Have You Kicked an Employee Lately?

Trigger Question #15

“No, you don’t deserve a treat BEFORE you start your project!”

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What fun! So many articles to read about how hard it is to motivate the latest generation to join the workforce. And then there’s the non-stop griping about how difficult they are to work with.

What nonsense!

If you have joined in the cacophony of complaints, please stop. You, being from an older generation, have forgotten what you were like when you were that “latest generation.” And you have forgotten that being older means you should also be wiser.

What do the wise know? That there is nothing new under the sun. Specifically, that once upon a time, we were the ones our elders complained about. (No, you may not view your past behavior through rose-tinted glasses.)

What do the wise do? They assume that someone has already invented this wheel and then they search history for tips on making it turn a little smoother.

Yes, yes, I know Einstein believed you cannot solve a problem with the same thinking that created the problem. But you did not create the generation gap. It just is. Nor did you create human nature with all its quirks and quibbles. Human nature is what it is and what it has always been.

But, thankfully, there is a solution, albeit one with yesterday’s thinking.

The Solution:

Every generation of managers must learn afresh what Frederick Herzberg explained so clearly way back in the 1960s: You cannot motivate someone else. Motivation is an internal desire. The best you can do is to convince others that an action is desirable. The rest is up to them.

Herzberg used the example of how to “motivate” your dog to move. You kick him. Alright, alright! Don’t kick him. Just nudge him with your foot. But here’s the lesson for all managers. If you want your dog to move again, you must k… I mean, nudge him again. And again.

Forget about your dog. What about nudging your employees? The same applies. Herzberg calls it “Motivating with KITA.” (Kick in the…)

And why do certain managers (not you, I’m sure) have to kick their employees again and again? Because these managers, attempting to motivate and empower employees, choose “job enlargement” instead of “job enrichment.” (Those terms mean exactly what they say. Create more of the same work or create more rewarding work.)

If you think you have motivated someone, you are fooling yourself. And if they are not motivated, chances are that you, their manager, designed a crappy job. Because the solution to motivation is to create the conditions that encourage people to motivate themselves.

So, before you complain again about the latest generation of workers, please find and read Herzberg’s original article One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees? Then implement his recommendations.

If you do, you’ll make ALL your employees happier, irrespective of generation.

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.

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