Group Behavior: How to Motivate a Group

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Are you trying to motivate a group of people to partake in an activity? Do you struggle to get all the group members on board?

If you’re trying to encourage group behavior, it’s important to realize that each individual in the group has their own levels of motivation. Some members of the group will join an activity right away while others will lack interest.

Continue on to learn how to manage group behavior.

Breaking Down Group Behaviors

Each individual in a group has their own personal Action Line for any particular behavior based on their distinctive configuration of motivation and ability. For any particular group behavior, we can identify four subgroups based on these motivation/ability combinations.

  • Dolphins have high ability and high motivation. 
  • Turtles have low ability and high motivation.
  • Crabs have high ability and low motivation.
  • Clams have low ability and low motivation.

We can plot this in relation to the Action Line as follows.

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[image] tinyhabits-crabsclams.jpg

Motivation is difficult to change. Therefore, to encourage a group behavior, focus on the Dolphins and Turtles. This can be a revelation for managers or group leaders who’ve been trying to target all four groups at once.

For example, imagine you’re trying to organize a walking challenge at work. You’ve sent out an email (the prompt), but have received few responses. What do you do?

  • You don’t need to worry about the Dolphins—they’ve already replied to the prompt and are preparing enthusiastically for the challenge.
  • Focus on the Turtles. How can you make the behavior easier for them? 
  • Leave the Crabs and the Clams for now. Maybe their motivation levels will increase when they see their colleagues preparing, or maybe they’ll be more motivated to participate in an alternative group event, such as a food drive.

The Queen B Solution

This is a high-level solution for situations in which it’s not possible to go back and revisit your Swarm of Bs (behaviors): the behavior itself can’t be changed. The only option is to manipulate motivation. 

Consider the walking challenge. If it’s very important to include the Crabs and Clams, think of some different ways you could increase their motivation. Can you offer an incentive, such as free sports gear, free movie tickets, or the chance to network with high-ranked managers? Can you link the challenge to a donation to a charity that’s important to your group members?

Troubleshooting Behaviors in Other People

When trying to change a group’s behavior, our tendency is to focus on motivation first.

Flip this. Use the following sequence to troubleshoot behaviors in others.

  1. Check the prompt. Ask them: Do you have an adequate reminder?
  2. If the behavior doesn’t change, check ability. Ask them: What’s making this difficult for you?
  3. If the behavior still doesn’t change, consider motivation. Explain why the behavior is important. Consider introducing rewards or punishments (if appropriate).

For example, your employees consistently arrive late to a meeting.

  1. Check the prompt: Do they have an appropriately timed reminder? If not, set up automatic reminders, or remind them yourself.
  2. Check ability: What is making it difficult for them to arrive on time? Do they have another meeting scheduled immediately beforehand? If so, shift the meeting to a different timeslot.
  3. Check motivation: Is there something unappealing about the meeting itself? Consider tailored ways to increase motivation.
Group Behavior: How to Motivate a Group

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Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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