Imagine a world in which the vast majority of us wake up inspired, feel safe at work and return home fulfilled at the end of the day.’ Simon Senik

As the old adage goes ‘What gets you out of bed in the morning?’ A question often used as part of the recruitment process to seek a greater understanding of what drives a potential hire. After capturing this vital information, it is put aside, and rarely do we ever check in with our new hire or anyone else for that matter to see if their motivational driver is being met?

These days Simon Senik and his golden circle model are creating quite a buzz as we look at our ‘Why’. Why do you do what you do? This is the first question I submit to teams in workshops. We stop and spend time alone with our own thoughts to reflect on our WHY. After writing this down our why is placed in an envelope and sealed for no one’s eyes but our own to revisit at a later date. Particularly in the context as educators we each have our own why. When was the last time you stopped and conducted a health check on your why?

Recently, I was invited to work with a team of 31 staff at St Clare’s College in Canberra. As part of a team building exercise, we conducted a mapping activity utilising the Motivational Maps® tool. The tool helps us gain a greater understanding of self in the workplace and how those motivational drivers that are specific to us play out in a team environment.

If you have read Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People you would recall the first three habits were based on self and the following four were focused on interactions with others.

Motivational Maps® describe, measure and monitor motivation. They make our invisible emotional drives visible and quantifiable. There are nine motivators but they are correlated into three groups. These three groups represent amongst other things, the three primary modes of human perception: feeling, thinking and knowing.

The motivators are in ordered sequence which correlates with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. At the base are relationship motivators – representing the desire for security (the Defender), belonging (the Friend), and recognition (the Star).

The next comes the achievement motivators. There is the desire for control (the Director), the desire for money (the Builder) and the desire for expertise (the Expert).

Finally, we have the growth motivators. There is the desire for innovation (the Creator), the desire for autonomy (the Spirit) and we have the desire for meaning and purpose (the Searcher). Excerpt from Mapping Motivation for Engagement, Sale & Jones 2018.

Getting back to the results from St Clare’s staff. Their team motivational profile’s highest motivator was Searcher – searches for meaning, making a difference, being purposeful and useful. The second motivator was Expert – seeks knowledge, mastery and specialisation and lastly the third motivator was Defender – seeks security, predictability and stability.


Based on the findings of what was important to the staff at St Clare’s it is essential that motivational strategies are targeted to build the Searcher, Expert and the Defender. Here are examples of Strategies for the Searcher, Expert and Defender.

Searcher strategies

  • Give feedback using internal and external stakeholders
  • Avoid meaningless routines
  • Improve regular communications at work
  • Engage in team building exercises – create a team culture.

Expert strategies

  • Use Training opportunities
  • Use Mentoring opportunities
  • Use performance appraisals to identify training needs
  • Provide quality technical or managerial coaching
  • Ask the Expert to share their learning experience.

Defender strategies

  • Communication and some more
  • Link organisational goals and achievements to personal security
  • Define roles and responsibilities clearly – remove ambiguity
  • Explain fully why change is happening.

The team data provide an opportunity for team members to gain a new perspective and appreciation of each other’ strengths. Identifying common drivers and potential sources of tension helps us reframe our assumptions of colleagues and grow team trust. Understanding the perspective of others in the team gives effect to Covey’s Habit 5 “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”.

Team Motivational Maps® provide the common language, but it is the conversation between people in the team, their reflections, their insights and their individual motivations that lay the ground work for building Cooperative Capability®, where teams enthusiastically work together towards a goal.