Monday, January 16, 2006

A New Approach

The new way is to turn it around, from subject to object and from boss to subordinate. The problem of motivating problem staff must be looked at from a complete new perspective. The manager needs to look at the employee (who labeled “problem employee”) with the word “problem” removed from his forehead and as a real person to be understood. This approach is based on 3 principles (or assumptions).

  1. Everyone has motivational energy – this principle or assumption appears fundamental. That is to say that the employee can be motivated in the first place but his/her drive and commitment was not displayed at work.

  2. The motivational energy is blocked in the workplace – This is a follow on from first principle above. If the employee has motivational energy it was either not displayed at work or has been blocked in the workplace. Impediments can be caused by stresses at home, relationship with spouse/partner or peers, or something that has accumulated incrementally over years, e.g. broken promises at work or being misunderstood/ignored by their bosses.

  3. Removing blockages require employee participation – this is easily understood. Provided principles 1 and 2 above are true then the employee is the only person who knows exactly the way to have the blockages removed. The author used judo to explain this, i.e. find the locus of energy and leverage it to achieve your goal. As in judo, if you find the way you could use least effort to do the job. Forcing your way as in the traditional approach will not work with problem employees.

There are few words of warning offered by the author, i.e. this method requires the use of empathy and it takes time and effort. You also don’t know what you are getting until you have successfully unwrapped a person and you may not be able to transform every unmotivated employee. The final outcome may disappoint you but at least you and your problem staff will know either that an avenue for improvement has opened up or agree to disagree. After all it was the managers’ judgment that certain employees worth the effort of being motivated. Now let us look at some actions in greater details.

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