Coaching to Explore Beliefs and Motives

Understanding What Drives Your People

Help your people make better choices.

© iStockphoto/pixdeluxe

Self-awareness is important because it helps us make the right choices in life, and it helps us understand how we relate to other people.

Having an accurate understanding of your beliefs and motives is a key part of developing self-awareness.

For example, what makes you do the work we do? (Aside from a paycheck, that is!) What choices do you make when choosing who you work with? What are your principles? What will you defend, or even fight for? Why do you behave or react the way you do, when faced with a demand or a challenge?

These questions are important, because people's attitudes are key to their success or failure at work. If their values and beliefs are strongly aligned with those of your organization, and if they're motivated by the work they do, then they're likely to be exceptionally productive. In itself, this makes it important to support and reinforce the values you need.

In coaching, working with values and beliefs doesn't mean challenging people's religious outlooks or personal philosophies. But it does mean examining the source of their energy, and exploring how to work with that energy for the best results.

While most of us think about our beliefs and values from time to time, coaching can really bring these to life. This is because coaches ask questions that coachees (the people being coached) might avoid on their own, helping them get a more accurate and detailed picture of what motivates themselves.

This article looks at how the coach, and the manager as a coach, can work with people to help them to understand their own beliefs and motives. This can help these people make better choices, so they get the most from their daily lives – particularly at work.

Understanding What Drives Us

At a shallow level, we work hard to get the things we want and need in life – whether these meet our basic needs, such as housing and food, or involve, for example, buying a fancy car to impress the neighbors. To some extent, this is true – and those needs and wants will vary greatly from person to person.

But at a deeper level, we're more complex than this. Our behaviors don't always follow the pattern of simply working hard to get what we want. So it's important for managers to be able to uncover what really drives and motivates people, so they can help them enjoy their work and get real satisfaction from it.

One way of approaching this is to ask coachees to choose and prioritize from a list of values. Coachees can do this by creating a list of their top 10 or 20 values (as outlined in our article What Are Your Values?  ), or by considering the same words as comparison pairs  . Here, the coachee would choose between, for example, Achievement versus Serenity, or Self-control versus Spontaneity.

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