Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Employee development and motivation.

Q. I'm very interested in employee development and motivation... in positively impacting the work environment to recover that old feeling of "happy to go to work" I had when I got my first job. Many of us spend more time with our colleagues than with our own families on weekdays (some on weekends too!) so having a nice atmosphere at work can really make a difference in our quality of life.

What has your company (or you personally) done to motivate staff and develop their skills? What creative ideas have you had/heard of that involve little or no budget?

A. Your question reflects a commonly held belief that one can person can motivate or develop another. This belief results in people trying to control each other and is an outgrowth of a "management" culture in which the priority value is control.

I had the feeling of being, "happy to go to work," in my first job, too. I now see that I was innocent of the dynamics of the organization and freely expressing my values in my actions. As I developed my career (notice that I did that) I acquired a more sophisticated appreciation for the organizational forces and became part of the system of control, not knowing that I was allowing myself to be motivated by the darker side of my character.

What is a "nice" working atmosphere? It might be an atmosphere conducive to getting the work done while supporting the very human need for free personal expression. The first part can easily be established by more control but the second, only by less. So what have I done that involves little or no budget? My responsibility as a leader is first to understand my own motivation and take care of my own development. When I have been seen to do that, sometimes others have become interested and I have been able to help them do the same.

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