Motivation is response
Motivation ± the internalised drive towards the dominant thought of the moment. You cannot motivate anyone ± you can only create a situation to which individuals will respond because they choose to. The ingredients of motivation are within each. When we are awake the motor is running and our motivation for action is responsive to three signals ± neutral, forward or reverse. With stimulus, both internal and external, everything is believed to be possible. But what is happening in the workplace?
As one chief executive said: “Beyond the critical factors I look particularly for motivation when I select ± other qualities are important but none more so. This is what I want to buy''. The applicant who wants the job knows this and at interview demonstrates keenness and enthusiasm and asks good questions (this is selling what the customer wants). Let us assume that both parties are sincere. An offer is made and accepted. The appointee brings motivation to the position and continues to show this during the first days, but the motor is now hovering over neutral. There are two possible scenarios: (1) This is the more common scenario. At the selection interview the qualities and experience of the applicant have been explored in depth, and perhaps tested, but the interviewer has not explained what the organisation really does and how it functions, or described clearly what the appointee can expect to be doing and the culture and values which influence the activities. Perhaps what follows on the job is not what the appointee expected or is prepared for and, unless this changes for the better, the “situations vacant'' pages may soon be revisited. Meanwhile, routines will be followed but initiative is blunted. (2) Here, the selection interview was a two-way discussion, views and ideas were exchanged and there was frank disclosure of relevant information. This and the introductory process stimulated motivation and the workplace realities reinforced the appropriateness of the selection. The motor is in drive and the appointee stays and grows. An over-simplification perhaps ± but sufficiently true to cause some rethinking of the selection process. How high is turnover during the first and second years after appointment? At what cost (both direct and indirect)? Success depends on keeping and developing talented staff. One defective manager can drain the power from your organisation. Meanwhile at . . .
Organisations are under constant and heavy pressure to accomplish more and better with less. But what returns are employers getting from their salaries and wages account? . Output not what it could be?
. Meets requirements but not much more?
. We feel it is good?
Is this what is needed for continuing marketplace success? But if greater effort and better results are needed from the same resources, how will these be achieved and maintained? If you were to ask your people “would you work harder if we introduced a performance bonus scheme?'' What answers might be expected? More important, what would this tell you about present effort and commitment? But perhaps one should not ask this ± for to do so would create expectations of early implementation. Before throwing money at an apparent but unidentified situation, which we tend to do, the question should be first asked whether the workplace meets the standards which surveys of employees in recent years, here and overseas, have shown to generate high morale and to stimulate motivation. These include: . Doing something worthwhile ± a goal. “My work is interesting and varied. I am part of a team. We understand why the work is important and the standards set are reasonable.'' . Doing one's share ± participation. “Others in my group depend on me. My ideas are listened to. The boss discusses things with us.'' . Counting for something ± recognition. “They recognise me as a person and for what I can do. I get credit for good work and help...
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