Workplace motivation: Kindle positive thoughts

Complimenting people on their success or accomplishments is a sure way of generating positive feelings. Positive strokes lead to enhanced team spirit which automatically affects performance, says Dr EJ Sarma

In their attempt to get the best out of people employed, a management spends a lot of money and HR professionals try all the tricks up their sleeve to get the motivation levels up. They try climate, culture, rewards, compensation, choice assignments, and all seem to work sometimes but not all the time. If one is in a leadership or a managerial role, chances are that we are preoccupied with ourselves and have little time to think of motivating others. All of us who are in HR talk and read about motivation. The question however is: Can we really create conditions for people to motivate themselves?

In this article we examine those possibilities.

* Kindling positive thoughts: Most of us know what it feels to be down and under. The most common cause of work depression is negative feeling and consequent depression when one is faced with complete inability to bring information together to find solutions to problems. Psychologists refer to this phenomenon as convergent thinking, which is an ability to branch out from the start to search variety of ways of solving problems. Lateral thinking is able to flourish only if the work climate is conducive.

Energy levels flow only when there is atmosphere to kindle positive feelings through positive thoughts. Our simple likes and dislikes turn upside down in times of depression. The reactive depression that gets created most of the time in work places can be removed if only there is some one to handle it by positive stroking. Or even through some soothing words. The kind of pep session I referred to earlier in this article. Positive stroke leads to positive feeling, which in turn repeats positive behaviour. Complimenting people on their success or accomplishments is one sure way to get the positive feeling out. The HR support systems in reward scheme must provide for such positive stroking when the people you lead attain goals or project milestones.

* Happiness and enjoyment motivates: Research findings indicate that the success or failure of our relationships is directly related to how much we enjoy work. People value happiness not really in material terms, which corroborate the old song “the best things in life are free”. When asked, many do mention source of happiness as health, family life, friendship and work.

In another research some time ago, the people of Denmark were found to be the highest scoring on happiness index. Ironically Denmark also had the highest suicide rate. The happiest persons are those who can experience and form healthy relationships even at work. That is why the boss is a critical factor to motivation. Apart from satisfaction of doing very well on the job, gaining promotions and salary raises; the work provides a structure and purpose for each day in our life. Normally employees do not prefer to do monotonous work and hence it is not possible to expect everyone to enjoy what they do. Recently a bank manager wanted me to help him out with the decision of whether or not to go for VRS (voluntary retirement scheme). He was more concerned as to what he would do after VRS, even with all the money. His main concern was about his chances to get another job. Managers must learn to celebrate even small wins. Build in enjoyable social activities for everyone, such as having coffee or lunch together.

Some days ago I suggested the CEO of my client company (who was known for his managing by paranoid style), to have lunch in the staff lunchroom. He did, but it was so strange for him, that no one would talk. There was no genuineness in the attempt to share moments of happiness or joy.

* Feeling important motivates: Who does not need attention? The oft-heard comment in corporate cabins is, “I was not consulted”. Actually people don’t feel let down so much if HR processes can provide for structure to make very one feel important. We can listen more often and give respect to views of others and consider their thoughts carefully and give due credit when somebody’s idea bears fruit. The more I make someone feel important I have done the motivational trick.

* Success motivates: There is no better tonic than success. Most of us would like to discover our inner potential to the fullest, make the most of everything that we are capable of being and doing and live life to the fullest. The urge to reach the ultimate limit is innate in us. Man’s quest for self-actualisation and recent successes in every walk of life is concrete evidence to the humanistic theory of motivation of Maslow or Rogers. If manager sets clear reasonable goals within the group, makes certain that stakeholders get help, understand what the goals mean, and agree to them, then there is reasonable success probability. That is what we can do to contribute to others motivation. I would advocate nothing less than termination to those managers who fail to do on-time performance appraisal and feedback. There are plenty of those wolfs in goatskin around and cry about work place motivation or lack of it by managements.

* Personal benefits motivate: Nature usually sees to it that we are fully conscious of ourselves as distinct individuals. This self-consciousness continues to grow. If motivation has to work we better address this need. Though most work situations are team working situations, we must identify and state how group members can personally gain from an activity. Recently, the director of my client company wanted to give Rs 40,000 as reward to the CFO, for getting a cost saving through his personal effort to the tune of some $20,000. I was asked to suggest how this would be announced. My view was that we must tell the CEO that he singularly deserved the credit. And it is completely up to him to decide on the money. As I guessed, he decided to share it equally with his team members, at the same time felt proud, and got excited that his personal contribution was noted and appreciated. We not only got him motivated, but also got the entire team to feel a sense of achievement.

* Clarity motivates: We use emotional behaviour to communicate our needs and intentions to others and prompt those to give way to our demands. Positive emotions attract other people. The complexities are enhanced when we do not plan our messages, oral and written, and take time to ensure to communicate clearly. Confusion due to poor communication can be demotivating. Therefore, there is no way one will feel charged if the organisation is incapable of communication or the managers cannot ensure clarity.

We liberate ourselves from most drives by fulfilling them. Even organisms like bacteria are able to recognise their biological relatives and help their chances to survive and reproduce. Then why worry or complain about motivation, let us do our bit to take people to their heights.


About Navin Rane

Flying Horsemen

Posted on July 5, 2008, in Expert Articles and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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