Motivation or manipulation

Good managers will always know what
makes their people tick — the mainsprings of their motivation.
There’s an endless list that ranges from naked ambition, supporting family, looking after an elderly parent, building reputation, studying, or training for sports events.
But when it comes to pressing the right motivational buttons, “Good managers don’t motivate others. Motivation comes from within the individual. It’s not something that one person does to another,” say authors Flanagan and Finger in Just About Everything Manager Needs to Know.
What you have to do is find ways to enhance and reinforce the motivating forces within your employees.
Employees who hear their bosses talking about motivating them may worry about being manipulated rather than motivated.
The key is to understand that all motives are different. While ambition drives some people, others may indeed be driven by money. We’ve all heard versions of this scenario:
Liz: “You’re crazy quitting your job here John. The work might not be as challenging as we’d like, but it pays better than any other job in this area.”
John: “You’re probably right, but I couldn’t hack it any more. The job was driving me up the wall. Even though I don’t earn as much in the new job, I enjoy it. There’s something new every day and I’m glad I made the move.”
As most management students will know, early ‘scientific management’ thinking on motivation by American engineer Frederick Taylor was that all workers were motivated by money. So his method for dealing with motivation was to advocate more pay for more work.
While money can’t be overlooked, these days we know people respond to many other things than money.
For instance workers have social needs, they want to belong to groups, they want to be recognised and appreciated, they want to feel safe in their job, and they want to realise their full potential.
“Money is very short term motivator,” says leadership coach Brent Larsen of IAS.
“You have to get people to find their own personal interest in situations. If you’re going on holiday you work harder, if you want house you start to save more, each needs to be motivated.
“We’re seeing motivation coming from leaders who want to create great environments for people too, and that’s what leadership’s about — creating an environment with positive behaviours.”

Keys to motivating:
Involvement
“Getting people involved in what you want to create is very powerful,” says Larsen
This is where vision is so important. It’s about clearly articulating the vision for people to actually see that there is way to go, he adds.
“Once you enrol people so they can see personal interest in it for themselves — you can work together in partnership. This is key leadership skill.
“Previously people came to work and left their brains at the door. These people may have been leaders in the community outside work, maybe sporting leaders — but they came to work and basically left their brains at the door.
“Organisations can’t afford that any more. They need to leverage the human capacity inside the organisation. They can’t go out and get more people. You’ve got to work with people to get more from them.
“We find good leaders clearly articulate their vision and enrol people. Once people are enrolled they’re also energised and when you have groups of people who are energised their performance really starts to grow.”
Larsen believes many organisations have visions that are too long and complicated. “It’s difficult to remember them. So it must be clearly articulated, along with values they live by. You have to have trust in your senior leaders — I’ve seen many companies who talk good story but don’t walk the talk.
“What about motivational top ups. It’s easy to get dragged back into day-to-day routine and lose motivation.
“You need to continually create opportunities for people to find self-interest.
“You must show interest, run climate surveys, do 360 degree reviews, all the things necessary to maintain the feeling for people’s needs.”

Awareness
“Being aware of staff needs is important, but remember you’re running business, and it needs to have financial outcome as well so you can’t always be totally employee focused, or you’ll go out of business.
“But if you are employee-aware, and say ‘this is what we can do for you, are you willing to come on board with us,’ then they can choose.
“But it’s only by being in partnership with your people, you’ll understand what they do want.”

Mentors for motivation
When motivation is flagging, some people will find mentoring programme is fillip to stimulation.
“CEOs for instance — we all know it can be lonely at the top, so who do they go to. Who energises them?
“It’s either mentor or someone they’re comfortable discussing things with — other business colleagues.”
Larsen talks of work IAS has done with children recently — mentoring programme with 350 children. He cites the case of one particular teenager who wasn’t achieving at school, but with mentoring last year passed all his school certificate subjects, and won three awards — “that was through mentor contacting him once or twice month”.
IAS is continuing its mentoring programme this year with volunteers who’ve been on their courses acting as mentors.
“These children want to get ahead, but they often just don’t know how. Research we did said they had lot of issues, from being depressed about the future, peer pressure and other communication issues — things like they can’t communicate with teachers and parents. So we’ve built programme around those issues. So far it’s done well. Out of the 350 evaluations we got back, only one said they wouldn’t recommend mentoring.”
I think mentoring is certainly motivational help. “When people are either challenged or inspired that motivates them to perform and the more they participate the more they’re motivated.”

Responsibility
“The reality is of course that with the best will in the world, investing in people isn’t easy.
“With most business decisions you can put case before the board with clear outcomes. With projects like investing in your people and building great environment, it’s less clear to point to quantitative outcomes.” Larsen is currently working on measurement indicators for this.

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