Change Management and Motivation

A while back, I posted about Peter de Jager’s  Seven Questions of Change Management.   My  old post is here  and here’s an updated link to de Jager’s own words.  I’ve continued to apply them especially when change doesn’t seem to be going so smoothly.   I have to say, 2020 has provided me with lots of opportunities to revisit these points.

Change can be exciting, but unwanted change, of which we’ve had more than enough recently, can sap energy and morale in your team.   Daniel Pink, in his book Drive, tells us that the old carrot and stick method of motivating people is flawed beyond repair, and he suggests three principles of motivation.  This new approach to motivation has three essential elements: Autonomy—the desire to direct our own lives; Mastery—the urge to get better and better at something that matters; and Purpose—the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

As I’m looking at motivation, and revisiting principles of change management, I noticed that de Jager’s first three questions line up with what we need to do to support purpose, autonomy, and mastery in times of rapid change.

“Why is this change taking place?”  is an invitation to connect the change with our purpose as an organization.  Does this change support our existing purpose or does it herald a change in direction?  The questioner wonders:  this change might be changing why I’m here at all.  Help me get connected again.

“What’s in it for me?” is a call to recenter autonomy for a person who may be losing some aspect of their freedom of choice in this change.   This change might disrupt choices the questioner has made before.  Help me regain a sense of agency, this asks.

And third, “What do I do Monday?” resets the feeling of competence we enjoy in our roles.   Where previously well-known skills may have to be adapted or changed, the questioner asks for direction for regaining mastery in their  position.

2020 has required us to be adaptable and patient, and we’re not done yet.  At best, supporting the motivation and morale of high performing teams is a crucial part of the job of a manager today. The alignment between these questions and the motivation that can so easily get crushed in times of rapid change is a new way in which this set of change management questions supports my continuing desire to help my team.  Also, I get a thrill when different mental models provide complementary ways of viewing the same information, and both patterns of thought become more useful with the synergy.

Looking back I realize it’s been almost 8 years since the first post I made on de Jager’s Seven Questions, and they’ve been an ongoing help to me.  So have several other things I’ve learned  from following along with Peter de Jager’s monthly webinar series.  It addresses change management and many many other topics, from project management to cognitive science to facilitation skills.   The series is available at .   The library of over a decade of past content is members-only but each new webinar is generously offered to the mailing list when it’s first issued.  Readers, I hope you’ll explore and enjoy what it has to offer.