Motivating Force (Book Excerpt)

 In Living Life to its Fullest, Mr. Shulman, a popular speaker, author and life coach, offers us short, insightful and readable vignettes, each designed to provoke conversation and thought. Below is an excerpt about lessons in life’s motivations.

Motivating Force: 

Excerpted from Living Life to its Fullest by Avi Shulman

Ask a group of employers, “How do you motivate your employees?” and before you can finish your question you’ll hear almost all respond, “More money!”

Of course, if a family doesn’t have money to pay for essentials — food, rent, clothing, etc. — paying employees more money will surely motivate them in the short run.

But our question goes beyond the essentials. How do you keep an employee happy, working to his or her full capacity, and remaining in your company? And when we find the answer to this question, can we apply the same findings to motivating students and family members?

Every year a noted management-consulting firm conducts a survey of 200 companies on what motivates their staff. Managers and supervisors are given a list of 10 possible things that most motivated their employees. Here is the list in no particular order:

Job security; good wages; promotion opportunities; appreciation; good working conditions; loyalty from management; feeling “in” on things; understanding attitude; tactful discipline; interesting work.

In almost every response the supervisors thought that what matters most to the employees are the following, in order of importance:

  • Good wages
  • Job security
  • Promotion opportunities
  • Good working conditions
  • Interesting work
  • Loyalty from management
  • Tactful discipline
  • Appreciation
  • Understanding attitude
  • Feeling “in” on things

In almost every case, here is how the employees ranked what was really important to them:

  • Appreciation
  • Feeling “in” on things
  • Understanding attitude
  • Job security
  • Good wages
  • Interesting work
  • Promotion opportunities
  • Loyalty from management
  • Good work conditions
  • Tactful discipline

There are two interesting lessons to be learned from this study.

1. The three top motivators from the employee’s perspective — appreciation, feeling “in” on things, and understanding attitude — do not cost anything in terms of money, just a few moments of time, respect, and understanding.

2. Most of us see things only from our own perspective. You would think that supervisors and managers who work so closely with employees would know what motivates employees… but the truth is, they don’t know.

The lesson here is to realize that just because we know someone well or work with them does not mean we know what motivates them. Considerable thought, investigation, and discussion are necessary to learn what really motivates someone.

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