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Journal of nicholas (3034)

Sunday April 16, 2006
01:06 PM

Motivating people

[ #29339 ]

Harvard Business School has a newsletter with an interesting article Why Your Employees Are Losing Motivation. This particularly stood out:

To maintain the enthusiasm employees bring to their jobs initially, management must understand the three sets of goals that the great majority of workers seek from their work - and then satisfy those goals:

  • Equity: To be respected and to be treated fairly in areas such as pay, benefits, and job security.
  • Achievement: To be proud of one's job, accomplishments, and employer.
  • Camaraderie: To have good, productive relationships with fellow employees.

To maintain an enthusiastic workforce, management must meet all three goals. Indeed, employees who work for companies where just one of these factors is missing are three times less enthusiastic than workers at companies where all elements are present.

The entire article is informative and worth a read. It seems to gel nicely with the three things I realise that I'm looking for in a job:

  • Something to work on that I care about - something that I would use myself even if I didn't work on it
  • Interesting people to work with, whom I will keep in contact with even if they leave
  • A pleasant environment to work in, in terms of the office itself, the office location, and what it's like to live near the office

Frustratingly, despite having a consistent idea of what I want, I've not done very well in finding it. Please don't depress me by telling me that it doesn't exist.

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  • That's the crap that HBS teaches? No wonder employees are unmotivated. All they can think about for employee motivation is the work environment. They beg the question that people want to work at all.

    Some people might go to work because there are interesting people or a nice work environment, but even with the best people and best environment, most people wouldn't go to work if you didn't pay them. Most people don't have jobs because they want to work. They have them because:
    • People want to pay their bills
    • Pe
    • I don't think they even implied that people would still work if they didn't get paid. The next paragraph after the extract I quoted was:

      One goal cannot be substituted for another. Improved recognition cannot replace better pay, money cannot substitute for taking pride in a job well done, and pride alone will not pay the mortgage.

      and there's another comment later on re-inforcing that something they're describing isn't a substitute for paying people properly.

    • 100% correct -- "H" stands for Harvard, but the rest doesn't stand for "Business School".

      I'm convinced that pay is the elephant that many managers want to ignore, so they invent other reasons to justify their title. Our dev team just lost a great team leader mainly due to pay. He was one of the few managment types I've ever seen actually know how to lead (he's a former Army captain). He "only" had a BSCS, and so according to the "rules", which appear on paper as well defined and equitable, they couldn't

      • I'm convinced that pay is the elephant that many managers want to ignore, so they invent other reasons to justify their title. Our dev team just lost a great team leader mainly due to pay.

        When I've done salary-ish full time work sometimes I've wanted more pay, but really it has always been a (bad) proxy for something else being wrong that it was harder to get the manager to fix.

        "More money" would help for a few months, but it can only suppress the real problem for so long.

          - ask

        -- ask bjoern hansen [], !try; do();

        • "More money" would help for a few months, but it can only suppress the real problem for so long.

          I agree, if money is being used as a band-aid it is only effective for a limited time. If money is used to award merit, it tends to have some results.

          One reason why I said he was "great" was because he didn't waffle under recently increasing pressure from above - a quality few have. One might say he just couldn't handle management's normal eccentricities and should step down. After hearing about the inane cr

      • You contradict yourself. If money was that important, why did morale sink to the bottom when the guy left? Noone’s salary changed.

        • I never said salary was all important. I said it was his reason for leaving. In his case I had to agree. Morale always goes down when your management rigidly follows rules, and ignores common sense.
    • So you’d leave your position at Stonehenge to work as a roofer if you could make more money that way?

      • It's not really a shallow view. It's just a recognition that people work for other reasons than work.

        You can't use me as an example, though, because I'm stupid. I keep doing what I do because I'm not primarily motivated by money. That it's not true for me doesn't mean it isn't true for other people.

        You have to remember, though, that even a very well paying job that you don't like is not going to motivate you. If I could make ten times as much money roofing as doing Perl, I still wouldn't do it because I don
  • Over (down?) here! Except you can't get out for ten months...
    • Also I seem to remember from one of your photos (although I can't find it now) that although there might be penguins outside your window, and penguins on the walls of your office, there aren't any penguins inside your computer. Windows desktops are something I don't like working on, and have successfully avoided for almost 6 years now. I think I'd go mad if I were forced to use Windows for 10 months with no chance of escape.