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This blog is the third of three examining motivation in the work place. The first examined why we go to work? The second looked at what makes us work willingly and well and discussed Hertzberg’s work on true motivators, whilst this blog examines what demotivates us in the workplace.
What irritates you at work is likely to be similar to things that irritate others. In this blog I hope to show what these feelings are based on, and will refer to Hertzberg’s work again, and crucially examine how the manager can stop staff feeling this way.
My favourite analogy of Hertzberg’s “Hygiene Factors” is as follows: Picture a small isolated town in a warm area. The local authority have a sewerage plant to cater for the needs of the townsfolk. When it works the townsfolk pay it absolutely no attention, they just flush the loo. They remain healthy because there is no chance of contamination from the sewerage works. If the local authority spend millions on the works, new bells and whistles etc, the population DON’T get any healthier, they just carry on flushing the loo! However if the works starts to malfunction the population can become really ill very quickly, and will complain.
That’s the crux of the concept behind the hygiene factors. There are some things that need to be in place, at a satisfactory level, so that people don’t become demotivated. Hertzberg’s study suggests that these are listed in order of importance:
1 Policies and administration
2 Technical supervision
3 Relationsip with your boss
4 Work conditions
6 Relationships with your peers
Which of these can managers control? At first glance many say that the hygiene factors are “out of their control”, but a closer examination can quickly dispel this notion. Whilst most of us don’t set work based policies and administration procedures, as managers we CAN let others have access to these areas. We can make staff aware of what is there to protect and enhance their prospects. For example, how many of your colleagues will know that there are paternity rights and what they really are? How do your colleagues access these? There may be some information around certain polices or procedures around the workplace, much of it may be gossip, rather than based on fact, and this can alienate staff, before the true facts are known. Shouldn’t your job as the manager be to inform them of this information, or how they could access the relevant documents?
Technical supervision usually falls into two camps, either you am the expert, and feel you should know everything about the task, as the company employed you for the role! Or OMG the staff know more than I do, so I’ll have to blag it! Why not be honest and open? Share your expertise and recognise innovation can come from innocent questions like “Why do we do this?”
Hertzberg identifies having a work based relationship with your boss, as being necessary and expected. This is not about pub time (but that can be good), but it’s about being listened to, being spoken to, being allowed to contribute. Even if the person is consistently wrong, killing of ideas, kills off business and can alienate staff.
Work conditions are important. Mangers don’t usually paint the office, control air conditioning, or sort out car parking. However, the best ones will make sure that everyone knows why the office hasn’t been painted, why it’s a bit too warm and why the car park is flooded. Sharing information is vital to building up good working relationships, and for staff to see the manager as honest and trustworthy.
Similarly, mere mortals in companies do not get to set the level of staff salary, BUT as a manager you can make sure that people are paid accurately, paid on time and that their holiday leave is booked properly etc.
If people are having a difficult time with their colleagues, but still trying to do a good job, they need support. How long can you really expect them to keep going if the office atmosphere is fraught with tension? Mangers must keep an eye on work place relationships. Ignore them at your peril.
The previous blog looked at true motivators, such as achieving at work, being recognised for your contribution, as well as experiencing a sense of personal growth, and it’s pretty obvious that a lack of these things are not great for staff motivation. What brilliant managers need to think about, is what is within their sphere of influence? What will keep the sewage plant working so that the population will stay well! It may seem a thankless task, but it’s necessary.
Building on the previous blog which looked at Maslow’s study in determining why people go to work. In this article, I’m going to reflect on what makes people work hard willingly and well. In my experience it isn’t money!
In the 1960’s Frederick Hertzberg undertook a study into workplace motivation, and his findings were published under the title ‘One More Time, How Do You Motivate Employees?’ which still hold true today.
Hertzberg identified the following “True Motivators”
3) The work itself
6) Personal Growth
In the previous article, we discussed the door to motivation being “locked from the inside”, and that the best managers can have the keys to unlock motivation in others. As managers and leaders we need to be aware of these keys so that we can empower our colleagues to work hard willingly and well. In practice, what sort of things can we do in addition to communicating effectively with our colleagues?
A successful manager will ensure staff have the resources and skills necessary to meet or exceed their objectives. It is offering support and monitoring progress towards set goals. A good manager will remove roadblocks, resourcing issues and other trivia to allow their team member to achieve.
