and so if you’re not going to create the environment, that’s right for me, somebody else will. And the work, the culture of work has changed. You know, 70 years ago, it was I’m the boss, do what I say you need a paycheck, like you said at the beginning of this podcast, that is no longer an environment or leadership style that flies in any industry. And so leaders have to adapt and those who don’t adapt, fail. Yeah, their companies failed. Those cultures fail, because those employees go elsewhere. So you’re

Russel Lolacher
left with an organization of people looking at the door, if they’re not feeling motivated, but also if people are leaving, who are you left with? You’re left with the ones that are happy not being motivated, and happy just to I guess I’ll show up. Yeah. Like, what are you left with, if not the motivated people that want to succeed that way? Want to move forward. So I’m guessing you either have to figure out the motivation thing, or get stuck with an organization that might not be nearly as successful. As the vision says in the mission statement on the wall.

Will Mahon
It’s a slippery slope. And, you know, I equate it to, you ever go into like Yelp, Yelp, you will see 95% of what people put on Yelp is either five stars, or one star, it’s pretty rare that you find that two star three star review, because either I’m going to take the time out to share my experience, because it was amazing. And you need to know how amazing it was, I want to shout it from the rooftops, or avoid at all costs, write one star. And by the way, if you ever look on Yelp, most of those one star review start with the sentence, I wish I could have given zero stars. So that’s with Yelp, and I’ve made lots of decisions where I’ve gone, guess I’m not going to go to that restaurant, it’s gotten poor reviews, and those 14 people who took the time to do a Yelp review, have a lot of influence, and have personally influenced me over whether I’ll dine with him or not. The same thing is true for Glassdoor, right, so those one star those five star reviews that go on Glassdoor, it is the equivalent and folks are savvy enough to go on and say, oh, there’s a few one star reviews here. I don’t know if this is the place I even want to apply for. And if I do apply, I’m going to go in with this in the back of my mind that I’m going to be a bit skeptical about the leadership, the culture, whatever it is. So it’s a slippery slope. And it’s a very quick snowball effect. And if you don’t catch it, and if you don’t catch it quick, a lack of motivation and engagement, especially if it’s something that is stemming from leadership can spiral out of control pretty quickly.

Russel Lolacher
Whose responsibility is it to motivate employees? Because I’ve heard some leaders go well, it’s the staffs responsibility to motivate themselves to know their career path to know what their next rung in the ladder or jungle gym is. So whose motivation really is it?

Will Mahon
Everybody, everybody’s got a stake. You know, I’m spending what I air quotes 40 hours a week in the workplace, I’ve got a responsibility to make sure that the place of employment that I choose is a good fit. For me, it’s important for me that I do my research that I create those relationships that I, I am a culture carrier that I put in the hard yards to make this culture positive for me and the people around me. It’s also the company’s responsibility, we all have a stake in the game. You know, relationships are it are a team sport is not an individual sport. It’s something that we’re all responsible for. And it’s something that stems from conversation. You know, if you’re a leader, if you’re listening, and you have a manager who hasn’t asked you the question, what motivates you? What gets you really excited? And how can I as your, as your immediate line manager, do more of that? How can I create those opportunities for you? I wouldn’t say that their approach is wrong. But I would suggest that perhaps it’s incomplete. And if they haven’t engaged you in that conversation yet, then you do have a responsibility to say, I want to have a conversation with you. I want to tell you and motivates me, I want to find those ways to create an optimally motivating environment for myself. Let’s talk about this. Let’s talk about what we can do together as a partnership and get creative. I shared with you like, I lead guided meditations at index exchange, that is not part of my job description. Nobody has asked me to do it. Do people benefit from it? Yeah, it adds to the culture. And I have a lot of fun while I do it, it is one of my top motivators. So it’s one of those ways where I raised my hand and said, Can I do this, this is going to be motivating, for me, it will benefit other people. What do you say? And so regardless, you know, if you’re listening, there’s something that hopefully resonated with everybody who’s listening to it. Okay, I get it, I recognize that I’m motivated by this, you know, I, maybe that framework makes sense. If you’re not getting what motivates you think about what you can do? How can you lean into that more? How can you have those conversations? So we all get more of what we want?

Russel Lolacher
Where do you start? So say, as a leader, I want to motivate my team, I want to motivate an individual that I’m in I’m kind of curious as to how do you know you need to motivate somebody, but you’re looking at them going i i want to look and see where I can push you in a particular direction. How what are the first steps you take?

