Primed to Perform: From the Why to the How

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In the article Entitled “Primed to Perform From the Why to the How” I discuss what is coming up with the development of my projects.

As business leaders, we’ve learned the importance of starting with the why, but for many of us, the how has gone unanswered. Now authors Lindsay McGregor and Neel Doshi’s new book, Primed to Perform: How to Build the Highest Performing Cultures through the Science of Total Motivation, is here to deliver it. This new best-seller confirms the ideology that why your employees work determines how well they work, then applies concepts derived from behavioral psychology to unveil a step-by-step methodology for making it happen.

Throughout their 20 years of hands-on experience working with Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits and universities, McGregor and Doshi observed that high-performing organizations, regardless of the industry, all had something in common. It wasn’t as though the cultural distinctions in high-performing organizations such as Starbucks, Nordstrom’s and Southwest Airlines had gone unnoticed, simply that they had gone unmeasured.

As former McKinsey & Company consultants, McGregor and Doshi understood that to be able to replicate the dynamics that contribute to a high-performing workforce, they had to begin with understanding the individuals. Their research spanning dozens of organizations and thousands of employees resulted in what they identified as six primary motivators, or reasons why people work. These findings serve as the basis for Primed to Perform and exemplify the concept of Total Motivation, their proprietary solution.

Of course McGregor and Doshi’s six primary motives aren’t all created equal. The first three – play, purpose and potential – are direct motivators. The kind that strengthen the adaptive performance that enables organizations to thrive in good times and bad. This seems intuitive enough. The big news lies in the explanation of remaining three factors – emotional pressure, economic pressure and inertia – which actually weaken total motivation and undermine performance.

In other words, the financial incentives, the performance reviews, the rewards used by so many managers to motivate employees – all those actually provoke opposite response. These indirect motivators serve to weaken performance long-term.

The authors learned that within environments that maximize the first three motivators and minimize the others, individuals exhibit those hard-to-measure but highly coveted adaptive traits of creativity, problem-solving, persistence and collaboration. This phenomenon is the authors call total motivation, or ToMo for short.

Primed to Perform further stresses the importance of balancing an organization’s ability to perform not only tactically, but to be able to adapt effectively to change. The equilibrium of tactical and adaptive behavior is what enables an organization to sustain high levels of performance, even throughout periods of challenge or change.

Primed to Perform goes on to describe the three most common leadership styles, and why the two most widely used are, in fact, the least effective. The book very clearly outlines the problem, demonstrates the solution and makes a fact-based business case for why it matters. Leaders that adopt a Total Motivation strategy create high-performing organizations, yet research reveals that most managers today lack the knowledge and methodology to create such a culture.

The bottom line is that managing your team or workforce using Total Motivation strategies improves culture and is directly tied to measurable increases in profitability. ToMo leadership matters, and Primed to Perform is a critical tool to show you the how.

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