The manager recognises the staff member’s hard work, and acknowledges this privately or sometimes publicly. Teams should be encouraged to celebrate the successful work undertaken by one of their members. This positive environment allows individuals to feel pride and confidence in their work, and will motivate them to continue producing similar results. Manager need to factor time into their diaries to actively do this. Telling someone “that’s what you’re paid for…” is a massive wasted opportunity.
3) The Work Itself
Many of us just love doing the job. We receive enormous satisfaction from a job done well, (see link below to Dan Pink). There are plenty of people that feel this way about their role, despite the fact that managers may try to interfere in the work process, by controlling or stifling staff efforts. What might happen if managers positively challenged people to really excel? To really do the best they could?
A manager’s role to let staff get on with their tasks in a supported and resourced way. Why do some managers keep hold of particular tasks that should or could be delegated to others? Fear? The thought that they might be seen as lazy? Concern the other person might do a better job? Get the keys to motivation out! Delegate appropriate work formally with a clear explanation as to why, and ensure it’s not seen as dumping! If transferred correctly, this level of responsibility could be motivating.
In the previous blog we examined the idea that status and being seen as an expert were important reasons why some people went to work. Herzberg highlighted the possibility of advancement as a key motivating factor. For many people the challenge of progressing in a team or company, with the chance of promotion, not matter how slim or distant, encourages them to work harder and to engage more fully with tasks. Managers should make staff aware of these possibilities and how individuals can attain them.
6) Personal Growth
It is hugely motivating to be able to do something one week that seemed impossible the week before. Personally, having learnt to plaster a piece of wall a couple of weeks ago, together with having the recognition of this achievement from others inspired me to continue developing my DIY skills. I also felt personal pride in my work. Managers need to recognise individual’s areas of personal or professional development, and offer their praise.
Hertzberg’s True Motivators are as important today as they were in 1968. The best managers and leaders know this and keep the keys close to hand. Everyone’s motivation to engage in work related tasks is slightly different, but an excellent leader can influence by using the six top True Motivators.
Dan Pink develops this further at the link below. My next blog will be about what dissatisfies us most at work and how the good manager can influence them.
This blog entry is one of three. In this one, I am going to look at one theory of what motivates us to work? The next blog will address what motivates us to work hard willingly and well and the third what demotivates us at work?
Having been involved in the professional development of people for nearly 30 years, I can categorically tell you that if someone doesn’t want to be motivated by external forces, they won’t be. I can also be pretty certain that the KITA school of motivation (Kick in the A***), will get a person to do a task, but not without resentment, and certainly won’t encourage them to do it of their own free will.
Previously we have looked at how power might be played out at work. The KITA approach can be used with Coercive Power, as well as Positional and Social Power abuse and can therefore be unpalatable to the receiver. These approaches will get the job done, but won’t necessarily encourage someone to continue to do the task of their own free will, or empower them to do able to do it.
So, what will motivate them? The saying “the door to motivation is locked from the inside” is true. As managers and colleagues in the work place, we have to understand why different staff members do their jobs. There must also be recognition that what may motivate one person, may not do so for another. This is obviously complex, but the premise we will examine in this article, is based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, in which five levels of human need are portrayed as a pyramid.
In today’s society, most people go to work because they need the money. I read recently that many people are “only four months of no income away from the breadline”. If that is true then Maslow’s ‘Physiological/Biological’ first or most basic level is probably achieved in 2014 by having a steady income, which allows us to buy food and pay for a warm shelter.
The level of income may well then allow his second stage to be achieved, where we need to address ‘Safety/Security‘ needs. We will have the money needed to pay the mortgage or rent, be able to keep our home secure, and perhaps be able to save to allow a monetary buffer, if work becomes unstable or the cost of living rises.
I come across many colleagues who are quite financially stable, mortgages paid off, kids flown the nest, to whom money is not the main driver to come to work. So what is? Cast your mind back to the halcyon days of school. What was the motivator to go? Well, the basic two reasons as discussed above, were met by your parents (or whoever provided for you). So, apart from going to school because it was compulsory, what else motivated you? The majority of us went to see friends, to socialise, to build social networks and perhaps find a relationship (help with that @therealme_PDP).
