Stop Demotivating Employees

Why Your Employees Are Losing Motivation by David Sirota, Louis A. Mischkind, and Michael Irwin Meltzer from the Harvard Management Update:

Most companies have it all wrong. They don’t have to motivate their employees. They have to stop demotivating them.

Clear, simple and right. Douglas McGregor explored this topic well in 1960. He explained theory X management (managers believe the workers will do only what they are forced, coerced into doing) and theory Y management (managers believe the workers want to do a good job and the managers job is to help them do so) in his excellent book: The Human Side Of Enterprise.

According to the Harvard Business School article:

To maintain the enthusiasm employees bring to their jobs initially, management must understand the three sets of goals that the great majority of workers seek from their work – and then satisfy those goals:

  • Equity: To be respected and to be treated fairly in areas such as pay, benefits, and job security.
  • Achievement: To be proud of one’s job, accomplishments, and employer.
  • Camaraderie: To have good, productive relationships with fellow employees.

One goal cannot be substituted for another. Improved recognition cannot replace better pay, money cannot substitute for taking pride in a job well done, and pride alone will not pay the mortgage.

It would be nice if we can do a better job in the next 46 years of incorporating theory Y style into our management systems. The article provides good ideas on what management should do. While not amazing new ideas, the ideas presented are good ideas that management far too often fails to properly apply.

18 thoughts on “Stop Demotivating Employees

  1. Interesting read. I would propose that this devaluation problem can also occur between organizations within the same company. I think the classic example of this problem organizationally occurs between IT departments and the rest of the company. The feelings of marginalization that can occur when a business unit treats another group as “necessary overhead” instead of a valued partner can be equally demoralizing as the items describes within the article.

    Although I’ve experienced this first hand from an IT perspective, I can see the same effect on HR, Finance, and Training, etc. There still seems to be a significant number of companies that fail to recognize the damaged relationships that can be caused between groups; the money makers versus the non-money makers.

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