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.