Similarly, many of us go to work because we like the social aspect of it. The third level in Maslow’s hierarchy focuses on ‘Belonging and Love‘, in which the majority of people need, and relish, being part of a team, belonging to a group, having the camaraderie that can come from working with the same people each day. I meet colleagues who are working far longer than their paid working day. When this is examined, it is not always because they are genuinely overloaded, but more about being part of something that has a purpose.
If your life has that social aspect away from work, you might need something else to motivate you in the workplace. In my expanding work with graduates, on Graduate or Government based Fast Stream programmes, I see this more and more. Financially these new entrants may be reasonably secure, socially very active and happy, so they use work to achieve something else. Maslow’s fourth level of the pyramid focuses on ‘Self-Esteem and Sense of Achievement‘. This is where the workplace is used to gain status or respect, as an individual becomes recognised for being really good at something. People may want to be seen as being the fixers, the experts, and to use work as a place to begin building professional reputations, which in turn will enhance their self-esteem and confidence.
Maslow’s highest level is described as ‘Self Actualisation / Self-fulfilment’. This is when your behaviour is driven by your desire for personal growth and fulfilment, rather than external factors or pressures. Many people will spend most of their lives striving to reach this level, and maybe there is something to be said for retirement, in which people feel they have the time and financial resources to really engage in the activities they wish to do, regardless of how crazy they may sound!
If you agree with Maslow’s theory, then each of these different levels will need to be understood, in order to motivate yourself or others at work. To paraphrase Ricky Gervais “you can’t learn the cello when you are eating out of bins!”
Next Blog – What makes us work hard, willingly and well!
Power at work
As promised from a previous blog relating to assertiveness and dealing with people that have little regard for your rights.
There are various theories about how “power” plays a role in the work place, having an understanding of these theories might put you in a better position to be assertive.
Here are a few indicators that I find useful when the situation looks a little tricky.
POSITIONAL POWER – The obvious power play, this derives from the grade, rank or position that you hold, it’s about status. Many senior managers in organisations use this deliberately to get things done, that probably should have been planned better. “I am your boss and I am telling you to do it!”, “your family commitments need to wait, this deadline must be achieved, just get it done”. We see this Power play in everyday life. Why do Policemen (It is only men) wear helmets? So that they stand out, so that their status / power is readily observed. Some police forces would only recruit above a certain height to exacerbate this. (lets not get drawn into how well you do the job or how you behave, just give us big ones, ho hum) In a court of law judges sit higher than everyone…uniforms in the military.. uniforms at work.
EXPERT POWER – “I am the recognised guru in this field, challenge me at your peril! For I am the font of all knowledge”. Unfortunately many people confuse expert with length of time served, therefore you can be perceived as the expert just because you have lived long enough. How many colleagues do you know that have 10 year’s experience, but actually only had 1 year, but repeated it 10 times! Learning little in the past 9 years.
COERSIVE POWER – The ugly use of threats to get people to do things. Often, but not exclusively, comes with Positional Power, frequently an abuse linked to social power.
MORAL POWER – “We must do this because it is simply the right thing to do”. A hard power play to argue against. The usual failing of this is that the right thing to do is often based on subjective feelings or misdirection, rather than objective facts, trends etc. “The Government of Syria should not gas civilians”. Well of course not, a point that makes absolute sense. However why was it OK to kill and injure civilians using other methods? And why were we silent then?
SOCIAL POWER – This is a bit more delicate. How do you discipline a colleague when he is having an affair with the chief executive? Some people deliberately use their patronage to behave badly towards others. Although I have recently seen an example where a competent hardworking colleague was getting some really poor work allocated to her. The reason? Daddy is a senior manager and her boss doesn’t like Daddy, because Daddy got the job the manager wanted.
PERSONAL POWER – Some people are just really charismatic, regardless of their position. I am sure that all of us recognise people at work, home or in the pub that influence enormously because of their personal power.
I hope that makes sense, just a taster. Now think about your tricky situation, what are the powers being used? How can you use that knowledge to your benefit WITHOUT VIOLATING THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS? Richard
As we mentioned in a previous blog you cannot be assertive without knowing what your rights are and knowing the rights of those you communicate with. It’s a pretty common thing to hear “I know my rights!” very popular in every school up and down the land and also in many work places. What are these rights?
