“Good managers don’t motivate others. Motivation comes from within the individual. It is not something that one person does to another. What a manager must do is to find ways to enhance and reinforce the motivating forces within their employees. Employees who hear their bosses talking about motivating them may worry about being manipulated rather than motivated.”

Thomas Quick, The Managers Motivation Desk Book, John Wiley, NJ, 1985.

team

Don’t forget

The Five-Is of motivation

  1. Interesting work. Not every aspect of a job can be interesting, but smart managers make sure that every job has interesting components.
  2. Information. Tell staff how the company makes money, how they’re doing at their jobs, and other information you can offer.
  3. Involvement. Let employees help make decisions.
  4. Independence. Give them a chance to work on their own, using a flexible schedule.
  5. Increased responsibility. More responsibility means more opportunities and more visibility in the company. All three motivate staff.

Bob Nelson in The Power of One.

The Incident of the Stubborn Calf

Ralph Waldo Emerson had a reputation for being an unruffled, patient, good-tempered man. He was an eminent historian, noted poet, and respected American philosopher.

On this particular afternoon, however, he was far from unruffled, patient and good-tempered. For nearly half-an-hour, Emerson and his son, Edward, had been trying to persuade a calf into the barn.

No amount of pushing and shoving would entice the animal through the door.

In a final desperate effort, Edward circled an arm around the neck of the calf and Ralph pushed from behind. They struggled to get the obstinate heifer to move, but with each pull and push, the stubborn creature locked its knees and firmly planted all four feet into the ground. Emerson’s clothing by now was soaked with bovine sweat. The perspiration streamed down from the poet’s face. The great Ralph Waldo Emerson, dripping frustration, had lost his persistent and sedate spirit.

A young Irish peasant woman happened by. She immediately sensed the Emersons’ predicament and asked if she could be of assistance.

‘If you think you can do anything, then you just go right ahead,’ came the exasperated reply.

The woman walked around to the front of the calf and stuck her finger into the calf’s mouth. The calf followed her into the barn.

The son was amused, and Emerson himself was intrigued with the simple lesson the young peasant girl had taught him.

You see, most people are like the calf. You can prod them, push them, pull them, even kick them-and still they won’t move. But if you give them a reason they understand and a motive for their action, they will peacefully follow.

 

Set up ‘ABCD’ awards to recognize superior achievement

A simple way to recognize employees who put in the extra effort is to institute the “ABCD Awards”.

ABCD stands for: Above and Beyond the Call of Duty. Anytime an employee does something extra (stays late to finish a project on deadline, cuts costs, etc.), give him or her an ABCD Award. With the award (in the form of a certificate perhaps) could go a gift voucher for lunch or some other small item. Or, allow employees to accumulate ABCD Awards and, when they have a certain number, they are entitled to a paid day off or a grander prize.

Adapted from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Managing People, by Dr Arthur R. Pell (Alpha Books)

 

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