The following points are a result of five years of research to understand the actions which any group leader (or line manager) can take to help people (members, beneficiaries, and stakeholders) become self-motivated, passionate, enthusiastic, and expert in the groups efforts and objectives. In an enterprise this may be called employee engagement, and the beneficiaries are customers, but these points also apply to leading groups in education, civic, government, religious, and family.
* Every person arrives and contributes to your group (and all groups) at their own current level of engagement. Each person's own level of engagement, is influenced by their past and present group experiences. You can easily assess (without measurements) this engagement on a continuum from 'fully engaged' to 'actively disengaged'. Everyone (employees, customers, and stakeholders) can and will move on this continuum, no one is static. As a group leader you can help each person move towards 'full engagement'. Even those that arrive fully engaged are most likely unaware as it is not taught in any curriculum.
* No one can motivate/engage another person! One can only help another learn by experience the fulfillment of self-motivation/engagement (involvement with heart and mind). You cannot feel 'personally' responsible to motivate/engage another person as this only creates frustration and helplessness. Rather, create the environment to help others engage themselves. Also your enthusiasm, self-motivation, and passion serve as an example and inspiration to others.
* To sustain motivation/engagement the activity itself must provide feedback! Engaged persons are re-engaged by the activity and people in it, more so than by colleagues and supervisors. You must focus on the activity first or you will lose sight of your purpose as activities are aligned with the group's purpose.
This may seem counter intuitive as group members learn as early as the school system to receive feedback on their actions from colleagues and supervisors through systems to 'manage' the groups efforts. For the 'leadership' of soft skills such as enthusiasm and reflection one must also provide feedback from the activity itself. This will make your tasks simpler, enjoyable, and more successful.
* Any group leader can provide people feedback from the activity itself by helping them ask (mostly non-verbally) the critical questions for "How are we doing?" - both individually and collectively. Focus on the activity first and the people within the activity secondly to allow everyone to participate in the groups learning experiences and understanding. The activity focus reduces the personalities and builds a sense of purpose. Most communications and learning is non-verbal or "informal".
Our research determined five actions a group leader can do with (not to) their group members to initiate this process for self-motivation/engagement. Note that a process is merely a set of steps (or I like to think of it as a recipe) for creating something and, unlike a program or system, does not need to come from the top but can be inserted anywhere within an organization--even in a single group as a trial.
- Begin and end with "Thanking" everyone. This provides recognition and appreciation through daily operations.
- Next invite participation to demonstrate everyone's intentions
- Then ask, almost always non-verbally, "How are we doing?" to learn the 'critical' daily operations which determine success.
- Distribute the feedback with everyone through daily activities. Let them 'naturally' become involved and challenged.
- Continue to bulletin or share workplace experiences and relationships. Make assessments (share opinions) by fostering a continuous dialogue.
- Repeat the cycle