Improving Employee Motivation - A Case Study on How to Use a Person's Values For Better Performance

A problem with employee motivation

I was asked to carry out some coaching in a public sector organisation. I was asked to work with Kofi, an amazing character who was bright, intelligent and likeable. The issue was that his boss, Graham, felt that he took too long to complete his tasks. When the tasks were completed they were often incomplete and incorrect, this would then mean that someone else who have to spend more time on the task in order to bring the output up to an appropriate level of quality. Graham asked me to work with Kofi on a performance coaching contract to improve the quality and timeliness of his outputs.

The real reason for demotivation

After two sessions with Kofi where we discussed the reasons for coaching and the goals of the programme it became apparent that Kofi was a experiencing a values conflict. Kofi had quite an entrepreneurial aspect to his personality that was not being lived out by working in a public sector organisation. Kofi found the organisation and its people to be highly bureaucratic and process driven. Kofi’s working behaviour favoured a role where he could be an abstract and global thinker rather than a being a deep and detailed one. This had the overall effect of reducing his energy available for the tasks to be completed. I asked Kofi if he would like to carry out a values elicitation exercise as I felt that Kofi was out of touch with what his values were. At the end of the second session we discussed the results which were quite a shock to him.

A personal reflection

I could relate to Kofi and the values conflicts that he was experiencing. I had spent many years as a software engineer, thinking I had no choice other than the identical career path that was offered to me by many organisations. A career with hundreds, maybe thousands, of people responsible to me was not something I relished. As I began to discover more about myself I knew that I found more fulfillment working with people to help them achieve their goals. I often wonder how many people are in their jobs settling for an existence that deprives them of the beautiful feelings of fulfillment and satisfaction on the job. Taking a simple values exercise like the one provided here can help people to identify where there are values conflicts in their lives, hopefully they can go onto eliminate these conflicts and provide more energy and motivation for the things that are most important to them.

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