What do you do when two coworkers just don’t get along? How can you find the root of the friction? Learn how one team found a way to renew employee engagement and eliminate a lot of frustration by uncovering intrinsic motivation at the office.
A few months ago, I started coaching at a five-year-old company of about 20 people. There, I met “Juliet.” She’d been working for the company almost from the start, mainly as a tester for the mobile application, which she knew through and through.
However, last year she started as a part-time teacher in a local school and was only with us two days a week now. Her responsibilities now include testing and office administration.
When I met her, she told me about another tester in the mobile team, “Romeo” who, she said, was horrible to work with. Furthermore, she added he had a way of speaking to women that was disrespectful. Since I hadn’t met him yet, I held off my judgement.
A few weeks later, I met Romeo and, in my role as full-time Scrum Master for the mobile team, I observed him working with the team. I didn’t notice any specific behaviour, maybe he had trouble expressing his questions clearly in French, but that was the only thing I noticed. However, Juliet and Romeo were continuously rubbing each other the wrong way, up to a point where they refused to talk to each other.
One day, we had our Daily Scrum where Romeo was remote. He had already asked everyone to speak up since the microphone wasn’t great. Juliet said that she would be unavailable for testing since she’ll had admin work to do. Romeo asked her to repeat, and Juliet said: “Oh come on, it’s for Romeo, he doesn’t care!” When she’s asked a second time, she exploded and left the room, saying she was going to work the rest of the day from home.
The next day, when she was busy moving stuff from one office to another within the same building. I saw she wasn’t really motivated by what she had to do, and we started to talk about her purpose in the company. She said things like: “You know, I have a university degree, and all I’m doing is admin work!” or “Whenever I come for testing, all the fun backlog items have already been taken/reserved by the others! They leave me the boring tasks.” It became apparent that she didn’t feel valued as a team member.
Finding a purpose
I asked for an hour of her time to more deeply discuss her role at the company. I brought Moving Motivators in, and we used them in order to visualize the important points for her. While going through the motivators she placed in order of importance, I asked what would happen if one of the motivators would not be there anymore. Based on this discussion, we were able to discover the things she loved doing like teaching and knowledge sharing. She also discovered that Romeo wasn’t leaving the boring stuff “for her,” but rather chose to work on the fun stuff first whenever something was ready to test. He didn’t wake up each morning thinking how to make her life horrible.
The next step was to put that into the context of the company, and we discovered there was a documentation gap. Customers were frequently asking questions, but no centralized documentation or knowledgebase was kept up to date. So, she discovered that was something she’d love to do, as well as work on the onboarding of new employees.
A few days later, Juliet came to me to tell me that she understood her reaction to Romeo had been extreme because she saw him as someone “stealing” her job. Once she realised it was not the case, she was able to see more clearly that he was just there to do what was asked of him. He still had his quirks, his specific character, but wasn’t a bad guy at all.
So, thanks to the Moving Motivators, she was able to find a new purpose and heal her difficult working relationship with Romeo.
Do you have a story about how motivation and misconception drives behavior at work? Tell us below!