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Different strokes for different folks: Speak to the motivations and drivers of your audience

  —  23/11/23

Ryan, a shift supervisor, had two operators in his team who were nearing retirement. Despite them both having 18 months to go before their end dates, the two men were already in what was jokingly referred to as the “departure lounge”. They’d checked out. They were doing the bare minimum and they weren’t interested in learning new things because “We’re out the door in 18 months anyway”.

Ryan knew he had to do something to try to keep the men engaged until the end. Having two members of his team coast for the next 18 months had the potential to impact productivity within the crew, not to mention put pressure on the other younger operators and cause resentment.

So, rather than join the chorus of behind-the-back grumbles about the pair’s work ethic, or address it in a forceful performance-management way, Ryan held coaching conversations with each man to address the elephant in the room. Instead of skating around the issue, Ryan acknowledged the challenge of staying engaged when you know retirement is on the horizon.

He then asked each man (both of whom had worked there for more than 30 years and were very proud of their connection to the industry) what sort of legacy they wanted to leave. Ryan tapped into the men’s motivations and drivers. Although both had blustered about just being there to collect a pay check, they genuinely did care about the shape they left the crew in.

This led to Ryan encouraging the operators to use the last 18 months of their employment to share as much of their valuable knowledge and experience with the other members of the crew as possible. He spoke about them passing on a legacy that they and their older colleagues could be proud of after so many years of work.

Not only did this help re-engage the men and give them purpose in their final months, it also ensured a vital knowledge transfer to younger operators, so those 60 years of experience didn’t just leave the building in their heads.

Tapping into the motivations, drivers, and values of the person or people you’re speaking with is key to communicating with influence.

When you speak the other person’s language and tailor your message to address the things they care about, they are more likely to listen.

Leah Mether is a communication and soft skills trainer obsessed with making the people part of leadership and work life easier.

With more than 15 years’ experience working with thousands of clients, and an acclaimed book to her name, Leah knows what it takes to communicate under pressure. Like you, she knows the challenge of conflict, personality clashes, and difficult conversations.

Leah is renowned for her practical, engaging, straight-shooting style. Utilising her Five Cs® model of communication, she helps leaders and teams shift from knowing to doing, and radically improve their effectiveness.

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