Humane Motivation Techniques

Motivation techniques should help people to achieve excellence. Those techniques should also be humane. Fear, manipulation, or unreal promises can induce people to put bursts of energy into their work. While such negative techniques are powerfully effective, they damage people and organizations. Successful companies don't face this problem. Negative approaches are unnecessary in naturally motivating environments. But, great success is limited to a few people and organizations. The world is more ordinary. Ideally, motivating techniques should help people in common place situations to achieve excellence, without hurting their own self respect and well being. Tradition, training and their sense of duty generally induce ordinary people to try and contribute their best. Motivating techniques should help them to improve on their innate aspirations and achieve flow.

Flow is a state of mind, where people become totally immersed in their tasks and lose all sense of time. It is a state, where people work for the pure enjoyment of completing the task and not for any external reward. Research has shown that people achieve flow, when they feel that they are in control of tasks, which are goal directed, provide feedback and give them a sense of meaning. Studies indicate that flow does not require engagement in creative, or artistic tasks. Flow has been shown to be experienced even in tasks such as analyzing data, or filling out income tax returns. Motivation techniques which achieve flow benefit the employee and the organization.

  • Abraham Maslow suggested that a person's priorities change as his basic needs are satisfied.
  • It is not successful people, but ordinary workers, who need to be motivated.
  • Pressure tactics produce only short term results. Excellence is a result of flow, not slave driving.
  • Basic motivation to work is built into the human psyche. Motivation techniques should contribute flow to their work.
  • Discover the things which excite you.
  • The employers objective should be to discover and improve skills.
  • Since the ideal job is seldom available, learn on your present job.
  • The employers should teach the employee the secrets of creating happy customers.
  • Managers should discover mentors in their teams, who help the new employees.
  • Allowing flexibility in producing results creates an enthusiastic employee.
  • Establish good habits in the work place.
  • Managers should lead by example.

Motivation Techniques – Maslow's Hierarchy Irrelevant
Flow is only marginally dependent on the satisfaction of basic human needs. Abraham Maslow suggested that a person's priorities change as his basic needs are satisfied. He arranged these needs in a hierarchy. When basic physiological needs of food, shelter and clothing are satisfied, people seek a sense of community with fellow workers. At the next level, they seek respect from their work group. Higher up, they seek satisfying results from sufficiently challenging tasks. At the highest level, a person seeks a sense of fulfillment in his work. While negative factors can affect performance, a person can achieve flow, even if many of these factors are absent. A person can do an excellent job, even if he is not respected by his colleagues, or feels no special sense of fulfillment in it.

Motivation Techniques – Success Is Not Universal
Successful people hardly need motivation techniques. Film stars, great statesmen and prominent business leaders are usually excellent at their jobs. Their financial needs are abundantly met. They have respect from society and usually have a sense of fulfillment. But, ordinary people face many vicissitudes. Their salaries may barely meet their food, shelter and clothing needs. They live with the fear of losing their jobs. Cyclic labor turnover prevents them from enjoying steadfast work companionship. At the same time, the overhanging possibility of dismissal injures their sense of self respect. Lack of adequate job knowledge makes them feel incompetent. Finally, they may even lack a sense of fulfillment, since their lowly jobs contribute but little to society. Successful motivation techniques should overcome these shortcomings.

Motivation Techniques – Negative Approaches
Many corporations motivate through fear. They take advantage of the primitive herd psychology of established pecking orders. People naturally fear the upper levels of their hierarchy. Fear keeps them on their toes. A demand from the “executive floor” can usually intimidate them into carrying out even menial tasks. Even at the higher levels, you can receive a report in the morning, with a simple threat of expropriating an executive's limousine. Your minion merely faces the peril of a heart attack. Unreasonably high targets result in needless stress, which is harmful in the long run. Continuous late hours ruin the health and competence of staff over time. Incentive schemes, which tax the health of workers, produce only short term results. Excellence is a result of flow, not slave driving.

Motivation Techniques – People Are Committed To Work
Basic motivation to work is built into the human psyche. Imitating the behavior of their parents, most people make traditional, or accidental career choices. A person becomes an engineer, because she was admitted to an engineering course. After being pitched into their careers, learned subconscious habits keep them going. Massive neural drives impel them to achieve objectives through thousands of activities. Subconscious mechanisms set their long term goals as they join the rat race without significant conscious awareness of their ultimate goals. They don't need to make conscious decisions to go to work each morning. They dress, have breakfast, commute to work and write accounts, while making few conscious decisions. Successful motivation techniques should add flow to their dull habits.

Motivation Techniques – Self Awareness
Successful people know their own strengths and weaknesses. Do you have an area of excellence? Are there a few things you can do better than others? The legendary management guide Peter Drucker defined excellence as the ability to easily do something, which others find difficult. Successful people discover and follow their areas of strength, without wasting time in jobs where they are weak. If you lack enthusiasm in your current job, look around for a job, which can be more satisfying. Different objectives thrill different people. The signals, which trigger pleasure for a person are said to be set before the age of nine. History could interest a child, who was once thrilled by the vision of an emperor's throne in a museum. Such exciting early visions can trigger abiding interests in subjects like history, art, or engineering. Discover the things which excite you. Self awarenesscan prevent you from being tied to tradition and dull habit.

