Tonight was the media launch of the book Psychometrics in Coaching at the University of East London. Together with some of my colleagues, I contributed a chapter entitled Coaching with the Motivation Questionnaire, and was invited to attend the event and say a few words about that chapter. While it was still fresh I thought I would try to capture this elevator pitch about the issue, in the hope that it would be a useful entrance point to others. I will present it as active speech, but this is inevitably a paraphrase and encapsulation of what I said. I’ve also added a short section that didn’t make it into my presentation, but should have done.
The issue of gathering motivation data for coaching is an important one – and one that I feel is often neglected. Motivation in coaching is often considered primarily as symptom of other, more causal factors, rather than as a root source of problems in of themselves. The reason it is relegated to this role is, I feel, due to an impoverished view of motivation that ignores the texture of individual difference that occurs in reality. Difficulties in personal impact are more visible and attract our attention in working with clients, and the same can be said for non-optimal behaviour, and even to some extent issues around personality, such as a mismatched leadership style. Motivation is the invisible adversary, that may not directly emerge as something can be seen but, due to its role in energising, directing and sustaining activity, may have genuine effects on an individual’s contributions.
Moreover, individuals can contribute effectively and seemingly be successful at work, while all the time experience a lack of engagement and alignment with the work that they do. These individuals are likely to be unhappy underneath everything, and may be on the road to derailment; for the organisation, these people smouldering under the surface pose a real risk, as they are often very capable and may be depended upon to continue to deliver.
The Motivation Questionnaire seeks to draw out understanding on an individuals current levels of motivation and the sources from which they derive energy within the workplace, and breaks down the construct into eighteen scales.
These are organised into four different domains, the first of which, Energy and Dynamism, deals broadly with drives and levels of energy in the workplace: how busy an individual likes to be at work, the degree to which they are energised by competition, or challenging goals. The three other domains identifies the more specific facets of work that are likely to provide energy: the Synergy Domain, including the need for Recognition for good work, and the motivation derived from feeling your activities are in line with Personal Principles; the Intrinsic Domain, looking at aspects of work content and structure, such as Interest in the content of work, and the degree of Autonomy in organising that work that energises the individual; and the External Domain that ascertains the degree to which Progression within or beyond the role, increasing Status and Material Reward act as energisers.
The MQ report outputs identify the degree of motivation for each scale (showing, as is typical of psychometric tests, whether an individual is typical of a comparison group, or is more or less motivated) and critically, whether this equates to active motivation, no motivation, or a demotivator, which differs across scales. As an example, if you are the polar opposite of someone who is motivated by a very open, changing, ambiguous working environment, you are likely to be actively demotivated if you are placed in that environment. Compare this to the individual who is the opposite of someone who is motivated by money, money, money; doubling that person’s salary is unlikely to make them actively demotivated.
The Questionnaire can be usefully used by coaches on themselves, to increase self-awareness of what draws them to coaching and what they ought to be aware of; for example, being motivated by Affiliation and working alongside others may mean you do not seek occasions to provide critical feedback, which may be necessary in certain instances. The coach also gets an insight of what administration of the Questionnaire feels like for others, such as coaching clients. It can also be used to identify areas of fit and mismatch between coach and client, such as degree to which parties are energised by structured sessions.
Foremost, the MQ is a tool to identify areas where coaching clients are disengaged or facing challenges on the basis of their areas of energy. By gathering an individuals self-appraisal via a robust scientific approach, you the coach are provided with a wealth of information in an understandable format, organised and providing a nuetral language with which to enter into dialogue with the client. It provides another crucial tool in the repertoire that can enhance self-awareness and thus lead to enacting real, productive change for individuals.
The session was recorded and I understand may be placed up on the UEL’s website at some point. I will try to provide a link when this happens, so you can hear me say this, though possibly with less clarity!
From my perspective, I’m trying to speak for more than just the utility of a particular tool. The MQ is the one I am very familiar with, and think it does a great job in drilling down in to the notion in an intelligible and intuitive way – I’m very happy to be using it. But I’d be just as happy to see coaches inquiring into the motivational status of their clients using other methods, if they did the job.
If you have any remarks or questions on this topic, do drop me a comment. If you were at the book launch, or you have a copy of the book, I’d love to hear what you thought!