Disclose Your Motives: The First Disruptive Behavioral Technology
This is part one in my three-part series on disruptive behavioral technologies that will dramatically improve relationships and results.
Have you ever been asked to do something by your boss but given no context about why? Maybe you asked why, and were met with a response like, “Because I said so,” or “Don’t question me, just do it,” or even worse, being accused of insubordination.
One of the biggest trust-busters is lack of transparency around motives.
Maybe you do it to maintain power and control. Maybe you aren’t aware how important it is to others. Maybe you’ve convinced yourself that you know best what you need and how people can help you. Maybe you are just being a jerk. Regardless of why, when you hide your motives from your teammates, you greatly undermine their ability to help you. It insults their intelligence by treating them like they can’t think independently or collaborate with you in finding solutions. If you withhold your motives, prepare for excuses, passive-aggressive behavior, and avoidance.
Disclose your motives before you ask people to do anything for you. Let people know the “why” behind your request. Share the real reasons you care about it and why you think they could help. Even better, engage them in helping you find a solution.
Instead of, “Will please send me the financials from last year?”
Try, “I’m putting together some numbers for my annual goal review and I’ve been wondering how our performance compares to last year. Will you help me gather the best information to get a clear picture of our department’s performance?”
Instead of, “Why did the promo run on Friday?”
Try, “Earlier today I got some tough questions from my boss about the timing of our new campaign and I felt embarrassed and confused. Will you help me understand so I can feel confident explaining it?”
Instead of, “Tell me what you’ve accomplished this week.”
Try, “I’m angry about slow progress on the project. I want to understand what’s been happening so I can discuss course corrections. Will you share wth me what you’ve been working on this week?”
If this feels vulnerable to you, that’s completely normal. It should. This is what it feels like to struggle with people instead of against them. This is what teamwork is about; transparency of motives so that people can fully engage towards the real goal.
Want to learn about the other two disruptive behavioral technologies.
- Stop trying to control negative behavior
- Place openness before honesty
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Good article Nate! I would think it applies to most in the workforce.
However, those CEO’s , Presidents, etc., have times in their careers they cannot disclose the “why” to their subordinate’s.
Example: they are looking at buying a company, they don’t want to produce panic or be premature in telling others, they are just exploring. Not all CEO’s lack the skill of transparency, but their is a “need to know” at times.
Great point Jill. One clarification is between emotional motives and factual motives. Emotional “whys” are usually more important to disclose up front.
I’ve not had as much success with motivating people with giving the ‘why’ upfront as I’d expect. But, I think the approach you’re giving may work a bit better.