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Micro-Motivation: A Powerful Technique to Inspire Your Team

by | Aug 21, 2023 | By Karin Hurt and David Dye, Winning Well |

Inspire Your Team By Isolating Habits
and Behaviors Through “Confidence Bursts”

What if you believe your strategy is achievable, but your team is skeptical if they can pull it off? You’ve set and reinforced clear expectations and clearly communicated “what” you need them to do and “why.” And they’re still thinking, “Easy for you to say. We’re the ones that actually have to DO THIS! How do you inspire your team and build confidence that they’ve got this?

Inspire your team, by helping them taste the win.

One of the best ways to inspire confidence and performance is to help your team taste the win. Isolate one or two critical behaviors. Then spend a day making it really fun to try out those behaviors and experience success.

Break down large-scale change into micro-moments of success

When leading large-scale change, some of the most important work involves giving people the confidence and competence to be successful. Even when people have the skills, if they don’t feel confident and excited about their ability to be successful in the new arena, they will be reluctant to try.

You can build more confidence and competence in your team by training them in intervals, or short confidence bursts.

What is a confidence burst?

The idea is to create a full-court press on a given behavior during a finite period of time (usually one half or full day) to prove what is possible at an individual and organizational level. Scaffold people with lots of extra attention, skill building, fun, recognition, and celebration. The risk is low-it’s just one day. It doesn’t feel like a big commitment to change. Once people experience success with the behavior, their confidence improves and the ceiling of what they perceive as possible moves a little higher.

Every time we have done this, the results have been head-turning and remarkable. The best part comes in the after-glow discussion. “If we can make this much magic on this day, why not every day?” (A great example of this is in our book, Courageous Cultures, chapter  6).

The idea is to create an intense focus on the given behavior to prove what is possible at individual and organizational levels. Just as with repetitive drills in athletics, practice builds capacity and confidence.

We find that a few sets of these intervals spaced one month apart can lead to remarkable and lasting results.

You’ll know the behavior has sunk in when the impact of these “burst days” begins to dwindle but the overall results stay high. People internalize the behaviors and the focused days are no longer necessary. The value of the behaviors has become an intrinsic choice. You need less effort to inspire your team because they’re doing it themselves.

Examples of Confidence Bursts to Inspire Your Team

You can use this confidence burst strategy to help teams build their capacity and confidence for many different skills and initiatives. Here are just a few examples of how you can use micro-motivation events:

1) New Documentation System

The entire engineering organization migrated to a new documentation system to better serve clients and respond to support inquiries more quickly. Technicians were unfamiliar with the software and reluctant to use it at first because it cut into their customer-facing hours. Three half-day confidence bursts improved everyone’s familiarity with the system, helped the technicians quickly get the data they needed from the system, and decreased the time it took to document accounts.

2) Empathetic Customer Service

The small contact center supporting customers for a regional energy company was having trouble. Agents were struggling to establish rapport with customers and quickly lost customers’ confidence. The contact center organized confidence bursts focused on the first 40 seconds of every call. Team leaders and directors first brought the agents together to identify a list of specific ways to build empathy and customer confidence at the beginning of calls. On confidence burst days, leaders listened in, pulled calls, and paid attention to satisfaction scores in real time, celebrating and coaching every thirty minutes as the agents’ (and customers’) confidence grew.

3) Staffing Fulfillment Team

As LinkedIn’s influence in recruiting and hiring grew, a staffing company knew they needed to help their team get comfortable with the platform to identify and find suitable candidates for placement. The fulfillment teams were comfortable with their established methods. They weren’t using the new platform because they didn’t know how to have the same level of success. So, they were understandably reluctant to have a dip in their commissions while using an unfamiliar process. Seeing this, the director helped the team identify and establish best practices from early adopters. Then she ran a version of confidence bursts with the entire team practicing the new methods and experiencing the results that followed.

How to Hold a Micro-Motivation, Confidence Burst Day

Here’s a step-by-step process for creating a confidence burst day.

  1. Pick one or two tangible skills to work on.
  2. Schedule the special day and create anticipation.
  3. Begin the day with energy and fun; make it feel like a holiday.
  4. Set specific, measurable goals that can be achieved that day.
  5. Hold training and focused skill-building throughout the day.
  6. Have your team members with the most expertise in the skill work side by side with those still learning.
  7. Celebrate every little success in a big, public way.
  8. Communicate specific success stories, including the “how” behind them.
  9. Celebrate and debrief at the end of the day on what worked differently this day and what was learned.
  10. Begin the next day with a reminder of key learning

Your Turn

Focused confidence bursts are an effective tool any time you need to inspire your team with a taste of what’s possible, either to prove a new system, build familiarity, or cultivate confidence in their ability to succeed. We would love to hear from you: how have you used these skill-building, confidence-enhancing moments of micro-motivation to help your team?


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Karin Hurt and David Dye

Karin Hurt and David Dye help human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results. As CEO and President of Let’s Grow Leaders, they are known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. Karin and David are the award-winning authors of five books including, Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Workplace Conflict. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. David Dye is a former executive and elected official. Karin and David are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

Be More Daring


Get the FREE Courageous Cultures E-Book to learn how

7 Practical Ways to be a Bit More Daring

Be More Daring


Get the FREE Courageous Cultures E-Book to learn how

7 Practical Ways to be a Bit More Daring

Leadership Training Programs