VIDEO: 60-second sustainability skill – The Motivator

Part three of our mini-series of sustainability skills videos sees London Sustainable Development Commissioner and sustainability expert Paul Toyne explain how sustainability professionals can utilise motivational skills to drive positive change within their organisation and beyond.

This new series of videos breaks down the essential skills and techniques for sustainability and CSR professionals looking to take their abilities onto the next level, delivered through 60-second pitches from a selection of highly-experienced sustainability leaders and advisors.

Each video features a different sustainability expert discussing a particular skillset, with the series running throughout edie’s ‘Sustainability Skills’ month of editorial content, ahead of our Sustainability Skills Workshop on 30 November.

VIDEO: 60-second sustainability skill – The Motivator

In the above video, filmed at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) building in London, RSA fellow Toyne discusses the role of ‘The Motivator’ within a sustainability team. How can a sustainability professional inspire and encourage people to change? And what are the different approaches that should be taken to motivate different stakeholders about different issues?

Toyne uses his career experience as former director of sustainability at construction firm Balfour Beatty and as a current London Sustainable Development Commissioner to explain that being an effective motivator is all about taking an evidenced-based approach to driving change, and having credibility.

“To make your case – whether it’s upwards with the board or downwards with suppliers – you need to have credibility,” Toyne said. “From that credibility comes the passion, the desire, the energy and the commitment that you need to champion a cause.

“Because after all, if you can’t demonstrate that, then you lose credibility and why would others be inspired to follow you?”

Paul Toyne’s top tips to become a motivational sustainability professional

– It’s not just about the ‘S’ word. You have to be prepared to motivate across a whole array of different subject matters; it’s not just about sustainability, climate change or resource efficiency. It could be about motivating people to drive social value or equality, to tackle HR issues, or to encourage the customer to buy certain things that you offer.

– Make it personal. Why is it important to be ‘sustainable’? You can ask that question to someone who has spent 30 years in the construction industry and is used to doing things a certain way. The challenge is to do things differently; to innovate and to provide a low-carbon solutions and that is going to test somebody who’s been in that environment for 20-30 years. But if you can make that construction worker realise that being sustainable is the only way that the business will have a secure future, then the message will be more personal to them.

– Know your audience. How do you get someone to move from position ‘a’ to ‘b’, where ‘a’ is polluting ‘b’ is beneficial, whether social, environmental or economic? You have to understand the difference perceptions and perspectives of people and then find the common ground or an area where those people will be motivated.

– Look for the bare necessities. Motivating people towards a sense of necessity is important. It’s not about making them fearful, but they may find the motivation in inspiring a new future; painting a different picture that’s inclusive, that attracts and rewards talent, one that provides benefit in a community – people may be inspired by that.

– Understand your end goal. You’ve really got to understand who you are trying to change and what will motivate them. For an operational director, it’s about repeat business, profitability and all those things that hit their bonus. For someone working in the post room, it’s about feeling part of the team and that they aren’t isolated and that they can do something as good as everyone else in the business to drive change.

edie’s sustainability skills month and workshop

The month of November sees edie shift the editorial spotlight from green building to sustainability skills, ahead of the edie Skills Workshop on 30 November in London (find out more and register to attend here).

From presentation skills and building the business case to the power of influence and persuasion, this month of exclusive videos, features and podcasts will pro-actively address the sustainability skills gaps and lay the foundations for businesses to take the next steps in their sustainability journey.

Read all of our sustainability skills content here.

Luke Nicholls

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie