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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.
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.
In the world of business and marketing, understanding and highlighting your Unique Selling Point (USP) is crucial in getting you ahead of the pack. I’ve been looking at this aspect for my own business branding and new website (soon to be unveiled), and began to think about how individuals advertise their uniqueness when developing personal relationships with others, such as friendships and dating? How do we discover we have things in common with potential new friends? How do we sift through other people’s characteristics to match our own needs when dating, or do we just look at the photo? How much do we use our USP to draw the people we want towards us?
In today’s world where communication has to be fast and instant, email, text, twitter etc have largely taken over from face-to-face communication, and often by the time we actually meet someone, we have already formed an opinion of them, including whether we like them or not. On the surface, this is ridiculous that we can judge someone through a badly worded or blunt email or blurb on a website. This happens though, due to our emotional response to what they are saying or their photo. What is your gut feeling? Do you take a chance on meeting someone or developing a friendship or relationship if the ten or twenty seconds you have spent reading their communication has put you off? Generally the answer is no. We are living a larger and faster version of Britain’s Got Talent, in which we can parade a selection of potential friendships or partners on our iPad screens daily and can ditch twenty or thirty applicants in a couple of minutes, job done!
If this is resonating with you, what happens if you are on the other side of the iPad screen? What are you offering to stop someone else passing you over? A number of websites offer advice on how to set up your profile and outline your interests in such a way as to match you with others who could or should value the same things as you. The key thing is what makes you different to the others out there who are competing in the same market? What is your USP and how do you get it across to others?
I was reading an article yesterday in the YOU magazine by Julia Restoin Rotfield, where she gives advice “to women who don’t want to suddenly become “just mums”, and I was wondering what happened to the women who do want to only be parents and whether they saw the “just” as a negative?
From chatting to my friends and from my own experience I felt under pressure to stay in the work loop and fit my child into my hectic schedule and as I was a self-employed professional development coach and trainer, was anxious that I could be out of the game for too long. However, I didn’t really know how long was too long!
I envied my friends who had become “just mums”, through what seemed like long periods of maternity leave or those who seemed able to afford to give up work and also those who were completely fulfilled from simply having this tiny baby in their lives. I felt anxious and confused about how to split my roles of mother, wife and self employed business consultant, whilst begrudging not having ‘me’ time as well. As an older mother, I also felt that I had to prove it all could be done, with both panache and style and with as little dribble as possible. Looking back it was a hell of a first year.
Friends who were full time mothers described it as a lifetime choice or career change, and I loved these exprssions. There is no “just” about being a parent, it is THE full time job, with unsocial hours, conflicts and unexpected events happening, as well as all the joy of seeing each new stage of development, without having one eye on emails. Sometimes I wish I had made that choice and dammed the consequences!