The Art of Motivation

I have been conducting a workshop on motivation in the work place as part of an exercise to establish a performance based incentive scheme for a company trying to change from being a family run enterprise to one which can be floated on the stock exchange in a year or two.

Praise Loudly, Blame Softly

In human behaviour, motivation can be considered to be a force. It is brought to bear when performing actions. Where actions have no purpose motivation is undefined. Where there is purpose I take it to be without doubt that the purpose is better served when the required actions are carried out by people who are motivated rather than by people who are indifferent.

The motivated state can then be described as that biological, emotional or cognitive condition which generates a force – variously called incentive, enthusiasm, inspiration, drive, desire, impetus or commitment – which can be applied to a person’s actions. The difference between a motivated person and an unmotivated person lies in the force they bring to bear when performing the same action. It follows that motivation is that particular force within a person which infuses dynamism into his actions or his behaviour towards a particular purpose. The art of motivation then lies in the manner of generating such a force of engagement in people when acting towards a particular purpose.  It is the influencing of human desires and drives by addressing their needs and deficiencies such that they have a vested interest in achieving the purpose. ……

It is a universal and well established observation that when some dissatisfaction is acute, all other drives and actions are subordinated to the alleviation of the acute dissatisfaction. …

What constitutes satisfaction or dissatisfaction varies from one individual to the next. What levels of these are considered acute or tolerable or acceptable or unacceptable or mild satisfaction or ecstasy, also vary with the individual. To what extent and with what velocity a change of state will drive an individual towards reaching a different state of satisfaction or dissatisfaction also depends upon the individual. With this level of variation, and with this dependence upon the individual, motivating people is in the realm of art and is still a long way from being an exact science. The use of rewards and penalties to achieve the actions chosen to be elicited from specific individuals is the art of motivation

….. To be able to consciously engage in motivation, which is a necessary task for a manager, it is vital that some assessment be made of the current status of satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the subject. This in turn determines whether some other state of satisfaction or reduced dissatisfaction will be sufficiently separated from the current state for any motivation to be feasible. This applies irrespective of whether the subject is a subordinate, a superior or a complete stranger. Without such an assessment the drive actually generated by any motivator that is applied, will be nothing more than a guess. The objective is of course, to intentionally provide sufficient drive to the subject such that the desired action results and is carried out forcefully. In a few cases the manager will have sufficient information to be able to make a fairly accurate assessment. In most cases however, he will only have partial information. Nevertheless, the starting point must be an assessment of the current status. 

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One Response to “The Art of Motivation”

  1. frizztext Says:

    Praise Loudly, Blame Softly – a good rule knowing all the risks of human behaviour … of aggression and depression …

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