What makes your team tick?

  • 21 Jul 2020
  • By Helen Phillips
  • Read in 10 Minutes

Tags: Happy Staff, Leadership, TTI Success Insights

What makes your team tick?

Have you wondered why some members of your team are not as productive as you would like them to be? 

This was an event I had been looking forward to all week – the opportunity to listen to, and maybe ask a question of Brian Tracy, the author we’ve all read on the subjects of business, leadership, and managing ourselves.

So what do you get from an event like this that you don’t get from watching his YouTube channel?

We learnt about the writers who have inspired him – Peter Drucker, Jim Rohn, Mark McCormack, Daniel Kahneman among others.  We learnt of his passion for learning – Brian has invested over 100,000 hours in studying business and psychology.

His mantra is “Continue to learn – you never know what will spark the next idea.  The more ideas you have the more likely you are to be successful”

Why aren’t my team engaged?

Have you wondered why some members of your team are not as productive as you would like them to be?  One person might be driven, enthusiastic, and conscientious, whereas another person, equally capable, might seem to be disinterested.

Perhaps you think that some sort of incentive would help.  And yet, you can have two equally capable people, in the same role, subject to the same incentive scheme and still get vastly different performance.

The curious case of what motivates people

The bonus scheme is often the first point of call when it comes to improving performance.  However, there are many research studies that demonstrate that carrots and sticks don’t work.

There is an excellent LinkedIn article by David Seacombe on this subject,


For a deeper dive, there is an the classic, “Drive – the Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” by Dan Pink.  This easy to read book draws on more than 40 years of research into human motivation.


To motivate employees, Pink argues that the following three areas are at the root of increased performance and satisfaction:

  • Autonomy — Our desire to be self-directed. It increases engagement over compliance.
  • Mastery — The urge to get better skills.
  • Purpose — The desire to do something that has meaning and is important. Businesses that only focus on profits without valuing purpose will end up with poor customer service and unhappy employees.

Finding Purpose

Unfortunately for business owners and leaders, “Purpose” means different things to different people, and they may express it in many different ways.

Psychologists have identified six “intrinsic motivators” .  These are a cluster of values that we believe to be fundamentally important, with a similar underlying pattern or idea.

They are:

  • Theoretical – A drive for knowledge and learning.
  • Utilitarian – A drive for practicality, value and return on investment.
  • Aesthetic – A drive for beauty and creative expression.
  • Social – A drive for compassion and helping others.
  • Individualistic – A drive for uniqueness, status and to lead.
  • Traditional – A drive for unity, order and a system for living.

Our primary motivators help determine what gives us joy, happiness, energy and purpose — at work and in life.

Why do they argue about trivial things?

Have you ever wondered why your team have heated arguments about seemingly trivial things?

In one company I worked for, I had constant run-ins with one of the other senior managers.  He would get frustrated with me because he thought the place was a mess.  I got frustrated with him because he spent so much time on the colour scheme for the new office.

When we talk about values, we often think of “honesty”, or “integrity”.  These are things we can believe in and inspire our teams.  We know that a clash of values can cause friction within the team, and the same is true of the underlying motivators.

My own “Aesthetic” drive is fairly low – it is definitely about function over form for me.  My colleague had high drivers for “Aesthetic” and “Tradition”.  If we had known this, maybe we could have understood each other better.  We could have changed the way we behaved towards each other, and wasted a lot less time and energy.

If you can tap into the motivators of your team, you can create an emotionally intelligent environment that provides them with the purpose they crave and unleashes their potential.

How can I spot the “hidden” motivators if they’re “hidden”?

If someone, like Brian Tracy, has a passion for knowledge and learning, you will hear them talk about it.

For some of the other motivators, there can be cultural reasons why they may not be so obvious:  we may not want to appear greedy, or arrogant, or we might not want to come across as inflexible, when we crave stability and order.

When we work with clients, we use the Workplace Motivators tool from TTI Success Insights.  This helps you to understand what drives your team, so that you can create the very best environment for success.

For one of my clients, there were constant arguments between the business owner and his business development manager – “money, money, money – he always wants to spend my money”.

When we carried out the workplace motivators study, we found that they had very similar “Utilitarian” measures.  No surprise here – a drive to achieve a good return on investment is a good thing for a business owner or salesman.  However, when it came to their “Aesthetic” drive, they were streets apart.  The salesman had a strong aesthetic drive, and the business owner was indifferent.  The salesman wanted to spend money on making the office surroundings more pleasant – the business owner misinterpreted this as a desire for more money.

By reviewing the results with them, we were able to create a better understanding.  For less than £15, they created the harmonious working environment that the salesman craved, enabling him to perform at a higher level.

What next?

If you would like to understand your team better, we have a range of tools at our disposal.  We have many years of experience of helping business owners to gain better performance from their team.

For further information, contact [email protected], or call 02921 111 262 and ask for an adviser to call you back.

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