In a recent Conference Board Review article, Geoff Loftus noted:
“In companies that don’t care about motivation, workers right on up through middle management routinely cut corners on the quality of jobs, provide poorer customer service, spend more time on personal phone calls and at longer lunches, and worst of all, escape from the dreariness of their jobs for hours at a time on the Internet. … To coin a phrase: An ounce of motivation is worth a pound of monitoring.”
I’d say those workers are fairly well motivated – motivated to just get through the day and go home, that is. We’ve all worked with colleagues who seem to be motivated in the same way. Others are motivated by far worse than Internet surfing – pure greed. Think the latest scandals in the financial world.
The job of the manager and leader is to help employees be motivated for the right reasons. You cannot motivate employees. You can provide reasons for them to motivate themselves. You can define what it is that is most helpful to the team and company and then frequently and appropriately recognize and reward behaviors and actions that meet those definitions. You can encourage, you can appreciate, you can thank.
How would you rather spend your time? Helping employees find reasons to be positively motivated through frequent recognition of excellent work, or constantly monitoring employees to reduce slacker behavior?