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Making motivation happen

Written By : SUN FIJI NEWSROOM. “Tuning people on” Everything which I’ve written so far, on motivation, is based on practical experience. It does work, and work well, provided you
01 Aug 2009 12:00

Written By : SUN FIJI NEWSROOM. “Tuning people on”
Everything which I’ve written so far, on motivation, is based on practical experience. It does work, and work well, provided you do things in the right order and in the right way. This article sets out a few underlying principles to help you manage the process of ‘tuning people on.’

1. Leadership
Projects need champions – and motivation at work is the most important thing about competitiveness, cost-effectiveness – or simply staying alive – is the commitment and application of people at work. But it all depends on leadership. Here, therefore, are a few guidelines:
l Practise what you preach -whatever you are recommending, ensure that you already do it! Someone will undoubtedly ask you.
l Talk to the person at the top – ensure that your words of wisdom or advice are always directed at the person who can press the ‘go’ button.
l Find positive reasons for promoting change – in other words, always stress the potential benefits, rather than the penalties.
l Show/demonstrate/explain/enthuse -instead of writing memos, pamphlets, papers or dissertations, go and talk to people. Get the manager concerned together with the team and talk to them about your ideas.

2. Surveys
Changing behaviour, and hence, attitudes, is difficult unless you can identify a start point. Some of your colleagues, who will much prefer to preserve current values and resist change will want to know why you wish to change their world. So defining what the problem is and why it exists, is of crucial importance, and a simple objective survey often helps. Here are some basic principles that might help:
l Stay away from long quantitative audits that require people to fill in long questionnaire. Such exercises need specialist design and analysis.
l Concentrate on qualitative exercises instead. Seek facts, opinions, quotes from employees. Compare or contrast what happens – with what should happen.
l Look for positive examples of behaviour on which to report. You will discover much more about staff turnover by asking people why they stayed with the organization than by ploughing remorselessly through piles of exit interview.
l Don’t risk ‘paralysis by analyses! In other words, don’t analyse the problems to death. Far better to gather chapter and verse, working to pre-defined terms of reference. You can then help your colleagues to reach conclusions and draw up action plans, based on established good practice either in your organization or elsewhere.
l Report quickly, briefly and objectively. Don’t make sweeping statements and discuss your conclusions early with the key players.
l Don’t recommend too much change. People can only cope with so much at one time. You may frighten your team and colleagues or customers by presenting them with a chapter of indictments which simply promoted the response: “We can’t be that bad.”

3. Making use of good practice.
I’ve lost count of the number of people who, over the years, have asked questions like: ‘Can you train managers in leadership skills?’, ‘Can you set objectives for this or that kind of job?’, ‘Do performance review systems actually work?’, ‘Do briefing systems or team meetings pay off?’
The answer is: of course these things work, and of course they pay off. However, ‘home=grown’ versions of them work better than textbook methods. The ‘trick’ is to take a concept, read the theory – and then throw away the textbook. Visit a few organizations which already implement whatever it is you’re considering. Learn from their success or failures, and than adapt the technique or practice to your own organization.

4. No panaceas
There is no such in motivation as the Holy Grail. Nor should you believe in magic. When management consultants come along and tell you they have discovered the universal cure-all, treat them like the confidence tricksters they are.

5. Human Resource Strategy
There should be one – a paper that sets out the human ‘values’ of the organization. Such strategy should be relevant to corporate objectives and set out what the organization believes in. if, for example, it is committed to values such as:
l Delegating accountability to the lowest level
l Team work
l Harmonized conditions of employment
l Performance review for all
l Two-way-face-to-face communication
l A positive approach towards trade union activity
– or whatever-then there should be a strategy document which provides for these things to happen in a relevant way.

6. Policies and Procedures
Nothing ever happens unless there’s a simple policy or procedure for making it happen. It should be set out:
l What should take place
l Who should manage it
l How it should happen
l How will it be monitored. This may seem very obvious, but have you checked recently to make sure the necessary procedures actually exist? And more important still, have they been communicated?

7. Tackle The Roadblocks
If you are confronted by a manager who doesn’t implement what is agreed and required, take it seriously. Talk to him or her, try to ascertain whether you’re dealing with an issue of conduct (i.e. they won’t play the ball) or capability (i.e. they can’t) – then decide whether it is a question of training, counseling, or talking to their boss. Don’t fudge the issue and hope it will go away.

8. Be an Idealist
Changing part of the world isn’t a bad thing to want to do. Just try not to be boring about it. And remember that enthusiasm counts and is infectious. (It has been earning many a living)

9. Keep it Simple
Managers are busy people, complex people, technical or financial people – and invariably ordinary people. They do not need nor respond to complex psychological models or theories. If you are into Transactional Analysis, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Continuums of Behaviour, Managerial Grids, Circles, Squares or other exercises in management geometry – translate them into usable English.

10. Be Positive
Nothing – absolutely – is bad as a cynical personnel manager who can’t resist telling people why nothing works, and why nothing else is worth trying. If you don’t think that tuning people on is part of the job or a valuable and important initiative, what else do you think matters more? Should you be in this role? Would you perhaps be better suited to a more solitary occupation?
Very few people will prevent you from implementing at least some of the ideas mentioned, provided you go bout it in the right way. If you ask permission, you may get a ‘wait and see’ response, mainly because whoever it is you talked to simply doesn’t know as much about the proposed initiative as you. Always frame your ideas as proposals:
l Start with the benefits
l Follow up with the method
l Explain the investment required.
l Go back to the benefits.
It isn’t selling – it’s just commonsense.

By Sunila karan
Counsellor/Personal Development Trainer For stress management/counseling & communication training. Contact Ph: 9996807

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