Motivational Behaviour – Three Types – How to influence them

Being able to recognise what motivates people to action is a great skill for any leader, manager or sales person. Being able to recognise and pull the triggers that motivates an individual to action is the first step in being an effective leader. Being able to “communicate” on the same “wavelength” with the other party increases our chances of building rapport and increases our chances of having a motivated and productive relationship with others.

David McClelland through his work on human motivation, identified three primary motivational needs in Humans. He categorised these needs as follows;

  1. Need to Achieve (n Ach)
  2. Need of Authority/Influence or Power (n Pow)
  3. Need for Affiliation (n Afill)

How to recognise the behaviour types

McClelland stated that most people exhibit a combination of these three needs. However some people have a strong bias to one need and this impacts on their personal behaviour when interacting with others.

n Power

A person who has a high (n Pow) experiences high levels of motivation when they are in a position to exert influence or power over proceedings. A person with high (n Pow) exhibits the following behavioural characteristics.

  1. They like to take control.
  2. They want others to listen
  3. They take an active role in committees and organisational politics.
  4. They are firm and direct and are largely unconcerned  about others feelings.
  5. There is a strong need for their ideas to prevail over others.

n Achieve

A person who has a high (n Ach) seeks achievement wherever they can. Levels of motivation are at their highest when they can see an opportunity to achieve/make progress. A person with high (n Ach) exhibits the following personal characteristics.

  1. They like challenges and enjoy getting things done.
  2. They do not like close supervision.
  3. They like to set goals by which they and team are measured.
  4. They keep to time.
  5. They are interested in facts and figures.
  6. They are not overly friendly and may be perceived as cold and calculating.
  7. Can be sporty and like to measure progress against targets.

n Affiliation

Someone who has a high need for affiliation likes to work in situations where they can be seen to foster a supportive and caring environment bringing out the best in everyone. A person with a high (n Affil) exhibits the following personal characteristics.

  1. They enjoy the company of others – social animal.
  2. Will often talk about family and friends.
  3. They tend not to like silence.
  4. They look to find new ways of meeting and making friends.
  5. They seek approval and welcome feedback.
  6. Time is of lesser importance than the well-being of the team.
  7. They like to be held in high regard by others.
  8. Talks team and not I

Whether we are working in a leadership or sales capacity it is inevitable we will meet people whose  primary needs for motivation will differ. Clearly it makes sense for us to tap into the motivational needs of the other person if we are to improve our chances of having a successful and productive relationship. Here are some tips on how to flex our personal style to build and develop rapport with the three personality types already discussed.

How best to handle interactions with (n Power) types

  1. Find ways to let them believe any ideas was theirs – even if it was not.
  2. Provide them with options – they like to be seen to take decisions.
  3. Ask them for advice – they will love you for this.
  4. Do not put them in a position where they lose face.
  5. Introduce them to other “important players”
  6. Acknowledge their status. (Mr Captain, Mr Chairman, Sir Etc)

How best to handle interactions with (n Achieve) types

  1. Talk facts and figures
  2. Keep to time
  3. Be factual
  4. Provide a challenge
  5. Show how they can be number one.
  6. Focus on the task more than the relationship
  7. Avoid time-wasting and ambiguity
  8. Provide ongoing reports on progress
  9. Focus on results
  10. Do not miss a commitment

How best to handle interactions with (n Affiliation) types

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Focus on the relationship. Smile
  3. Be interested in non work related communication
  4. Remember names and events
  5. Show how your ideas or suggestions improve team work and co-ordination
  6. Talk about team and not I
  7. Introduce to other affiliators

Not sure which type you are?

If you often hear your self say;

Nobody seems to listen around here!

I wonder what Jimmy is doing right now?

No one seems to be giving me the recognition I deserve!

suggests you are probably a (n Pow) type.

If you often hear your self say;

If only others would put in the effort

I am fed up with others missing deadlines

Why don’t they just enjoy work and get on with it!

People round here lack focus

It is likely that you are a (n Ach) type

If you often hear your self say;

We need to get the team working more effectively

There is insufficient communication taking place

Why does no one want to go for a beer after work?

this suggests that your primary motivation is (n Affil) type.


2 Responses

  1. Hi Peter

    I agree with some of the things the source refers to and to add to that it might be useful to consider the Work of Leslie Cameron Bandler who developed ‘meta programmes’ (MP’s).

    MP’s are sometimes referred to as the behavioural strategies we have developed through experience in areas like our attention, what we prefer to affilliate to, how we are convinced and amongst others, how we are ‘motivated’.

    People are either motivated ‘towards’ achievement of objectives/goals or ”away’ from the consequences of non-achievement. To add interest, MP’s are contextual and to discover how a person is motivated in a particular context you have to know that persons values (what is important to them).

    By asking a person with a particular value of ‘x’ “Why is ‘x’ important to you?” will uncover their motivation strategy. How? By listening to the direction of the communication, what it focuses on, wants or, doesn’t want/get – in relation to that value.

    In a sales or management of relationship setting, understanding your customer/employee/supplier MP’s can enable you to truly ‘communicate’ on their ‘level’ and are a valuable tool for the ability to influence others, by mirroring their communication pattening.

    So why is this useful to know? With this particular strategy, now you know the patterning contained in the answer (Toward/Away) you can communicate to that person mirroring their patterning. When seeking approval or commitment from someone, this is a very useful tool. In most communication transactions, a person is looking to get agreement and that involves understanding the benefit to agree or what the trade off is from the point of view of the other person. Once the gain has been identified and agreed, you find the value, ask why the value is important, recognise the patterning and store that information.

    In closing, present the solution, when presenting the benefits do it in the same pattern as that of the prospect – toward or away, before communicating the value identified by the person.

    Nick Hill

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