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Thursday 21st Nov 2019

Want to energise your people? Ask the right questions

One of the greatest assets of your business walks out the door every night. What are you doing to get them to return the next day inspired, motivated, and enthused to be the best they can be? One thing you can do, ask the right questions.

One of the greatest assets of your business walks out the door every night. What are you doing to get them to return the next day inspired, motivated, and enthused to be the best they can be? One thing you can do is ask them the right questions.

Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report quotes ‘85% of employees are not engaged at work. Of the 85%, 18% are actively disengaged in their work and workplace, and 67% are “not engaged.” The economic consequences of this global “norm” are approximately $7 trillion in lost productivity.’ That’s terrifying!

This latter group, the 67% who are not engaged, are those individuals who come to work and go through the motions. They are not your worst performers, but they are indifferent to your organisation.  There is little sense of enthusiasm to take ownership or even drive to improve their performance. They give you their time, but not their best effort. They come to work for a reason, but nobody knows why. Or more importantly, nobody has asked them why.

Want to energise your people? Ask them the right questions

Why do your people come to work?

Your people do things for their reasons, not your reasons. You can’t motivate someone to do something they don’t want to do, especially if it is not aligned to their values and beliefs. You can make them feel inspired or engaged, but motivation is a personal choice, which comes from within.

Understand your people’s motivational triggers to identify what drives them to perform or take action.

Is it





…career advancement

…social engagement,

…work-life balance.

Whatever their trigger, it’s personal to them and creates a response. Tap into it, and you’ll unlock their potential to achieve great things.

Ask the right questions: ask WHY questions

Imagine a triangle; the WHY being at the base, the WHAT on the left side, and the HOW on the right.

Want to energise your people? Ask them the right questions

We tend to spend most of our time in the WHAT we are doing and the HOW we are doing it but very little time in the WHY we are doing it. The WHY is the foundation of the entire process.

Examples of WHY questions

Now, who’s great at asking WHY questions? Children, of course.

Go and tidy your room – why?

Put your jacket on. We are going to the supermarket – why?

Be kind to your sister/brother – why?

Children are so intuitive!

I believe one of the challenges, when we get into adult life, is that life conditions us to stop asking the WHY questions, we lose that childlike instinct.

Perhaps now is the time to time to get that back by asking the WHY question.

What are your personal goals for the year?

What is it you want to achieve?

Why do you want to achieve it?

How can I help you achieve those goals?

What financially do you want to earn?

Why do you want to earn that amount?

How can I help you achieve those goals?

You get my point. Not only do you understand the what and the how, but more importantly, you start to understand the WHY from the individuals perspective.

Emotion creates the motion, moving an individual to take action.

Engaging with your people at a deeper emotional level, not just a logical level and understanding the WHY from their perspective will give you knowledge of their motivational triggers.

What to energise your people? Ask them the right questions

One of the keys for creating a motivational and energising environment for your people is to understand clearly their personal goals and how work can be one of the vehicles to help them achieve those goals.

The moment you help create the bridge in their mind – the link between their personal goals and business goals – self-motivation kicks in.

Let me share a story.

One of my clients was so excited by this idea he sat down individually with all his people to understand what they wanted to achieve, why they wanted to achieve it, and how working with him, he could help them achieve it. (Remember the triangle).

One of his team wanted to earn a £10,000 bonus to take his wife and two children to DisneyWorld (his motivational trigger). But here’s the important part, it’s not the money that is the critical factor, it’s what the money allows them to do in their lives.

Once he knew the why he could talk with his team member about the what and most importantly the how – what his high performing weeks needed to look like to get to DisneyWorld.

In all decisions, emotion is far more important than logic

Now imagine the triangle again, adding a horizontal line two-thirds of the way up with the word logic above the line and the word emotion below the line.

Want to energise your people? Ask them the right questions

The majority of the decisions we make are made emotionally, not logically.

Personal job satisfaction and motivation are driven by far more than financial factors such as salary and benefits. This can include relocation services, career development, choice of work location, flexibility to spend time with children and attend school functions and sports days.

Every person experiences important moments in their lives, but in business, there is one that stands out above all others: the moment a person changes from someone with a job to someone with a purpose. While the motivation to do so must come from within, the triggers that compel them to make the switch are the ones you can create.

Do you know your people’s motivational triggers?

Ask the right questions, and you’ll find out what they are.

Want to know more about growing and developing your people? Check out.

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