Posts Tagged ‘employee motivation’

One of the most bizarre techniques that is sometimes adopted by weak managers of culturally weak organizations is the use of threatening language in the communication channels across the organization levels!

The repeated use of expressions like (or else … those who are not with us are against us … I will remember that in the annual appraisal … if you do not want to stay on the ship) in meetings, emails, circulations, or even in the company written policy, cause nothing on the long run but the loss of trust, disappearance of loyalty, and performance tardiness.

What provoked this post is a memo by one of the international brands working in Saudi Arabia. It is hanged beside one of its warehouses in front of everyone to see. It is written in Arabic; but here is its translation:

Attention!!!!!!!!!!!! For all staff, please do not set anywhere outside the store unless it is a permitted area. If these instructions are not followed, the store management will have to take any necessary action.

Regardless of the main topic of the memo, which is the staff seating arrangements, the memo was going somehow OK till the threatening language begun. As someone who knows nothing about the internal processes or culture of this company, reading these few lines I can tell that it is based on fear and intimidation. I can picture how demotivated their staff are and how the internal communication channels are filled with tension.

I am not saying that companies policies should not contain rules against misbehavior and so forth, but I am saying use them wisely, trust your staff, and do not threaten them. If you cannot build your company, department, or team culture based on trust, rest assured that you are going … nowhere!


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If you are ‘that-kind-of-manager,’ then you will must enjoy the following tips on how to burn your staff. And you do not have to worry about what other people would say or think about that, they just do not understand your style and how you think you are driving your staff to be big performers. And hey, you are ‘The-Manager,’ people have no right to question your ways of conducting business … and from there we start:

  • Keep reminding your staff, and everyone around, that you are The Manager. If they are working as your subordinates, then they should better understand it very well because there are consequences (read the next tips). You can remind them of your superiority in various ways: in meetings (e.g. start the meeting with something like ‘as the manager, I have decided’), in phone calls (e.g. you can say something like ‘tell them to do it because the manager said so’), and in emails of course (e.g. send emails saying stuff like ‘I have noticed, as The Manager, that …’).
  • Try to integrate some military practices into your style. Your requests should be treated as orders; do-first-ask-later kind of why (on the long run, they should be trained not to ask at all!).
  • Do not share your strategy, your plans, or the company strategy with them. They do not have the mental capacity to deal with it.
  • Take away these words from your dictionary and pretend that you do not understand them: overloading, logical arguments, and work/life balance!!
  • Do not allow them to discuss or circulate modern management articles; this is a place of work, not a university. And they have to understand that your abilities and experience exceed all that academic mumbo-jumbo.
  • Do not care much about processes nor scope of work. Let there be processes, but they should know that you have the power to overrule them whenever you like.
  • From time to time, ask them to do illogical or irregular stuff. Lists of things nobody cares about, check ups that do not make sense and alike. By doing so you are training them on obedience. You do not have to explain yourself, remember the tip about military practices.
  • Always, and I mean, all the time, give them a very tight time limits to deliver your requirements. If a certain study normally takes 3 days to accomplish, come at the last minuet and ask them to finish it before the end of the day.
  • Keep the sense of urgency and every-thing-is-a-priority way of work. They should know that you do not care about them because there are always bigger picture that they do not, and cannot, see!

So … do you have any more tips to share with us?

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[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=money&iid=269646″ src=”http://view2.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/269646/people-holding-money/people-holding-money.jpg?size=500&imageId=269646″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /]A very interesting idea about our relationship with money had been published in HBR March 2010 issue.

To get the feel of the study, imagine yourself in the following situation; imagine yourself counting money while one of your friends is counting papers. Now, if you both were asked to dip your hands in hot water, the study says that you, the one who have been playing with money, will report less pain.

Not only that, it will work in reverse as well. Now imagine yourself writing down your last month expenses while your friend is recording, say, the weather temperatures for the same month. In this case, the study says that you will report more pain because your were around the idea of spending money.

So in few words, the study conducted by Dr. Kathleen D. Vohs is stating that money gives us inner strengthen and can reduce our physical and emotional pain.

It is a really interesting idea. It is not that surprising that we all feel some way or another about money. And I am sure social and psychological scientists have a lot to debate about these findings.

The interesting part of the study comes in its recommendations. It is about using cash to compensate customers or reward employees. The examples used in the study go like this; if an airline would like to apologize to its customers for that 8 hours delay, it is better to give them cash. And when rewarding those customer service agents, do not given them bounces deposited to their accounts, give them cash.

I have to admit that although cash means a lot of things to us, thinking of it as a source of motivation or stress releasing incentive does not feel totally right. Management literature is filled with studies that actually refer to the contrary, to the fact that money could sometimes leads to dissatisfaction rather than satisfaction (check out Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory.)

More studies are still needed to determine when such claims can be found true and under which conditions. Because I am sure there are situations when money can mean nothing!

What do you think?

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So you are leading a team at the moment, or even part of one; Do you know when you should be really worried about your team performance?

