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Making Change

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My 12-year-old daughter and I had a rousing argument this week about homework, specifically, studying for a history test. My husband and I try to have her study a bit every night, so she’s not cramming the night before, but she’d skipped a few nights and the test was looming.

While she’d spent about 20 minutes reviewing with her tutor, the latter said there was a good deal she still didn’t know. I told my daughter that after dinner, we’d review together. As any good 12-year-old would, she said no. Parents, you can imagine the scene that followed. Former kids who didn’t want to study, you can as well. My husband the peace maker stepped in to say that if she really wanted to get a good grade (which she insists she does), she’d study. If not, I couldn’t make her.

I knew that.

When I coach managers and executives, I know the most successful results come from someone who wants to change. When I conduct manager’s workshops, I talk about how one can’t motivate someone to perform at their best. We may entice with promises of promotion or compensation or flex time or whatever reward s/he values. But in the long run, an employee has to have the self-motivation to do the job.

Three powerful questions to ask your employees:

• What is it you really want?

• What gets in your way?

• What changes are you willing to make?

You may get stunned silence. You may get quizzical looks. You may hear hot air. You may get a thoughtful response, if not then, later, about what really motivates your team member and what she’s willing to do with that motivation. That opens up a useful, ongoing conversation as to how you as a manager can help her succeed. Or it tells you that you may need to look for a new employee at some point.

Here’s a challenge: ask yourself those three questions…and if you’re interested in having some objective conversation about your answers, give me a call. There’s some room on my daily coaching calendar!

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