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Unlocking Employee Motivation

In the fast-paced world of UX management, understanding your design team's motivations and values can be a challenging yet crucial task.

However, there is a powerful tool at your disposal that can simplify this process and help you connect with your direct reports on a deeper level; and itโ€™s called Life Stories.

Today weโ€™ll explores how Life Stories, a valuable component of the broader Goals & Growth Plans framework, can be used as a starting point for managers seeking a more profound understanding of their team members.

Step 1: Find their motivators

Motivators are the driving forces behind why we do what we do.

To unearth these motivators, reflection is key. Start by delving into these essential aspects:

  • Their personal values and sources of happiness.
  • An understanding of their current role and the skills they possess.

Ask them critical questions:

  • What are the key life moments that fill you with pride?
  • Which aspects of your current role are the most rewarding or frustrating?
  • Do you feel challenged in your current role? What would make it even more challenging? What isn't currently stimulating you?
  • What feedback have you received from others?
  • What areas are you looking to improve in?
  • What keeps you grounded?

Take five minutes to jot down their answers and then group them into themes, assigning each theme a name.

The goal is to identify the motivators that lie behind their life's pivotal moments, challenges, and rewarding experiences.

Step 2: Find their values

Values represent their principles and standards of behaviour, reflecting what they hold dear.

To pinpoint their core values, we'll employ an affinity diagram technique, which organizes their motivators into meaningful clusters.

An affinity diagram groups motivators into themes and assigns names to each cluster. Keep in mind that multiple motivators can relate to a single value.

Let them decide which motivator belongs where, or they can even duplicate a motivator to account for its presence in multiple values.


Sharing one another's life stories in the workplace can be a game-changer for managers. It provides profound insights into your direct reports' motivations, goals, and personalities.

Understanding the life stories of your team members is a strategic approach to better planning their goals and growth.

It serves as a catalyst for constructive one-on-one sessions, fosters closer relationships, and creates a safe space for team members to express their ideas.

In a world where time and capacity are often limited, the Life Stories framework becomes an invaluable starting point for managers.

By gaining a deeper understanding of your team's motivations and values, you can forge stronger connections, boost engagement, and lead with empathy and purpose.

Good luck!

This is part of the "Goals and Growth Plans" framework, a six-step guide that not only helps you set actionable objectives and key results (OKRs) but also aligns your direct reports personal values and motivations with your company's objectives.

This six-step framework has its roots in real-world experiments managing designers.

It was crafted to address two fundamental challenges: helping individuals reach meaningful goals and guiding those whose aspirations aren't yet fully known.


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That's it for today. Speak soon ๐Ÿ’›.



Founder @ UX Playbookโ€‹



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