MOOC: Inspiring and Motivating Individuals

Here are my notes from Inspiring and Motivating Individuals MOOC from Michigan on Coursera.

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Becoming a Visionary Leader

Visionary Leadership

  • Impact of visionary leadership on team performance
    • Create and communicate the vision (6%)
      • Most important during the time of uncertainty
    • Structure the team (role, responsibilities, interdependence) (6%)
    • Show consideration for individual team members (2%+)
  • Impact of visionary leadership on firm growth in startups
    • Communicated vision made a positive impact for managers to create stretch goals.
    • Stretch goals increases employee confidence
    • Employee confidence is a predictor on how fast the firm grow

A Model for Creating and Communicating Your Vision

  • Vision: Not the ones on the walls, rather what you say to your employees every day, the current realities we are in and where we are going.
  • Both what you say (substance) and how you say (style) are important
  • Developing your vision
    • Why do we do what we do?
    • What does success look like?
    • How must we act to ensure success?

A Checklist for Creating and Communicating Your Vision

  • Refer to fundamental values (can come from How must we act to ensure success?)
  • Use stories, anecdotes, metaphors, and analogies
  • Use rhetorical questions and 3-part lists (what I am going to tell you, tell you, what I told you)
  •  Express moral conviction
    • Referring to the beneficiaries of your work (“customer”)
  • Use inclusive language (“we”, “our”)
  • Repeat your key message multiple times

The Importance of non-verbals in communicating your vision

  • “Up to 60% of the socio-emotional meaning of a message is conveyed via non-verbal cues!”
  • Key to success:
    • Vary your intonation, volume, and pitch
    • Smile (genuinely)
    • Maintain an open body posture

The Michigan Model of Leadership

  • See:
  • “At the centre of the MMoL is a core purpose: to make a positive difference in the world.”
  • Values
    • “are empathetic and committed to seeing the world through others’ eyes;”
    • “are driven and routinely stretch to achieve challenging goals; “
    • “have integrity and are committed to doing the right thing even if it is not the popular thing; “
    • “are courageous and consider risk and failure to be necessary ingredients for innovation.”
  •  leadership archetypes
    • “Robust Results (blue) represents the actions that leaders engage in to foster competition, perform under pressure, and deliver short-term results.”
    • “This archetype is often in direct tension with Collaborative Communities (yellow), which represents the actions involved in building high-quality relationships, empowering people, and cultivating trust and cohesion within teams. “
    • “Strategic Structures (red) represents the actions that leaders engage in to establish accountability, ensure reliable processes, and optimize efficiency.”
    • “This archetype is often in direct contrast with Creative Change (green), which represents the actions required to enable change, inspire innovation and co-create new opportunities.”
  • Principles
    • Readying for Growth
      • “building an awareness of strengths in context”
      • “identifying specific, learning goals”
      • “developing a learning mind-set”
        • “A learning mind-set values experimentation and pushing the boundaries of our comfort zones.”
    • Taking Action to Learn
      • “taking action for learning requires that leaders commit to personal experimentation”
      • “leaders must commit to a set of actions focused on seeking feedback
    • Reflecting to Retain
      • “describe the experience”
      • “explain their reactions to the experience”
      • “discuss “what if” scenarios that test alternative explanations for their performance”
      • “identify insights about new behaviours that would improve performance”
      • “commit to at least two behaviour changes and specific milestones for making those behavior changes”

Setting Effective Goals and Expectation

Goal and Performance

  • For accepted goals, performance increases linearly and significantly with goal difficulty. 
  • For rejected goals, performance decreases linearly and significantly with goal difficulty.
  • We accept goals that we
    • understand,
    • clear,
    • makes sense to us,
    • that we find meaningful,
    • that are aligned with our abilities
  • We reject goals that we
    • unattainable,
    • unreasonable,
    • that we don’t understand,
    • that don’t align with our abilities
  • We are also greatly influenced by people around us
    • One will more likely reject a goal if people around him/her also reject the goal.
    • Of people around a person are more willing to accept difficult goals, that person will also more likely to accept the goal.
  • Why goals increase performance
    • Direct effort and attention
    • Energize and motivate
    • Increase persistence and effort
    • Discover and use task-reelvant knowledge and strategies (i.e. to learn)

The Risks of Stretch Goals

  • Stretch goals can promote unethical behavior
  • Stretch goals can promote dissatisfaction
  • Burnout happens when people are consistently faced with stretch goals and you have cumulative effect of the dissatisfaction. 
  • Stretch goals can promote better results, but it might not be sustainable.