We can look back 800 years to the first bill of rights and the signing of the Magna Carta or even a bit closer to 1998 and the Human Rights act. I suppose that if you felt you had your Human Rights violated there would be a legal route for you to seek redress. But we aren’t talking about those legal rights.
Choose a life context, the work place? The pub? The home?
Ask yourself what rights do you have, that might not be covered in law? For example at work you have the right to say “no”, and so does everyone else. You have the right to be adequately resourced to conduct your job. You have the right to work hard. You have the right to be managed. You have the right to manage.
Interestingly along with these rights come a couple of other things. Responsibilities and Consequences. So if you assert your right to say “no” at work you have a responsibility to do that in a way that does not violate the rights of others. You should also look at the consequences of your assertion. I have the right to say no, the responsibility to do it in an appropriate way, the consequences…… be sure you know them before you assert yourself, it puts you in a powerful position, regardless of your seniority. It might also allow you to select the right time, place and media for your assertion.
Understanding this is central to influencing, communicating effectively and managing people. When those around you violate your rights you need to be clear about the violation, your responsibilities and the consequences, permitting yourself to be assertive and get good outcomes.
Frequently we see people misunderstanding and defaulting to the aggressive “just do it!” the submissive “yes”. Maybe it would be useful to explore what happens, classically people put up with the aggressive because it’s about power abuse, and people fail to recognise the application of power. Would it be really helpful to understand, recognise and deal with the 6 most common power plays?
Power coming soon……..
Today I tweeted and asked what is the difference between self esteem, self confidence and assertiveness. These are key attributes that everyone needs in order to feel positive about themselves and to allow you to establish and maintain good working relationships with others, regardless of whether these are business or personal relationships.
Self esteem is “a realistic respect for, or favourable impression of oneself, or self-respect” , and at times could be “an inordinately or exaggeratedly favourable impression of oneself” @Dictionary.com.
Do you have a healthy respect for yourself? Do you recognise your favourable qualities? If you do, you can refer to these qualities when you are feeling low, rejected or when someone has made a negative comment about you. The problem occurs if you have a negative self-image and so low self esteem. If you think you’re unattractive, too fat, too thin, aren’t very clever etc, then you have no positive reserves to fall back on, and this can stop you taking risks or pushing yourself forward, whether in a job or a relationship.
In my career of teaching, training and coaching, I have used an idea of Jenny Mosley’s (Quality Circle Time), to get people to really think about how they see themselves. Take a moment now, and think of all the positive things about you and imagine each one as a gold coin. Do you have a hefty pile in your hand or only one or two to fall back on. If the latter is the case, why would you take a risk and possibly fail? All it would do, is confirm that you were unattractive, s/he wouldn’t like you etc. If it was the former, then you would most probably say oh well, it was worth a try and dust yourself off and move on!
Self confidence is “realistic confidence in one’s own judgement, ability, power etc” or “an excessive or inflated confidence ” in oneself @Dictionary.com. I was discussing the ability to come across as confident, yet still have low self esteem, and low self-confidence in some areas of life, with a group of people the other day, and each outlined an area where they felt they wouldn’t succeed in, including having an intimate relationship with someone. From an outsiders’ perspective, these women appeared confident and assertive in their ability to take on challenges, most had well paid jobs, and made sound judgements regarding work and areas of their personal life. However, each was quick to point out that “I’ve never been very good at…”, or “I can’t…”. and quickly became irritated or despondent when questioned further and encouraged to see beyond this potential stumbling block. You may have low self esteem in the area of relationships, but be very self confident in other things such as your ability to organise a house move, or to negotiate the best price when buying a new car. You KNOW and TRUST in your ability and judgment in these areas, and will appear confident to others and they will assume this confidence applies to all areas of your life. Where are you less confident? Do others know about this? If not, how do you mask it and is it to your detriment?
Assertiveness focuses on your actions, words and interaction with another person. Do others see you as confident, self-assured, or bordering on being aggressive. There is a fine line between assertiveness and aggression and often it is down to the other person’s perception of you as to which type of behaviour they think they have seen. It is very subjective and is a key skill that can be taught and is often a component of company management training programmes, as well as individual coaching.
Assertiveness is knowing your rights and responsibilities and standing up for them. This means understanding the potential consequences of your actions, and in my next blog, I will explore some of the rights and responsibilities we all have. Crucially, assertiveness is also about understanding that other people have rights and making sure you don’t violate those.