How do you find out what motivates a Senior Management Team? What if you could improve how well they work together? And increase their impact?

This SMT had worked together as a management team for some years but in recent times emotional outbursts, tensions and an undercurrent of complaints had increased to the point where some managers were threatening to leave. The Director was concerned that this was getting in the way of their performance as a team.  A lot of time was being wasted on these issues and some of the managers were sometimes unfocused and distracted because of these issues, and concerned about the future of the team.

No one wants to go to work and feel like this. Feeling like this for any period of time will have a negative impact on wellbeing and motivation – and before you know it there’s a downward cycle with performance. For some this can lead to stress and even create mental health issues. It’s easy to think that it’s part of work life for teams to have differences and have some ups and downs. That this is common when people work together. But this was not normal for this team.


The aim was for this team to work better together again. Ultimately this would result in a happier, more motivated team collectively and improve individual wellbeing. The Sweet Potato Consultancy’s role was to facilitate this.

How would this aim be achieved?

By finding out what motivates and drives each individual within the team, how well each of them is fulfilled at work, and each of them understanding what motivates the others.

This would be achieved through using a tool called Motivational Maps. Individuals complete the short online questionnaire and this generated data for both individuals and the team. The data for each individual was shared in a series of 1:1 meetings. This was followed by a team meeting where the findings from the team Motivational Map were explored collectively and a plan devised.

What was found?

  • Low motivation identified in some individuals.
  • The team had high motivation collectively as a SMT (although this would be higher still if all of the team were similarly fulfilled).
  • Motivators that potentially clashed – explain reasons for the differences within the team.
  • Strong shared motivators within the team (important to build on).
  • Individuals used their Motivational Maps as a basis to have deeper conversations and share what would make them happier – for example – for some it was more freedom, others it was more feedback or more stability.
  • That the absence of some particular motivators could be an issue for this senior team – no one within the SMT was strongly motivated by managing others – bearing in mind they are all managers this was significant!

Action Plan

  • To use the knowledge about how each of them was motivated in order to meet both their own and each other’s particular needs. This improved communication between the team, greatly improved understanding as to why people did what they did and subsequently reduced tensions
  • To make decisions to adjust roles in order to build on people’s strengths and what makes them happy and subsequently most effective
  • To use the insights about the leadership of team to explore how best to utilise leadership within a team that doesn’t particularly want to lead
  • How best to motivate and reward the SMT in ways that best suit the individuals
  • To offer coaching for the manager with low motivation
  • The managers planned meetings and actions to begin to work more independently from the director in order to give him more freedom (meeting one of his needs)


This was a fast and economical way of achieving profound and sustained change and increase the happiness, wellbeing and performance of this SMT. Once given the information about their motivators and the impact it was having the team were able to take ownership of the process and create the changes themselves.


Adelle Shaw-Flach is Director of The Sweet Potato Consultancy.

The Sweet Potato Consultancy is passionate about workplace wellbeing and mental health. We work with forward thinking leaders to reduce people, skills and financial waste by creating workplace cultures where people and organisations thrive.

Find out more about the work we do in wellbeing, mental health and stress and Motivational Maps at   


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