20151104_145251Ok, just one more topic to sort of rant about and then we’ll move on to the so what of all this.

M O T I V A T I O N !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Most managers job descriptions I have seen will have some kind of a statement or a specific objective focused on motivating those that report to them.

Well no surprise here but I pretty much hate that.  I am quite convinced if they were all just deleted motivation would go up as well as performance levels.

Why? Two primary reasons; one we can look at by defining motivation in a different way than what the mainstream definition is.   The other through the lens of the interaction model

First, what is motivation?  I owe a large amount of gratitude to Dr. Ed Freedberg in shaping my thinking in this area.

If you ask people this question you will typically get a response that has some sort of passion attached to it.  Things like ‘Motivation is doing something I really like’ or ‘I am motivated by accomplishing something important to me.’  What this illustrates is that the mainstream definition of motivation has a definite ‘feeling like it’ component. We are motivated when we ‘feel like’ doing something.

If you are a manager and are supposed to motivate those that work for you then you have to make those people ‘feel like’ doing the things associated with their job.

So how many of us ‘feel like’ attending that budget meeting, having that performance management meeting, responding to that jerk of a customer, firing someone, staying late, dealing with that co-worker you really just don’t like?

There are simply just a lot of things in our day-to-day work that we don’t ‘feel like’ doing! Yet we do them anyway. Dr. Freedberg first added a word to the beginning of motivation; success motivation. He then described this as ‘doing what needs to be done, whether we feel like it or not.’ Note that this does not exclude the feeling like it component, but that component is not all there is, in fact it’s not even a big part of motivation. Feeling like it is kind of like a gift, a neat part of motivation we don’t need but it’s nice when it’s there.

Perhaps even more significant, when we look at motivation in this way, there is a shift to personal choice rather than the expectation that someone else can create our motivation.

This brings us to the interaction model.

Interaction Model

In the interaction model motivation is initiated as an intention that leads to interaction; the top arrow of the right loop. Motivation begins as an intention for the future and feeds back into choices we make about our present interactions that we hope will realize this intention.

So think for a minute what it means to have someone else be responsible for, heck even owning your intentions! This is what happens when we place the responsibility for motivation in the job descriptions and objectives of our managers, our leaders. At best, when this happens we are puppets and at worst we are victims. And the managers and leaders in this mess at best will fail in their efforts and at worst will be villianized.

Neither is very conducive to building a LEFT loop, a pattern of behavior that contributes to much of value in an organization, let alone motivation and good performance.

Yet, mainstream OD and countless books, articles, videos and presentations are created, and consumed about motivating people and why it is so important for managers and leaders to do this.


That’s our next step along the OUCH! journey.



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