When we talk about motivating others, the justification is the result (either we want to avoid the pain or go towards pleasure) or what we want to get the person to do. How we achieve the effect are our alternatives. In this article, we discuss these alternatives.
During my classes at one of the top b-schools of India, I often pose this question to my students – Why do people resort to violence? For that matter, why do people do anything?
De Becker talks about four things.
- Justification: we make a judgment that we have been wronged; hence we need to retaliate. If we think about it, we have justified each of our actions (or inaction). Sometimes we say it was necessary or unavoidable. Occasionally, we assume an impact that may or may not happen.
- Alternatives: typically, violence seems to be the only alternative. This comes out of a lack of emotional control, where we are so much into the emotion that we cannot perceive any other option.
- Consequences: whether we can live with the results of the act. If we are afraid of further retaliation, we may not act.
- Ability: do we have the confidence to use our body or a substitute (knife, gun, or another person) to achieve the results.
When we talk about motivating others, the justification is the result (either we want to avoid the pain or go towards pleasure) or what we want to get the person to do.
How we achieve the result are our alternatives. As a manager, we need to understand the other person’s justification and then come up with other options. We may then choose the right choice. However, in general, we want the first or the emotionally satisfying one.
Typically people stop at this level of analysis and start to act. But a good manager would think of the following also:
Will the action guarantee the consequence? What about other unintended consequences? This requires an individual experience.
Are we capable of doing this action? Intention and the selection of the ideal alternative do not guarantee execution if we do not have the skills and the experience.
Most motivational tactics fail because without execution capability; they are only wishful thinking.
Suppose we wish to make people in the teamwork.
- The justification is the result of teamwork. Whether team members buy into the outcome will determine if they will contribute. The result may not be necessary if it is not essential to a person. Finding what a person wants and linking the result of the team effort to this ‘want’ requires specific creativity.
- What can we tell a person so that he is convinced that he should do the work allotted to him? Maybe it is not the right work, because he perceives it demeaning. Perhaps he thinks that you have given someone else the work that he wants to do, and that you are playing favorites.
- Does the person believe that the work he is supposed to do will have the right consequences? If you promise him that it will, but he does not have confidence in you, he will not do it, even if he has the capability.
- And lastly, are you sure he can do this work?
Suppose we wish to change our job.
- We justify the change of job – the boss is not right, the company is not good, the work has changed, etc.
- We look for alternative employment – and here we indulge in a lot of wishful thinking and peer comparison.
- We check off the shortlist of jobs that will have the right consequences in terms of peer approval, money, and prestige.
- We do not typically look at our capability in doing that job because we are focused on the job profile, not our ability.