Motivation Techniques – Fit The Employee To The Right Job
While an employee should seek out the right career, an employer should seek to develop people to fit into jobs. Management should move people around so that they can comprehend the whole process and fit them into jobs, where they are most competent. This requires an assessment of the talents of an employee and finding the tasks, which he can do well. The annual performance review is a feared process, where the opinion of the management is thrust on the employee. It kills the enthusiasm of the the employee, who does not comprehend his weaknesses and becomes defensive. But if the objective is to discover and improve skills, where an employee is better able to meet the goals set by management, he will feel more motivated.

Motivation Techniques – Learn On The Job
Very few people are blessed with the good fortune to work enthusiastically in a field they love. Millions of people are forced to work on dull routines, where the work bores them to tears. If you do not enjoy your work, but have no other option, are you going to let your dissatisfaction destroy your health and happiness? Instead of being miserable, look around and see how you can improve your performance. How does your work help your customer and the business? Study the history and practices in the field. Read of new developments. You will find that as you pay more attention to your job, it will become easier and more interesting. While you can keep looking for a better opening, you will find that the skills you learned will always help you later in life.

Motivation Techniques – Teach The Employee
In an uncertain marketplace, employees will appreciate an opportunity to learn new skills and experience personal growth. Every industry has its own secrets of how to achieve results, which satisfy and thrill customers. It was reported that the Home Depot teaches their sales staff ways to save money for their customers. Build up a knowledge base of tips and techniques for improved management of each job. Each happy customer improves the confidence of the employee. Each unhappy customer provides lessons in mistakes, which can happen. Proper training can teach an employee how to accept criticism calmly and graciously. The narration of stories of how particular problems were handled should be used as a basic teaching tool. In good times and bad, each successful lesson reinforces the motivation of the employee.

Motivation Techniques – Mentors
Not every supervisor or manager has the ability to deal sensitively with the problems of her team. Most disaffected workplaces suffer from a feeling of helplessness by the employees, with their inability to implement solutions to their problems. But, within every group of people, there will be one or two people, who are trusted and have an awareness of individual problems and trials. The manager should discover such people in their teams and assist them to help needy team members. When employees feel that they have a link, however tenuous, to management, they will have a greater feeling of security and sense of empowerment. Appointing mentors to look after newcomers converts older workers into teachers, with greater interest in their own work.

Motivation Techniques – Control Over Work
Detailed work instructions enable employees to come quickly up to par. But define the final expected results, while allowing freedom for the worker to organize his own work space and to try variations of the routine. Flow results from a sense of control over one's own work. Allowing alternate routines can throw up new practices, which produce better results. The success of Toyota is substantially based on the massive contributions of ideas for processes by the workers.

Motivation Techniques – Positive Feedback
A happy response from a customer is the best feedback for successful training on the job. A new worker needs to know when she is on the right track. Reassurance that the job has been done right immediately adds to the learning process. Many employers avoid compliments, since such assurances can lead to increased demands from workers. But, such assurances improve performance and produce better results. The benefits of a positive feedback far outweigh the disadvantages. A confident worker is likely to be less troublesome. When work flows smoothly, the supervisor can focus on developing better processes.

Motivation Techniques – Set Good Habits In Place
Rechecking your work is a good habit. The supervisor should make rechecking of work done into a habit in the workplace. As the worker discovers an occasional fault, she is more likely to be careful the next time. While some people are untidy by nature, an ongoing insistence on tidiness can ultimately lead to fewer problems. At the same time, excessive insistence on such aspects may reduce the flow of some workers.

Motivation Techniques – Leadership By Example
From early childhood, people have a tendency to imitate their seniors. When a leader expects a certain type of behavior, he should set the example. His enthusiasm and expectation of quality will be reflected down the line. If he is interested in learning, he will be leading a learning organization. Courtesy and consideration at the highest level will be passed down to every level. A humane organization has the best chances for work flow, where workers enjoy their jobs.


This page was last updated on 01-Jan-2014



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For my peace of mind, I earmarked 20 minutes for meditation on the terrace. With my eyes closed, I sense my hands on the chair and feel the numbness in my feet.

I feel my breath flowing through my nose, my throat, my chest and my stomach. I can hear the chirping of birds, the phut phut of auto rickshaws, the occasional roar of a truck and the insistent hooting of horns.

When I open my eyes, I see a pale moon over two hundred thousand miles away. I see the nuclear fires, blazing for millions of years in the pale globe of the setting sun. A star millions of miles away in space.

I can see green shoots coming up on a tree, watch the dives and swoops of birds, the great circles of the hawks and flocks of birds flying home for the night.

Diffused light from the sun reflects off a parrot on the tree and enters my eye through a pinhole opening. I sense the bustling mood of the bird, even though it is smaller than a drop of water in my eyes.

All these things are seen and felt by me in a few brief minutes. In the distance, is the head of a man seeming to be no bigger than a pea. Yet, that head too sees and feels such things. Ten million people in this great city see and feel in ten million ways.

My mind wanders to a misty view of postwar London; an exciting glimpse of Disneyland. An awed view of Tiananmen Square. The looming Himalayan ranges. My mind takes me to distant galaxies.

It carries me into the heart of millions of invisible neurons, where electrical charges flash thousands of times a second powering my contemplation. I see the campaigns of Julius Caesar and Alexander. I feel the longings of Jehangir.

Already my mind has taken me to palaces, battlefields and even the stars. And yet, the 20 minutes hang heavily on me. If I lost everything, but can just see and feel, in just a few brief minutes, my mind can travel the world, or imagine the cosmos.

Life has already blessed me with over twenty million waking minutes. I have an infinity of time on my hands. Have I a right to expect more from life?

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