26. Mar, 2015


         Motivation is Inspiration

In my view the most powerful motivating force is the recognition of one’s peers. When we look carefully around our organisation we will probably notice dramatic differences in the energy and enthusiasm our people bring to their respective jobs and work places.

The best of these workers perform their respective tasks harder and longer to meet their responsibilities and duties of either building sales, serving customers or making the work place safer and more productive. So recognising them publicly with tangible, personalized and custom rewards encourages their continued efforts and motivates fellow employees to strive for the same achievements and rewards.

It is unfortunate that not all our workers are adequately enthusiastic about the work they are assigned to perform. This is not what a modern commercial enterprise expects from the work force. These kinds of individuals need to be inspired to move with the rest of the team members.

There are a few schools of thought on the issue of motivating the unmotivated workers of our workforce. Some are possible, some are difficult and almost all can be looked at professionally. So even if we have some workers who are not able to meet the challenges facing them, we can do a lot to inspire them to do peak performance.

The one that sounds very positive is that every member of our workforce can be additionally encouraged and inspired to do better to reach the expected peak performance. I know that many successful managers have been successfully motivating the employees by giving them a clear sense of direction rather than just being preoccupied with paperwork and procedures.

Then there is another view that no matter how hard we try there are some people who have slipped into our team who cannot be motivated and should be put out of the system. This is unfortunate but sadly enough there are work places where such views are still maintained.

Of course, another view is that an eager or enthusiastic worker does not need to be pushed beyond his or her limits, hence does not need to be motivated. He or she is inspired enough to perform the duties assigned quite well with least or no supervision. These are the top performers with appropriate knowledge, information and skills. Shall I say that this should be part of our human nature.

From time to time I have had similar views on motivation but as work places and workforce have been changing so have my opinions and views seen some modifications and transformation. Now I am a liberal thinker on this issue.

I am a firm believer of listening to our people because wherever I have worked I found that the successes we achieved in productivity have come from the employees who are actually doing the work. They assisted us in developing ideas for doing the jobs faster and more economically.

However, now my views on this subject are somewhat different. I believe that motivation is similar to inspiration. It is a personal choice of a person to be motivated or not to be motivated. It must initially emerge from within a person. It is epidemic. It is self-generated and yet we have able training personnel who prepare appropriate prescriptions to tackle the issue.

If a leader is able to provide personal inspiration and has been successful in creating an inspiring work environment then this innovation can easily bring out the best in the employees by inspiring them to emulate their leader. Thus the inspired workers will be in a position to perform at their individual and collective potential.

It makes sense to me that the most powerful motivation of the employees comes from their internal inspiration and they are willing and eager to do peak performance for their equally inspired leader of an inspirational setting. Such should be the case at all work places that are following the revolutionary leaders and inspirational work environments and practices.

It is therefore the belief of some leaders to detect those uninspired and unmotivated employees early in the induction process and replace them with more suitable choices, otherwise our efforts to inspire and motivate the other members of the workforce will go in vain.

So our first task is to find out if our workers are ready and willing to be motivated. This is where I do not agree that we cannot motivate the unmotivated. At least we can give it a try and keep trying until we see tangible success.

Now the question is ‘Can our leaders give up that easily?’ and stop motivating the unmotivated. When we assess the time, effort and money that went in the recruitment process of such unmotivated people we cannot justify our stance to get rid of them so quickly and easily. So let us look at how we can motivate or inspire the uninspired and unmotivated.

I have already said that when we think of motivating the unmotivated a lot depends on the imagination of the leader. I wish to emphasise this point here once again.

If we have these types of lethargic and unwilling workers then naturally we are frustrated and would like to do something positive to inspire them to perform better for our mutual benefits. We cannot give up on the uninspired and only concentrate on the inspired workers because there are ways and strategies that we can employ to motivate all our people whether they are good, bad or ugly performers.

Each worker is an individual and has different attributes therefore needs a variety of prescriptions to get the best result. Our investment in our human resource does not justify us to forget the uninspired workers of our workforce.

Firstly, the degree and types of workers differ and we have to select and group them so that we can develop different strategies and prescriptions for each type. According to some training consultants they can be commanders, drifters, attackers, pleasers, performers, avoiders and analytical. If there are so many types of people in our workforce we cannot afford to implement one prescription for all of them.

We have to take these as their talents, strengths or weaknesses and try to take the opportunity to build on these attributes or short comings. We have to design methods to put the right people in the right place. This match making of employees and their jobs has given a lot of benefits to many modern business enterprises as well as other private and public organisations.

Secondly, we have to find out what would motivate these different types of workers. Since many of our workers nowadays look for rightful rewards for the good work they have been doing, it will pay us a lot of dividends if we rewarded their positive contributions through our sincere, authentic and genuine compliments rather than harping on criticism.

We can do two things to achieve this objective. Let us stop criticizing, condemning and complaining and start doing something positive to make all our workers become top performers. Let us reward the good ones more rather than reprimanding the bad ones.

Thirdly, we need to develop different methods for each of the groups before we take any action. Some employees need praise for the good work they are doing because they begin to feel that their participation and contribution are valued. I believe that when we tap into the strengths of the employees and allow them to do more of what they are naturally adept at, people become more inspired to show their talents, strengths and achievements.

Therefore, I believe that if the workers are doing well enough then some simple words of encouragement and praise go a long way to make them happy and when they are happy they get inspired to contribute more.

For an inspired leader all these suggestions are easy, inexpensive and definitely very motivational, hence worth giving them a try.

I still believe that there is merit in old prescription to inspire your workers where you

  • hire your workers rightly,
  • provide them clear objectives,
  • manage by wandering around (MBWA),
  • be transparent with all company financial information,
  • set realistic benchmarks for incentives to entice staff,
  • build and maintain trust, and
  • treat your workers like real people.

Many people have asked to explain how could we perform all these important tasks. These are some of my thoughts on this aspect:

  • Take time to vet all candidates properly and hire people who are qualified and fit for the job and the cooperate culture;
  • Take time to inform workers what needs to be done by what deadline because vagueness bashes motivation;
  • Take time to constantly visit various work places because employees do what we inspect and not so much of what we expect;
  • Take time and effort to share company finances because this is one of the positive steps towards inspiring workers;
  • Take time to ensure that your incentive programs for staff are right ways to entice them rather than make them inactive and lethargic;
  • Take time to increase trust by showing empathy for the concerns of workers and listen to them to make decisions because workers do things for leaders they believe in; and
  • Take time to treat all your workers as real people by respecting their personal aspirations and desires to inspire them to excel.

These are some of the strategies and prescriptions I would employ to inspire my workforce whether they are already motivated or need motivation to present themselves with top performance.

If I were active in the workforce, I would let the managers of the future focus more on teamwork to build the pride of the people we manage in achieving success at our work place. I am of the opinion that If we regard our workers more as part of our inspired team rather than only individuals, we would certainly be on the right path to inspiring our workforce to help us take our enterprise to a new height.

Ram Lakhan Prasad,   February, 2014.