Using the CAMP Method of Motivation to Motivate and Retain Your Staff

This past week, wearing my other hat as chamber director for southwestern Vermont, I had the pleasure to present at the Vermont Tourism Summit in Burlington, Vermont. My topic was on “Building Your Brand With Local Talent.” Now, because of my job and my background, the presentation was heavy on marketing tactics.  However, I was able to weave in some of my other passion - motivating teams.

Right, makes sense!  With all the strategy and tools to get the marketing job done, we still have the fundamental challenge of human beings leading the charge.  We still need to make sure our staff, teammates or freelancers are happy. This is where I often weaved in our CAMP Method of Motivation.

Deborah Mackin and I designed this hybrid model of analysis when we wrote Survival of the Hive: 7 Leadership Lessons from a Beehive back in 2013.

In Survival of the Hive, Zync, our queen-in-waiting, is in the process of learning the leadership lessons when she asks, “But how do you build that passion and yearning for excellence in the bees?”

The characters then work together to formulate a new model of engagement and motivation.  It’s nothing as advanced as warp speed. In fact it’s pretty easy to remember. But, it might also be one of the hardest lessons to implement because it takes due diligence, and a real, genuine, sometimes vulnerable commitment to your people (PS this works on other humans like significant others, children, etc.).  In the book Zync and her mentors develop the CAMP Model of Motivation and Engagement which in turn helps Zync build a Survival of the Hive philosophy in her hive.

CAMP is an acronym that stands for components of the model. Think of each letter and description through the lens of “if this doesn’t exist or is in short supply, people tend to not be motivated.”

C stands for competency – how well does the staff person know what he or she is doing in his or her various roles?  This is all about how smart does one feel in their current job. If someone feels like they are smart, intelligent, well-equipped to handle his or her job challenges they tend to be more motivated.  In the book (and in real life), bees actually stay a while in the hive when they’re first born in order to learn and grow in a very incubated state. The bee then moves through various roles before it’s ever allowed out of the hive.  Through its various roles (house bee, scout, forager) the bee is building its competency and confidence to accomplish the task appropriately.

A stands for autonomy – A staff person’s motivation is also based on his or her ability to make decisions.  Equally, they have to know that you, the boss, trusts them to make those decisions. This is about gradual independence (think a teenager learning how to drive) in order to have the staff person feel like they have the freedom (and therefore motivation) to make educated decisions.  In the hive each bee is free to roam over the hive, sealing any honey cap that hasn’t been sealed, sending an A-Alarm or R-Alarm if danger is present, and communicating directly with the Queen if needed. There is great autonomy with every bee in order for everyone to share the workload.

M stands for meaningfulness.  Employees who are proud of their organizations are more likely to engage. Meaningfulness is two-fold.  A motivated person must know the meaning they provide to the organization and equally, they must feel that their organization benefits the world around them.  I remember suggesting to a banker once who was struggling to keep tellers around to have some of the tellers join their best mortgage loan officers when a new couple was going through the signing portion of their first house.  The tellers need to understand that every little transaction leads up to big purchases and starting a life. They have a role in that new families purchase of a home - that’s meaningful! The bees must know what their roles are in the larger mission of the hive – its long-term survival.  Likewise, the bees must also be aware of their own meaningfulness to the whole organization. “You matter. This wouldn’t work without your help,” is a great place for you to start with your staff.

P stands for progress.  People get energized by accomplishing things that move their job, organization, career, and life forward.  Sometimes it may be little baby steps of progress (allowed to run a meeting, being named to a committee, a text from the boss on a Friday night saying “Great job!”) and other times it may be a large like a title change or a promotion. Bees also get energized when they cap honey cells, start on a new ‘super’ or survive a winter.

As leaders (whether that be of a team, group, department, or organization) we must put each of our staff members through this formula and decide where each one is and what they might need from us.  A new employee or one given a new project needs a lot of competency building and feelings of meaningfulness/belonging, whereas an older employee may need more autonomy and a sense of progress.

You know your staff best. Where do you see an opportunity to connect with them and engage them more? Think of two different levels of employees/staff that report to you, where do they stand in the CAMP model?  What type of Adaptive Coaching could you provide to lead your team to be more motivated?

We did a neat video on this a couple years back which may also help you learn CAMP: