We’ve all had moments of inspiration. Times when we see the possibilities we have before us and vow to make lasting, meaningful change. But as everyone who has made New Year’s resolutions knows, this level of determination is difficult to sustain.
Leadership development programs and engagement initiatives within organizations follow a similar pattern. Every initiative an organization pursues has a moment of elevation that motivates and inspires. But invariably, these moments don’t last. (Harvard Business School, 2016)
Similar to the traditional engagement initiative, organizations that utilize the ProHabits platform go through a moment of elevation. That is, participants receive an inspirational message from leadership inviting them to align their personal growth with the goals of the organization. After the moment, the difference created by ProHabits lies in the enhanced opportunity for follow-through.
By providing the opportunity to make daily commitments to personal growth, we’ve identified distinct ‘engagement profiles.’
From these engagement profiles, we’ve come to identify three core profiles that pop up time and again. These being the Disengaged, the Motivatables and the Habiteers.
So, what do these profiles mean, and what are their implications for engagement strategy?
Habiteers have a mindset that puts personal growth first. They are self-motivated to grow and would likely be highly engaged in the initiative regardless of engagement strategy. Subsequently, they are our most active participants. Any healthy initiative will have about 10 to 15% of their participants a part of this category.
This is a vital subset of participants who should be recognized for their efforts. Further, they should be encouraged to act as ‘culture champions’ to spread the word. Although their engagement is unlikely to be impacted by minor tweaks, they should still be recognized so that they know their efforts are valued. However, if the proportion of Habiteers does drop below 10%, then this is a sign the initiative requires immediate support.
Motivatables are in between Habiteers and the Disengaged. They are curious and want to know more, but they aren’t certain yet if they are going to fully commit. You have to earn their engagement.
Motivatables are a fresh and enthusiastic bunch, but their motivation requires upkeep. Like most good things, you have to sustain Motivatables to keep them.
Motivatables, like the other two categories, follow a pattern. For reasons ranging from fear of being left out to simple curiosity, Motivatables will offer the initiative their engagement early on. However, engagement from this group quickly falls off within a couple of months if nothing is done to sustain their involvement.
Tending to make up about 55 to 60% of participants, Motivatables comprise the majority of most teams.
Therefore, for an initiative to have an impact on a critical mass within the organization, the strategy should focus on enrolling the participation of the Motivatables.
The Disengaged are those who see no personal benefit in the initiative. It’s often not that they do not wish to grow, but do not believe that the medium is relevant to them. Company cultures have a great deal of impact on the rate of disengagement. At its lowest, we’ve seen disengagement drop to a few percent, whereas at its highest it can reach up to 30% or more.
From what we’ve seen on the ProHabits platform, complete disengagement can result from a number of circumstances. Circumstances such as impending retirement, being situated outside of a core team, and having ideas for growth that fall outside the scope of the initiative. People in these situations simply are not what any initiative’s strategy should focus on.
Some of the Disengaged, perhaps, could be coaxed to participate, but winning this group over requires a great deal for little reward. Although feedback and insights from the Disengaged can be beneficial, the engagement strategy doesn’t benefit from focusing on this group.
Occasionally, we get a bit of confusion around the name ‘ProHabits’. We send new MicroActions every day, how are these actions supposed to become habits if they aren’t routinely practiced? Well, the key is that it’s not the individual actions that are becoming habits, but the commitment to daily growth. The habit becomes the daily quest for growth opportunities — not any individual action. Each day becomes an opportunity to go out of one’s way to be a little bit better than the last day.
When it comes to Habiteers, Motivatables, and the Disengaged, it’s mostly the Motivatables that are ripe for developing this new habit. Habiteers are primarily reinforcing their existing willingness to grow daily but are rewarded with enhanced recognition for their efforts. ,
This need for Motivatables to develop a habit of personal growth has greatly impacted the way we begin initiatives within organizations. To develop the best model for Motivatables to get engaged, and stay that way, we discovered Kurt Lewin’s three-step change theory. (MindTools)
Lewin’s three-step model of change follows the following trajectory: unfreeze –> change –> refreeze. First, you unfreeze — that is you break away from old habits and create a new situation. Next, you introduce new actions and behaviors with the new environment. Finally, you sustain the new situation so it solidifies as the new norm.
When ProHabits is introduced within an organization, a similar process occurs. First, a moment of elevation — participants are called to break out of their routine and inspired to do so. Then, ProHabits is introduced as an initiative and participants are invited to make personal growth a habit. Finally, it’s sustained through daily reminders and calls to commit.
Motivatables, the people on the fence, should be the core of any engagement strategy. This, of course, leads us to the question: “how do you motivate the motivatables?”
We’ve identified a few ways:
Although visible leadership involvement is not a guarantee that an initiative will succeed, leadership’s absence almost always dooms engagement. We’ve seen time and again — leaders enforcing an initiative from on high while remaining visibly disinterested. If teams don’t see that their leaders care, why should they?
This is why the leaders pushing forward the initiative should be among the most visible within it. The counter-productive mindset that leadership is somehow above their own initiatives has to go. If leaders want their cultures to grow, they have to grow right along with them.
There are many conditions surrounding initiatives that can affect them — such as existing culture and leadership. However, we can’t overlook the substance of the initiative itself.
The substance of any effective initiative will offer something of immediate value to the participant. The more the ask falls outside their existing daily responsibilities the more you’re just asking for more work. The key is to integrate daily actions into their pre-existing schedules so it shapes their day positively — not add to it.
Data from the ProHabits platform has helped to confirm this. Activities that elicit the greatest response are simple but meaningful opportunities to grow. Rather than obstructing the flow of the day, these activities are said to help people recenter their focus on personal growth.
When people see that their diligence and hard work won’t be ignored the more they are inclined to keep it up. It’s common sense, but often organizations do not have an easy way for their employees to be recognized consistently. Having a platform with a leaderboard that clearly shows the most engaged solves this.
Recognition has been shown to be a strong positive element in the workplace. According to Harvard Business Review, Recognition placed second (after personal achievement) among factors that deliver job satisfaction.
There is, however, a further benefit to offering recognition. When leaders can clearly see those within their organization who are most active in pursuing their personal growth, they can more easily find culture captains.
Culture captains are internal champions for organizational values that give a face to the ideals. Either by discussing their involvement in the initiative or by actively including others in it, culture captains keep the enthusiasm alive and fresh in the minds of the Motivatables.
What we call gamification is essentially a system of rewards and skill levels coupled with a sense of competition applied to what would otherwise not be considered a game. This offers a different mindset for participants — what might otherwise be drudgery becomes fun.
The benefits of gamification on engagement has been shown in a number of learning domains. This is confirmed by the research (US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health, 2017) demonstrating gamification’s positive impact on engagement with online programs. These successes have been seen in language learning (Duolingo), cognitive skills building (Lumosity), and in a range of successful education apps.
The gamification elements on the ProHabits platform have shown that these techniques have yet another use case. Elements of gamification has proven to be a major source of motivation for ProHabits participants. Within organizations, we often see the emergence of a friendly, but serious, sense of competition. In fact, among the most frequently asked questions are those related to their completion streak (the number of days a participant has committed and followed through with an activity) and how to maintain it.
Within any initiative an organization may pursue, different patterns of engagement inevitably emerge. Our experience and data have shown us that there are three basic profiles. Understanding these profiles is essential as they offer a target for leaders to aim their resources at. Among these profiles, those we call ‘Motivatables’ are the most fruitful group for leaders to focus their strategy on.