Moving Motivators Exercise

So I’ve mentioned that in my 1-1s, I leverage exercises. When I’m starting off new direct report relationships, one of my favorite exercises is by Jurgen Appelo with Management 3.0 (  The site is fantastic at explaining the exercise and gaining access to a set of cards. I’m going to focus on how I’ve leveraged this material and the results I’ve experienced.

Although, I find value in the original intent of the exercise, I’ve modified it for the purposes of learning what motivates (in general) my team members.  I print these cards and then simply ask the person to “Put these in priority order from left (highest) to right (lowest) what motivates you”. After they have finished ordering them, I lay down my cards in priority order next to theirs.  I then ask a series of questions (in no particular order):

    • Share a little why you placed these 3 at the top
    • Share a little why you placed this at the bottom
    • Was it difficult to determine the order?
    • Is there a right order?
    • If you had done this a few years ago, would your order be different?
    • Would you order be different in a few years from now?
    • Is it possible to have your order be influenced by your current situation?
    • What do you see is the same between our lines?
    • What do you see is different between our lines?
    • Why is it important for me to know what is at the top of your line?
      Note:  Of course, I’ve asked other questions based on what naturally occurs during the conversation.

Here are some of the key benefits that this exercise has resulted in:

    • Example: This exercise encompasses reflection, ownership, collaboration, sharing, and awareness of motivating factors…such a great way to lead by example.
    • Discussion:  If you just sort the cards and say thank you, FAIL!  This helps set a foundation to have quality discussions about what is important to each person. This exercise helps demonstrate people can be different and they can talk about it in a healthy way.
    • Trust:  How comfortable is the person to order this in front of you?  How much are they sharing?  How much are you sharing? This is an opportunity to build trust.
    • Knowledge: You now possess knowledge about what motivates your team, which may be different than what motivates you.  Leverage this information when presenting opportunities – think what’s in it for them not why I would want to do this.

As a result of these experienced benefits, this continues to be one of my favorite exercises.

How might you leverage this exercise?

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