People Acuity Newsletter – January 2021

Leadership and Motivation in Turbulent Times

Many managers have reported a challenge motivating their people, despite best efforts and the use of every trick in the book. That’s when a new approach is in order – something simple and easy, like calling on one of three 2-minute manager conversations that can be game-changers for your people.

To put your employees in touch with their own energy and performance levers, you just need a few carefully chosen questions to point them in the right direction. Most people want to be motivated, but often don’t recognize how to ignite their own energy and performance. This is where the critical ‘motivating manager’ conversations come in.

If you make great use of the small, everyday moments you have with your people, it will lead to big, great results every day, including them taking responsibility for motivating themselves.

Here are three simple, but powerful discussion guides for you to consider:

The “Why” Conversation

Too often managers focus on the questions of “what” the work to be done is and “how” to do it – which misses the internal motivating force: purpose. When employees are connected to the deeper “why” of their work and are inspired by the vision of how they can make a real difference, they are more likely to. Managers can ask key questions to help employees clarify purpose and internally validate their own meaningful impact. Consider trying this:

  • What is truly important about this _______ (task, project, work)? How does it make a difference in others’ lives?)?
  • What have you contributed to other people and projects that you feel good about? What is the difference you’ve made?)?
  • How can you bring that difference to this _______ (task, project, work)? What will you do to lift others around you and this ___________ (task, project, work)?

The “Need” Conversation

There are universal needs – you might call them conditions – under which all individuals flourish, and when they are met, performance and energy soars. If they are unmet, employees will show up as unmotivated and underperforming. When someone is frustrated (evidence of an unmet need), it can be as simple as asking:

  • What do you need right now?
  • What resources do you have that will help you resolve your own need?

The “Strengths” Conversation

A strength is, “a way of being or doing that lifts you and others to high energy and performance”. Everyone has them, yet not everyone knows them or knows how to use them. Employees who talk regularly with someone about their strengths are more likely to show up as energized and motivated, and find their way into using those strengths more of the time. A simple way to start is by asking questions like:

  • When have you experienced a positive high-energy task or project recently that you felt good about? What were you doing to create success? What strengths were you demonstrating?
  • Where could you bring more of those strengths to your work this week? How will you do it?

Three different conversations. Two minutes. It can be as simple as that!

If you are looking for a little extra help igniting your people’s performance and energy, stay tuned for an exciting announcement in early February. Igniting Performance and Energy will be released as a 2-hour self-paced online learning experience that will help you and your people to:

  • Discover new ways to decrease their stress and burnout.
  • Identify strengths use success patterns and how to replicate them when frustrated.
  • Evaluate their energy and performance needs.
  • See how to create their own conditions for bringing their best self every day.
  • Recognize common universal triggers that flip their strengths into weakness and reduce their energy and performance.
  • Acquire the first three most crucial strategies used by successful people to live and work from the Optimal Zone.

Comment by A Recent Course Participant

People Acuity was really helpful boosting my leadership skills and making good use of my strengths and weaknesses.

Jose Marcelino Javier

Watch for the announcement coming soon!


3 Ideas to Help You Stay Motivated While WFH During COVID-19 Lockdowns

Both wireless internet and cell phones becoming ubiquitous, as well as mobile device apps with the capabilities of computer software, made way for the rise of WFH, or working from home. Now – with a global pandemic still raging – being able to work remotely is no longer a convenience and a rarity, but a necessity and an everyday normality for some people. While the technical requirements have been waiting for this “moment in the sun” to show their stuff, the human essentials of having a WFH position are a bit more elusive.

Since it appears that those of us able to work remotely will be continuing for the foreseeable future, here are 3 ideas to help you stay motivated while working from home during the continued COVID-19 lockdowns.

1. Stick to Your ‘Very Early 2020 Normal’ As Much As Possible

Get up at your usual gotta-get-up-and-at-‘em time, get cleaned up, get dressed in something other than pajamas, get something healthy for breakfast, and then get to work. While all this might seem either silly or unnecessary – especially if no one will see you all day – adhering to the usual routine you did before you left home for work will keep some sort of normalcy for you. It will also put you in the mindset of working. Some WFHers even take one day every week or two to get really spiffy, as if they were going to a fancy networking event or company party.

