Motivating Employees

No Matter How Badly You Want It:

“When it seems easy, it’s like they already wanted to do it in the first place.” Martin paused. “It seems impossible when they didn’t ever want to do it. So, it doesn’t seem to matter what you want, as the manager, or how badly you want it. The only thing that seems to matter is whether your team members want to do it?”

The lights were circling in Martin’s head. The whole time, as a manager, he had been looking at motivation as getting people to do something he wanted. His mind was beginning to change.

Douglas McGregor discussed 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.

When a manager thinks in a theory y way they assume people wish to do a good job. If the employees are not doing some task the way the manager wants, the manager needs to figure out what is wrong with the system that leads to this outcome (not what is wrong with the employees).

When a manger views the problem as one of motivating workers that puts the problem within the worker. They need to be changed. That is the wrong strategy, most of the time. People want to do a good job; the job of a manager is to remove the de-motivation within the system.

Related: MotivationIncentive Programs are IneffectiveMotivation Posterrespect for workers posts

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One Response to Motivating Employees

  1. rob thompson says:

    Instead of trying to motivate employees to change, leadership is about finding ways which improve the results of the employees as a whole. Change the workplace to allow all employees to do better. Management must take responsibility for change and not try to pass this off to employees. In summary, if management hadn’t done such a great job of de-motivating their people in the first place then they wouldn’t need to work as hard now at motivating them. Avoidance of such self-inflicted problems was thus a main feature of Demings approach: ‘Optimise the system in such a way that everybody gains’.


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