FLOW at work

Unlocking the Power of Understanding: What Motivates Your Colleagues?

Whether you are a team leader, new in a work role or a student, understanding another person’s “why” is an essential collaboration and life skill. 

Some of our clients are natural super communicators and collaborators. They understand that through curiosity and genuine interest in another person, they can deepen their understanding of what motivates others. This understanding creates connection – firstly, when you show genuine interest in someone else, they are more likely to bring their best selves to the situation. Second, when you understand someone’s deep needs, you can help align their work with their passions and bring energy and focus into their roles. 

Consider the concept of peak experiences – those moments of intense focus and productivity. These experiences, whether at work or in your studies, can be transformative. They not only enhance your performance but also deepen your understanding of yourself and others.

Check out the seven-minute video by Steven Kotler below. 

As you do so, consider someone close in your life. It could be someone close to you at work or a friend or relative. Do you know when they experience a mindful flow state – inside or outside of work? 

Now, think about the practical questions you could ask to delve deeper into these peak experiences. If you’re part of our coaching programs, envision how you could incorporate these questions into your regular work catch-ups. These could be during your frequent check-ins, project planning meetings, work reviews, or group huddles. You can empower yourself and others to unlock their peak potential by asking the right questions.

  • Do you know when your colleagues are performing at high energy and in focus? 
  • Ask open questions about the specific aspects of their role they enjoy most and why. 
  • Delve deeper into their reasons. For example, does the activity align with their outside passions and interests, help them use their qualifications or satisfy their need to connect with others?
  • What are the conditions which support this flow state for them? 
  • How do you enable them to be in this state more often?
  • What practical steps could you take to allow this to happen? For example, setting aside focus time to let them get on with their job or recrafting a project to enable them to play to their strengths better.

Steven Kolter’s talk summarised

Please think of the people you work with and ask how you can enable their flow states.

When we are in a flow state, our relationship with time changes – our pre-frontal cortex engages, and we block other things out. We become more intuitive and creative in those moments, adding value at work.

The golden rule in FLOW is to ensure that the challenges set slightly exceed our current abilities – we strive without flipping out (see below).

It can take 15 minutes or more of lost productivity if a flow state is interrupted.

There are 22 (at least) flow triggers. Do you create the conditions for these flow triggers at work? These include:

  • Create the conditions for individual and group focus – know which environments enable focus for you and the team – they vary between people (some people need noise and others silence)
  • Dopamine is part of the reward loop—it’s naturally stimulated by novelty, complexity, awe, risk-taking (intellectual, social, or physical), curiosity, and passion. Do you create the right conditions at work to tap into this reward system?
  • The more your work role is aligned with purpose, the more intrinsically motivated you become—you want to achieve more, and this means that you are driven to work in a style that is most effective for you (you have some autonomy in the way you achieve your goals) and mastery (you strive for excellence).

Questions to consider

Conversations with colleagues fall under several different headings. Each is important in enabling strong connections at work.

Consider the following:

  • Having reviewed the FLOW video and read the summary above, what actions will you take to create the conditions for FLOW in your team?
  • What open questions could you ask to deepen your knowledge of your colleagues?
  • Which colleague/colleague will you seek to deepen your understanding of?
  • What actions will you take to understand how you can understand your colleague’s need for autonomy? For example, ask them how they want to receive feedback or how they want to discuss goals and measure success. 
  • What actions could you take to enable your colleague to become a master in the area of work that puts them into a flow state? For example, you could provide the most up-to-date tools or enable further training. 

Ikigai – The Japanese secret to success

The beautiful concept of Ikigai explores flow differently. Use the model below to deepen your understanding of your colleagues – the perfect alignment of what they love to do, what they are good at, what is needed and what will boost their career.

Consider whether you are enabling your colleagues to achieve autonomy, competence, and positive work relationships. This simple model can help guide how you connect with, delegate work, and craft roles.

Share these insights with friends and colleagues