In addition to your actual person, you’ll also benefit from keeping your personal space tidy and organized. Since you’re home so much more now, you’ll find that a neat and clean environment keeps your mind the same, while a cluttered and disorganized area breeds unclear, indecisive, muddled thinking. Spending 5 minutes either at the beginning or end of the day to tidy and organize your workspace, as well as 5-15 minutes to do the same in your household, will put you in a better frame of mind for work (much like the previous tip will).

2. It’s Time to Customize What You’ve Improvised

Speaking of getting to work, it’s time to put together a more permanent and comfortable solution for your workspace, because your laptop literally on your lap while sitting on the couch with reality TV on in the background isn’t going to cut it anymore. You deserve a comfortable and ergonomic area! Whether that means a spare room or closet becomes an office, or a desk from IKEA finds a home in the corner of the dining room, depends on the space you have to work with (as well as your preferences and budget). Yes, we know it’s really comfortable to stay in bed in your PJs and work like that, but doing so can interfere with your sleep vibe.

3. Getting Going and Rewarding Your Efforts

Have you ever heard of the “10-Minute Rule”? Basically, it says that if you commit to just getting started AND spending 10 minutes on a task, you can stop after the 10 minutes… but the kicker is that you probably won’t feel the desire or need to stop working after the timer goes off. The moral of this story is: Sometimes getting started is the hardest part!

There are so many distractions at home – between TV and streaming services, quarantined kids running around, the time-wasting treasure trove of TikTok just a click away on your work computer, and a stocked kitchen full of yummy snacks, it is a wonder we actually get anything done at all. Kids have been responding for decades to knowing there’s a little treat waiting for them at the end of a difficult road, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you rewarding yourself in the same way after focusing on work for a period of time or meeting a set goal. Whether that means once a day, once a week, monthly, or otherwise, the possibilities for incentivizing yourself are endless! Here are a few possibilities you might not have thought of, but would really enjoy or benefit from:

  • A decadent dinner and/or dessert delivered via DoorDash or GrubHub
  • New desk or work area chair, comfort gel cushion, or fleece blanket
  • Binge a few of your favorite reruns or a movie on a streaming platform
  • Indulge in something meaningful to you (could be a candy bar that brings fond memories to mind, a new yoga or workout class online, or a self-care ritual you’d normally save for a special occasion)
  • Plan a time to further investigate those distractions that pop up among the day’s work (like the notification about a new YouTube upload from a channel you like or remembering you DVRed an episode of a daytime talk show because they teased a topic you’d like to learn more about)
  • Devote some energy to keeping you moving forward, such as career and skills development, and looking into new responsibilities at work to add value

Working from home or remotely offers many advantages, and we are thankful that so many people have been able to keep their jobs during the pandemic by being able to do so. The transition to WFH because of COVID-19 precautions, and the fact that it has become a long-term situation, means we have to find ways to keep ourselves motivated and on track. We hope the ideas we have shared help you!

Feedback has been phenomenal with 96% of participants indicating they were very satisfied with their learning journey. These and other efforts of SMCC leaders have resulted in several national award recognitions. In 2019 they were a top ten finalist for the 2020 Bellweather Award which recognizes leaders who are exceptional at planning and governance.

They won a 2020 League Excellence Award for the extra-mile efforts to make a difference in the lives of students. In 2019 theywere also named as a finalist for the Aspen Prize for Community College excellence. The SMCC efforts to make life better for staff, faculty, and students has definitely led to increased interdependence, energy, performance, and engagement has positively impacted relationships and results. SMCC’s commitment to these kinds of learning experiences continues as the benefits of it are undeniable!

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If you’d like to learn more about how People Acuity can help prepare your organization for our new world, please call us at 952.797.4317, email us at, or simply use the link below.

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