Will Mahon
There’s there’s always a need to motivate people, even if you’re motivated, right? It’s important for us to say how can I make sure that you remain motivated? Because just just because you’re motivated. Now, if I don’t continue to flex that muscle with you, doesn’t mean you’re always going to be motivated. We’ve all met folks who were once motivated and kind of fell flat over time because that environment changed. So how can I maintain this motivation? So I think there’s there’s always an argument to, to address motivation and to lean into that even with people who are eager, engaged and various You know, capable high will high skill. I think it starts with a bit of self awareness and self reflection. And I think the desire, you know, this kind of an old cheesy trainer expression where I’ve said, you know, I’d rather, I can be right or I can learn something to have that approach where you can say, You know what, none of us are perfect, right? Let’s engage in a conversation. And I don’t need to wait for like a manager survey data to come through to tell me if I’m doing good job. You know, if I’m talking to my people, if we’re having these conversations, I already know what’s gonna say, right? And so there are folks out there who say, right, we’ve got, you know, an engagement survey coming up, let’s see what the data says, No, you should be having those conversations, you should be talking to people, you should know what what that data is going to say before it comes through. Because if you don’t, if you’re surprised, you’re not in touch with your people, which means you’re probably not creating that environment in the first place. So it starts you know, it’s this succinct answer is it starts with conversation. It starts with with having these conversations about what drives insights. And by the way, having this conversations about what demotivate you, what are the things about your job, we’ve all got that thing where it’s like, gosh, this is one thing. It’s a drag. I don’t like doing this, I’ve got to do it. It’s part of the job description. I believe none of us are totally well rounded. We’re all kind of lumpy. But hopefully you have a team that’s well rounded. So if there’s something that that it bogs me down, maybe it lifts you up, wrestle. So if we talk about those things, even the things that demotivate us, we can likely create a solution that’s mutually beneficial for everybody.

Russel Lolacher
Are there people that you just can’t motivate? Does that situation ever occur? Or you can just look at the seven and somebody’s gonna fall into one of those sevens?

Will Mahon
I truly believe everybody can be motivated. I mean, it’s just the optimist in me, right? But I say, Look, you know, there, it’s very unlikely that somebody joined a company and said, you know, what, I’m gonna apply to this company, here’s my resume. I’m not motivated, I don’t want to do it. I’m gonna apply to this, you know, people, you know, day one, we all had the butterfly moment, you know, day one excitement, new company, new challenges. I think people start out motivated, we all start eager. That changes, you know, depending on the work environment, but I think everybody, everybody, 99.9% of people start from an engaged and motivated place, we all want to do well, we all want to be successful, we all want to make an impact. And when people aren’t, it’s one of those things where, you know, if you’re a people leader, you’ve got to say, no, no, it might be hard as hell to like point your thumb before you point your finger. So like, let me let me point my thumb at myself before I point the finger at them, why are they not motivated? Well, what am I doing? You know, what am I? What’s my role in this? What have I potentially done? What is the environment that I’ve created, potentially done to cause this? And so I think just about anybody can be motivated.

Russel Lolacher
Well, to be fair, if you’re not finding out how to motivate your staff, you sure should or motivating them to leave?

Will Mahon
Absolutely.

THE FINAL TWO

Russel Lolacher
Thanks. Well, I really appreciate your insight on this. And I’ve, you know, I’m like, you really got my brain thinking about a bit about this and how I want to approach others going, huh? Which of the Seven Dwarfs of motivation are you see, I’m already trying to brand it. Want to finish up with the last final two questions I asked of all my guests, and you would be no different. So let’s start with the first one, which is what’s the best or worst employee experience you’ve ever had?

Will Mahon
I’m going to go with the best optimist at heart. Best employee experience I’ve ever had is one that stood out for me. This was almost 20 years ago, 20 years ago, out of high school I worked at I worked at the grocery store, the local grocery store, and I worked in the bakery. And I did like those weird overnight shifts like 3am until 11am. College we all work those weird jobs. Right? And I’ll never forget this. You know, it was one of those like minimum wage jobs, a few bucks an hour, paid the bills, help pay for school. And my supervisor, Amy is her name. Amy, if you’re listening Hi. She, she wrangled everybody together first thing in the morning, it was like a Monday team meeting. There’s only like six or seven of us who worked in the bakery. And she said our bakery department exceeded goal. And she was I got a bonus and I’m going to give my bonus I want to divide my bonus between all of you. She goes because you know you’re the ones who talked to the customers. You’re the ones who like sold things. I I’m managing the group, but you know, you’re really the ones who did this. And you know, it wasn’t like a huge amount of money. But it was one of those things where if that didn’t matter, it was really the principal where I went Wow. That is, I will do anything for you. I will literally do anything for you. And what better way to just feel valued than to have somebody say, you know, this is this is your bonus. This isn’t my bonus and it’s stuck with me. 20 years later I’ve I’ve shared that story and it was just one of those things that was very selfless and generous. And I will share that story many more times.

Russel Lolacher
My heart got all fluttery that was that was so sweet. Now well, what is one action one simple action that people can do right now to improve their relationships at work.

Will Mahon
All right, at the risk of sounding like a broken record to some of what I was just talking about with motivation. If before you try to motivate somebody, if you don’t consider who they are and what their drivers might be, your approach is incomplete. There is room for improvement. When it comes to motivation when it comes to engagement when it comes to relationship building. Take the time, have conversations with people talk, talk about it. What gets you excited, what gets you what gets you demotivated. And before the next time you try to motivate somebody Big or small, take a step back. Think about if you’re motivated by the same things and just try try to tailor your approach. It doesn’t need to be seismic but just little things here and there so that people will feel like you see them you hear them and what they say matters.

Russel Lolacher
That’ll do it. That’s Wilmer, Han everybody. He’s a learning nerd, a psychology nerd a yoga nerd and dare I say relationships at work nerd, and Jennifer Lopez influenced human being thank you so much for being on the show. Well appreciate it.

Will Mahon
My pleasure. Thanks, Russel.