There are three key elements to high performance within a work team.  The Direction they are shown, the Skills they possess, and the Motivation they have in their work.

Direction and Skills are typically rational, black-and-white issues … they’re either there or they’re not, and if they’re not you can simply do something about it (i.e. communicate and train).

Motivation is not by any means that simple.  People are motivated in many different ways, and individuals’ motivations change according to their own personal, external and internal circumstances.  So is it a wonder that Motivation and Morale is one of the biggest headaches employers face when it comes to driving performance.

This is a topic I will return to in other Blog posts, and it is not one that is easily covered in a couple of paragraphs.  However let’s kick off with a simple rule of thumb…

One fact is that some people are motivated by moving TOWARDS pleasure, while some others are motivated by moving AWAY FROM pain.  So, as a simple example, the “Away-From” salesperson who is faced with not making her mortgage payment this month because she’s short on commission will go out of her way to make those sales between now and the end of the month to make sure she isn’t under threat of eviction or foreclosure.  The “Towards” salesperson will get up on the 1st of the month and power straight into full gear, because she is looking to the 5-star 3 week Caribbean holiday she is planning for next winter.

Understanding whether someone is an Away-From or towards person helps you the employer understand what approach is going to work best … the carrot or the stick.  So let’s start with you … what motivates you – the moving away from pain, or the moving towards pleasure?  Are you driven by the desire to succeed or by the fear of failure ?  There’s no good or bad answer to this one, it is only understanding that matters – because only through that understanding can you come up with the rewards and incentives you need to operate at peak performance.


I was introduced to Level Up through a local business networking group about 18 months ago.  Transitioning from an HR career to Executive Search in 1997, I set up my own partnership over five years ago.  Although loving what I do, I couldn’t help feeling that we needed a bit of a refresh and have more focus on why our offering was different in a very crowded marketplace.

As an HR professional by background, I have met many business coaches; some better than others.  Although admittedly a little sceptical, I met Graeme Crosbie for coffee and soon felt that he ‘got me’ and understood why I was at a crossroads. We talked about how we might work together and what his kick start programme could offer. 

Having spent my whole career In the corporate world, I found I missed having a variety of people to brainstorm with.  Graeme has proved to be a strong business mentor.  The fact he also had a corporate background and had not worked with any other search firms proved to be a real asset.  He challenged my thinking and assumptions; we went back to basics and talked extensively about business and personal goals and how these could be achieved within realistic timelines.  

The kickstart programme was extremely useful.  For the first time in years, I found I actually dedicated quality time to thinking about what it was I wanted Theron to be.  We focused on what actually made us different; I stopped apologising for being a “small boutique” but learnt to embrace the good things about offering a bespoke, personal service to a few quality clients.  Of course I already knew the theory, but having to articulate USP’s and strategy to someone else makes it more ‘real’ and something you do as opposed to just having good intentions and never getting round to it because work takes over.  

Apart from growing revenue, we have had many successes including the redesign and relaunch of the website with genuine USP’s; extending our client base; recruiting a new Partner and maintaining focus and momentum.  

We are now on an Ontrack programme; meetings are less frequent, but they prove a useful medium for staying focused and doing the things I committed to do.  Some things continue to stay at the bottom of the pile, but I’m not sure that will ever change.  

Some of my network did not understand why I needed to see a business coach, especially with my background.  I have found it incredibly refreshing, not least because Graeme has helped me to look at things differently and has help me to add real value to my business.  I would absolutely have no hesitation in recommend him to other business professionals but only on the basis you want to take a cold hard look at yourself and realise that growth and change will only happen if you want it to.  Graeme can help, challenge and give an alternative perspective, but it’s down to you to do it.  

Fiona Makowski Managing Partner, Theron LLP March 18, 2018