Smart Goals

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Agree Upon
  • Reasonable
  • Time Bound
  • Goals are most effective when people publicly commit to the goal
  • After set aggressive goals, be a role model.
  • Reward the team after met the goals

Limitations of Smart Goals

  • Can lead to setting unwise goals if not aligned with the vision/strategy of the organization
  • Can lead to unethical behavior
    • specific goals can cause people to overstate their performance
    • people who are near misses of meeting their performance may also conduct unethical behavior
    • Not only need to create a culture of ethical behavior, also develop a tolerance for failure.
  • Can conflict among discrete goals
    • SMART goals reduce your awareness of how multiple goals conflict
  • SMART goals does not make goals meaningful
  • Can lead to tunnel vision, causing us narrow our attention too much to miss obvious issues sometimes. 
  • Specific goals limit learning and creativity, especially in complex and uncertain environments.
  • When we have specific goals, we tend to be more impatient even chaotic in our search from one strategy to another. If we discover a strategy to accomplish a goal, we don’t sit on that strategy long enough to figure out to what extend that strategy shapes performance. We tend move on to the next strategy way too quickly before fully understand the performance implications of the first one and that in the long run really constraints our ability to learn. 
  • Specific goals can be quiet effective in familiar environment where a specific subset of strategies known to work well, an environment where you have good intuitions on which set of strategies to use. 
  • If the environment is poorly understood or complex, if you have a wide range of strategies to reach a goal, has no strong intuitions on which strategies are effective or optimal, think setting less specific goals. This is one circumstance where “do your best” can work better than SMART goals. 

Creating Goals that Drive Motivation

  • “How Customers Can Rally Your Troops” (
    • “A growing body of research shows that end users—customers, clients, patients, and others who benefit from a company’s products and services—are surprisingly effective in motivating people to work harder, smarter, and more productively.”
    • Impacts
      • impact: Employees see for themselves how their work benefits others. “
      • appreciation: Employees come to feel valued by end users.”
      • empathy: Employees develop a deeper understanding of end users’ problems and needs and thereby become more committed to helping them. “
  • Make Goals Meaningful
    • People who found meaningful work also reported greater level of job satisfaction, grater satisfaction in life meaning and greater overall satisfaction in life.
    • One of the most effective strategies to help people to see their goals with meaning is to see how their products impact lives of others.
  • Autonomy and Skill Variety
    • Advice: Rotate employees from one role to another every 3 years. If an employee is stuck in a role for more than 3 years, that typically correlates with lower level of engagement and motivation.

Understanding Human Needs and Drivers of Performance Across Cultures

Drivers of Performance at Work

  • Salary, bonus (L)
    • Extrinsic
  • Control, autonomy (M)
  • Relationship with supervisors, coworkers (H)
    • Intrinsic
  • Positive work conditions (M)
  • Opportunity for growth, advancement (H)
  • Recognition (L)
    • Extrinsic
  • Meaning in the work (H/M)

Understanding Human Needs to Motivate People

  • Hierarchy of Needs (Maslow)
    • Physical
    • Safety
    • Belonging/Social relational
    • Self esteem (identity, confidence, status)
    • Self actuation (meaning in life/work, purpose)
  • Core values of people’s needs: (in ranked order)
    1. benevolence,
    2. independence (autonomy),
    3. understanding (wisdom),
    4. security
    5. conformity,
    6. achievement,
    7. pleasure,
    8. excitement,
    9. tradition, and
    10.  power
  • Hygiene Factors vs. Motivators (Hertzberg)
    • Motivators explained 81% of the variation in job satisfaction across people.
      • Achievement
      • Recognition
      • Work itself
      • Responsibility
      • Advancement
      • Growth
    • Hygiene factors explained 69% of the variation in job dissatisfaction across people.
      • Company policy/admin
      • Supervision
      • Relationship with supervisor
      • Work conditions
      • Salary
      • Relationship with peers
      • Personal life
      • Relationship with subordinates
      • Status
      • Security
  • Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic (Deci + Ryan)
    • Extrinsic motivators
      • Money
      • Badges
      • Titles
      • Points
      • Fear of failures
      • Gold Stars
      • Competition
      • Can be demotivating to a person’s intrinsic motives and performance by exclusively focusing on extrinsic rewards
      • Direct Extrinsic Reward
        • Pay for performance
        • Has not a lot of impact compare to no extrinsic reward
      • Indirect Extrinsic Reward
        • Based on effort/engagement
        • Weather if you complete a task
        • Pay for engagement
        • Has significant impact compare to no extrinsic reward
    • Intrinsic motivators
      • Autonomy
      • Belonging
      • Curiosity
      • Love
      • Learning
      • Mastery
      • Meaning
  • How to create Meaning at Work
    • Outsource to your “customers”
    • Meaningful work example: zoo keepers
      • Positive
        • Sense of purpose
        • Meaning
        • Significance
        • Commitment
      • Negative
        • Moral duty
        • Less pay
        • Less personal time
        • Sacrifice comfort
    • Backward mapping values and needs from behavior
      • What behaviors am I observing?
      • Based on observed behavior, what does this person value?
      • Based on observed behavior, what does this person need to be engaged?

