Celebrate, celebrate and embrace those highs


Looking to our brains, for a change, research from neuroscience reveals the simple secrets on how to be motivated and to foster an environment where motivation can thrive. At the very heart of motivation is our human instinct to avoid pain/threat and seek out reward/pleasure and David Rock’s SCARF model is an easily-remembered acronym to help remind us of what might simply and truly motivate us: Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness. In my previous blog post I discussed the first two elements and now here’s an attempt to outline some practical and simple ideas around the concepts of Autonomy and Relatedness.

Autonomy – people like to have control over their lives and the choices they make.

Threat example: you have a new boss who is only just promoted into management and is not feeling confident yet in the role; even though you are very experienced and knowledgeable at what you do, your new manager micro-manages you closely, worried that you will make mistakes for which they will have to take the blame.

Reward exampleyou are very experienced and knowledgeable at what you do so your new manager agrees the parameters of the performance goals with you and lets you off to achieve them, always remaining available for support when required by you.

Examples of where autonomy can be used to motivate people include:  building autonomy into jobs/levels of choice and control: agreeing the what/when, and letting people decide on the how; flexibility in working methods and hours; team decision-making; two-way agreement on most motivating management style; sharing ideas and initiatives; self-directed learning and team work.

Relatedness – people like to feel included and part of the social group.

Threat example:  your peer colleagues are included in a lunch invite from the boss to celebrate the end of a project to which you are not invited.

Reward example: you got involved in a cross-functional project and have formed a new friendship with one of the other engineers in the team whom you often meet for lunch

Examples of where relatedness can be used to motivate people include: networking and building social connections and relationships; encouraging collaboration and interconnection at work; social events and celebrations.

A big message from me from my long career both within and outside organisations, is to celebrate!  Celebrate the highs (there are enough lows to mull over and pull apart). What  might seem like a tiny high, for example some positive feedback from a client or meeting a project deadline; or a really big high, like a company anniversary or landing a big new piece of business; take the time to celebrate, get involved, blow your trumpet!  Irish people don’t like blowing their trumpets for fear that the trumpet might be too big, too shiny, greater than someone else’s and that someone will shut the trumpet up fast with a reminder of what there is not to celebrate.  A really good example of this was a recent lovely high for the whole island of Ireland when we made it into the Lonely Planet’s Top Travel Places. What an honour and how did we celebrate it, by asking, loudly and persistently over the media airways: why would anyone want to visit us in Ireland: look at all the things that are wrong, negative and unpleasant.  How sad and demotivating. When someone praises you, take it, and gladly; try not to throw it right back at them, celebrate instead.   So, here is the lonely planet guide to Ireland and I totally agree with it, every word:

 ‘A small country with a big reputation, helped along by a timeless, age-caressed landscape and a fascinating, friendly people, whose lyrical nature is expressed in the warmth of their welcome’.

I’m off to celebrate by booking myself a weekend in the Burren, County Clare in the new year, happy days!

Anne Marie

Anne Marie Crowley, based in Cork, is a free-lance Coach and Trainer in the field of behavioural change for individuals and business. 

Anne Marie Crowley is the founder of Crowley Personal and Business Change.


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  1. Pingback: Why Fairness matters | Crowley Personal and Business Change

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