Motivate Your Team with Prevention or Promotion Language

Motivate Your Team with Prevention or Promotion Language

SHARE

You need the right language for the right motivational focus says Heidi Grant Halvorson, associate director at Columbia Business School.

Prevention focused people see what there is to lose by failure

These people want security, they avoid making mistakes, like fulfilling responsibilities, tend to work slowly and deliberately, and are always prepared for the worst.

They’re also stressed out by tight deadlines, feel anxious when things go wrong, and generally aren’t comfortable with trying new things. They’re great at structured, detail-oriented jobs.

Promotion focused people see what there is to gain by success

These people work quickly, are great brainstormers, take risks, and plan for the best-case scenario. They also lose steam without a lot of positive feedback. They’re innovative and creative people.

Now match your communication style:

  • For prevention focus: “Work on five goals for this project. Your obligation is to not miss more than two goals.”
  • For promotion focus: “Work on five goals for this project. Your aspiration is to meet at least three.”

It’s a subtle change, but a big performance enhancer. As a team manager, tailor your instructions to team needs, and ensure the roles you’ve assigned members makes sense given their motivators.

Tracy Lee Nicol
Tracy-Lee Nicol is an experienced business writer and magazine editor. She was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Rhodes university in 2010, and in the time since has honed her business acumen and writing skills profiling some of South Africa's most successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, franchisees and franchisors.Find her on Google+.