Motivation is a key (well, also a keyword) to open the most terrific and surprising doors.

Motivation is more important than skills (don’t get me wrong: skills are important).

Motivation is what helps people to continue working even if all around us, the world collapse.

As a team leader, Motivation is nothing that you can give to people.

But you can inspect what motivates your team(s), to find out how to inspire them, and how you can help them maintaining their own motivation. Human being is really impressive when it goes to enthusiasm: it only depends upon the environment, and when this environment is properly setup, this motivation and enthusiasm can grow infinitely by itself. Anyway, building a strong environment aligned with a team is not “simple and always funny”.

Once we agree on that, here’s a little help to understand the motivation factor of a team, based on Dan Pink’s book and three main elements of motivation: purpose, autonomy, mastery.

Motivation workshop

1/ Prepare your workshop

AgendaBuild your agenda. Be very clear on what you want to achieve. Motivation is not a simple topic. All of us feel, think, sense motivation in our own unique perspective. It doesn’t have the same meaning for all of us. And because of that, this workshop may be a bit confusing, disturbing, specially when you’re stuck in an environment where motivation is never a topic for the management.


2/ Take time to introduce

I spent 20 minutes to present why personal and shared motivation is important for the team.

10 minutes based on the context of the team:

  • where are we?
  • what prevents us to move forward, faster?
  • what the team current mood?

Some developers had left the team – or announced it – few days before, and I feel that a quick situation review was clearly needed.

10 minutes watching an overview of Dan Pink conferences and book. This video is empowering, really. And even if it may be unusual during a workshop, I definitively consider that this show helps people to understand what we are talking about and to take some distant from the daily work and stuff.

After this, a break of at least 20 minutes is needed. People will need to think a little about what they’ve just seen. If you don’t let their minds elaborate peacefully with enough time, items collection will become rough and not so relevant. Go with them, have a coffee, a cigaret all together. Listen to them, they may have questions, reactions. This little break may help them to start exploring effortless their own motivation. Obviously, this break is for them, not for you.

3/ Collect ideas

  • 15 min for individual exploration.
  • 15 min for items presentation.

CanvasCollect ideas in the same way you’re used to during a retrospective, as long as you’re using sticky notes and a canvas. For our session, I divided the board in 4 areas:

  • purpose,
  • autonomy,
  • mastery,
  • and, like in the learning matrix, thanks (because thanks are always good to give and to receive).

And I let everyone choosing what they wanted to add. Sometimes, they wrote wished. Sometimes, it was more about things already in place. Every idea, every thought can be interesting, and you’ll regroup items later to give them meaning.

4/ Assemble, organise, and draw the team

Regroup itemsRegroup the sticky notes in themes. For each new wish, requirement, discuss it with the team to find some actions if those can be found easily.

You should see the cartography of what will enforce and inspire the team.

Involve the team in this arrangement process.


After all, you can make all this themes explicitly visible with some drawing. Here, for example, the final step of the workshop:

IMG_20151126_161406 (1)

4/ Be prepared to work hard (or harder)

Now, you’ve got some key. And now the real work starts. Finding the key is not so hard, but inspiring people, building this environment which allows motivation to blossom is painful, but also rewarding.