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Utkarsh Sinha

Building Blocks: Motivation and Performance

The group activity on building blocks was very insightful. The task began with
individuals deciding their own targets and then agreeing on a target (number of
blocks stacked vertically) that the group needs to achieve. Each group had a
doer and 2 motivators. The doer in the group was assigned the responsibility to
stack the blocks vertically and the motivators had the responsibility of
motivating and providing guidance for completing the task. The doer was blind
folded and had to use only his/her left hand to stack the wooden blocks. Given
the constraints of the task, the role of the motivators became very crucial. After
the completion of the activity certain very important points came to the fore. We
did a quick analysis of what went well with the groups that achieved their goal
and why some groups could not achieve their target. One common theme that
emerged from the successful groups was the high level of trust that the doer
(person building the blocks) had on the other 2 members of the group who were
providing guidance. The level of involvement of the group members was crucial
as they not only provided strategy but also kept motivating the doer. The group
members tweaked their strategy on the fly based on the performance of the
doer in order to achieve the final objective

Before the session, I believed that ability was the sole criteria for success,
however after the session my perspective has changed. High-performance is a
function of the interaction between and individuals motivation, ability and the
environment in which an individual operated. Even if one of the factors are
missing, it would lead to sub-optimal performance. I could relate to the learnings
with my past experience while I was working as a software developer. We had a
team of 5 people who were working on a project. Each Individual was clear of
the tasks involved and we divided the tasks among ourselves based on our
areas of expertise. Each member focused on his/her activity, however the
project started to become complex due to frequent design changes by the
customer. We knew that delivering this project successfully would be difficult if
the design changes are not frozen. As a team, we shared our concern to the
project manager and asked him to help us out by getting the design changes
frozen. Despite our several requests, things did not change and we had to do a
lot of rework. Things started piling up and the work backlog increased
significantly. Although each individual in the team was highly skilled and
efficient our motivation to do the work started dropping. Our level of ownership
and involvement decreased sharply. Eventually the project that we delivered did
not meet the customers requirements and was deemed unsuccessful.

As a Manger, its very important to keep the morale of the employees high and
keep them motivated. Motivation level might drop if the team does not have a
clarity of the Goals that needs to be achieved. Responsibilities of the team
members should be properly defined else it may lead to ambiguity as well as
lack of commitment. Giving timely appreciations (positive strokes)will boost the
morale of the team members. A manager should get involved in the team
activities incase issues are highlighted by the team members. This would send
out a message to the entire team that they not alone and the success is
important to both the team and the manager. A
manger needs to recognize that people are capable and show confidence. A
manger should set challenging and realistic tragets for his team and also need
to convey very clearly why he thinks that the team will succeed.