Motivation Traps

  • Assuming people are like us.
  • Assuming extrinsic rewards have a linear relationship with happiness
    • Diminishing return as the extrinsic rewards increases
    • Partly influenced by social comparison
  • Not aligning rewards with desired outcomes
    • For quantity outcomes, extrinsic motivators has slightly stronger influence than intrinsic motivators.
    • For qualitative outcomes (innovation, creativity), intrinsic motivators has significantly more influence than extrinsic motivators.
  • Ignore social comparison and fairness concerns
    • Alining rewards with values is only part of the equation
    • You must also ensure rewards are aligned with contributions across people

Alining Rewards and Behavior

Using Rewards and Feedback to Drive Behavior

  • Equity
    • Reward-to-effort ratios relative to peers, not absolute
    • Applying equity principeles
      • Attain congruence in perception of inputs
      • Make sure inputs are relevant and important for the organization
        • Focus on results, less on effort
      • Recognize the rewards people value
      • Communicate
      • Strive for equity in the long-term
  • The Folly of Rewards A while Hoping for B
    • Examples
      • Expecting for long-term growth while rewarding quarterly earnings
      • Expecting teamwork while rewarding for individual effort
      • Expecting stretch goals while rewarding “Making the numbers”
      • Expecting innovative thinking and risk taking while rewarding proven methods and minimize mistakes
      • Expecting candor; surfacing bad news early while rewarding reporting good news; agreeing with the boss
    • Addressing Folly A/B
      • Understand what behaviors you are rewarding
      • Reward systems should reinforce desired behaviors
      • Alter the reward system
  • Type of Reinforcement
    • Positive reinforcement
      • Desired behavior emitted —> Present attractive consequences —> desired behavior increases
    • Negative reinforcement
      • Desired behavior emitted —> Remove aversive condition —> desired behavior increases
    • Punishment
      • Undesired behavior emitted —> Present aversive condition —> Undesired behavior decreases
    • The best way, the most effective way to attend continuously high levels of motivation and performance, is to use positive reinforcement
    • Punishment can lead to low morale, turnover, and even sabotage
    • Behavioral changes as a result of punishment may be unsustainable
    • Punishment can eradicate discreet, undesired behaviors
    • Apply punishment soon after the undesired behaviors and clearly communicate the reason for it
  • Managing by Fear
    • How to get fear out of room
      • Transparency on the progress of the team in real-time and enable teams to help one another to stay on schedule
      • Not single out the individual when falling behind. The whole team own the work together.
  • Schedules of Reinforcement
    • When and how is a given reward to distributed
      • Not the most effective ways
        • Fixed Interval
          • Receiving a reward after a fixed time interval
        • Fixed Ratio
          • Receiving a reward after a fixed number of responses
      • More effective way
        • Variable Ratio Reinforcement
          • The probability of winning is constant, but the number of lever presses needed to win is variable
        • Variable interval
          • Receive a reward after time intervals of different length
        • Variable ratio
          • The number of units produced to receive a w reward varies
        • Ratio reinforcement schedules typically outperform interval reinforcement schedules
        • Variable reinforcement schedules typically outperform their fixed counterparts

Effective Performance Appraisal

  • Function of a performance appraisal
    • Evaluate
    • Development
      • If providing “opportunity for improvement” feedback, to avoid the situation that the employee stopped listening after receiving the feedback is to schedule the development planning in a separate session.
    • Motivation
    • Ditch Performance Reviews? How about Learn to do them well?
      • Challenges
        • Cognitive bias: “A central cognitive bias is the fundamental attribution error, wherein we attribute success to our own traits and abilities, and blame failures on external circumstances.”
        • Sugarcoating the negative
        • Lack of preparation
      • Recommendations
        • Create an open, two-way dialogue
          • Ask the employee to prepare by fill out some variant of a performance self-assessment form
        • Reduce the subjectivity
          • By using peer-to-peer comparisons (leveling)
          • By considering multiple perspectives (i.e. 360)
          • By using concrete events or behaviors to support the evaluation
        • Give constant feedback
        • Balance evaluation and development
          • Separate evaluation session from development session as mentioned earlier
    • Illusion of transparency
      • Due to curse of knowledge, it’s hard for one person, who has the knowledge, to communicate clearly to people who doesn’t have the knowledge
      • To avoid this pitfall, engage in active listening, ask questions and use your words to describe what you heard.
    • Self-fulfilling prophecy
      • No matter what you believe, it will turn to true.
      • “Treat a man as he is, he will remain so. Treat a man the way he can be and ought to be, and he will become as he can be and should be.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Effective Feedback

  • Providing Critical Performance Feedback

    • Don’t wait
    • Focus on behaviors and not on personality
    • Focus on a few key behaviors
    • Be specific
    • Do not “sandwich” or “sugarcoat”
    • Confirm understanding
    • Follow up with positive reinforcement when seeing desired changes
  • Seeking Performance Feedback
    • Benefits of consistently seeking feedback
      • More accurate perception of how others understand you
      • You are perceived as being more creative, open and caring
    • Remain open to critical feedback
      • Seeking affirmation can backfire; it diminishes the perception of your effectivness
    • How to seek feedback
      • How am I doing?
      • What can I do to improve?
      • What can I do to improve in communicating the status of my projects to team leaders?

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