It is when there is no conflict!

Conflict is a part of any healthy team work environment. It is not only natural to have different views and rising disputes whenever group of people are interacting with each other, some management experts go further to emphasis that conflicts must be there. Without conflicts over ideas, concepts, process, etc … group thinking prevails, adhering to the status quo cripples creativity, and lack of job excitement controls the work environment.

That does not mean conflicts should get out of hands, and team meetings turn to wars and power struggles. There are so many techniques that could be used to contain this conflict and employ it to work for the sake of the team, not against it. There is only one prerequisite. The team members should have a common objectives, an identity they believe in, and shared values.

So it goes like this:

  • Have a team with no common believes and unified goals, and the organization will turn into a circus!
  • Have a team that shares a strong identity and give them the chance to do miracles.

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It does not matter how highly you think of yourself or your abilities, you are not a superman (nor a batman, nor a hulk, nor anyone of those super heros for that matter!) And what goes for the men goes for the ladies as well, so ladies, there is no chance for you to be the bionic woman.


According to this interesting blog post on HBR, doing more than one thing at a time kills your productivity by about 40%. Our brain is not programmed to multitask,  it is programmed to focus on one thing, and one thing only at a time. So you cannot really drive and talk on the phone, you cannot be in a meeting room discussing something and checking your emails, and you cannot be liesetning to your wife and texting someone at the same time.

Now the strange thing is that we are always expected to multitask as if it is the normal thing to do! When your coworker just drop on your office while you’re working on an important report, he is expecting you to answer his questions right away! When your manager calls at any moment, he is expecting you to pick up the phone no matter what! He will call you three consecutive times on your office following that by a series of mobile phone calls! And what really pisses me off is when someone sends you an email and in 10 seconds, he is calling you to tell you that he just sent you an email!!!! Even if you started reading his email, you will be distracted by his call! As mentioned in the same HBR post, peopel living under constant distractions during the day could face a 10 points fall in their IQs, this is equal to losing a one night sleep, and more than twice the effect of smoking marijuana!

The disaster is that some managers who should be the ones maintaining and elevating the productivity levels of their subordinates, they are the ones who usually cause the performance of their teams to drop. Keep surprising the staff with unplanned meetings, always changing and coming up with new processes, and most importantly, disrespecting the staff off times are all playing a major role in pushing the performance to its lowest levels.

Sit back now, relax, and start thinking about your day … How many marijuana did you have today??

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[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=construction+worker&iid=307203″ src=”0303/0000303913.jpg?adImageId=12670905&imageId=307203″ width=”234″ height=”234″ /]The blog post named “Discrimination at KAUST, the Oger Way” published today by Nathan, the American student at KAUST and the blogger of “Saudi Aggie,” was very disturbing and you have no choice but to finish reading it filled with sadness, anger, and frustration.

The discussion of how inhuman practices are spread in our ‘low class’ labor market is not new to the public scene, but it is an issue we just like to pretend it does not exist! It is no secret, to almost anybody, that these people are abused in so many ways. They are over worked and under paid. And do not let me start talking about their housing, medical coverage, and their overall humanistic well being.

Most Saudi companies are, unfortunately, part of this mess. Most of them are outsourcing these small-low-service jobs to few companies in the market without any kind of supervision or intervention. They just want to pay the least amount of money to get the job done … and that’s it! On the other hand, while the service companies are winning millions because of these contracts, they are giving the field workers the crumbs, if not less than that!

And let’s just get few steps away from the humanistic dimension of the problem. How these companies are expecting those workers to perform while living in such conditions. what kind of management and what kind of workers motivation is this?

I cannot comment much on Nathan’s post, it is self-explanatory, but I really hope this incident will be investigated by the KAUST administration. And that director who spelled those ugly-full-of racism comments about those poor workers to be investigated and even taken to court if found guilty. This should not be happening in the gate of our future! This is should not be happening in front of our guests who are coming from all over the world!

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[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=angry+woman&iid=296176″ src=”0292/c47ff305-10a8-4751-8aba-045430184868.jpg?adImageId=12480100&imageId=296176″ width=”234″ height=”353″ /]Are you familiar with those moments when you just about to snap, scream out loud, or even punch someone at the face? Maybe because of a ridicules email you just received, a stupid remark raised in a meeting, or a comment that got you really irritated. If you ever reacted to such catalysts right away without much of  a thinking like responding to that email with overly heated language or start screaming at your colleague because of his or her really stupid comment in the meeting, then you should be really careful because such reactions could mark your decision making abilities for a long time.

I know that you might argue that it really feels good to respond to those fools who usually send meaningless emails and how amazing it is to confront those show-off-know-it-all kinda of people in meetings. And you might also think that the whole heat of the moment would vanish in a matter of minuets or hours after that. Actually, Andrade and Ariely (2009)* have something else to say; they are arguing that ‘the influence of mild incidental emotions on decision making can live longer than the emotional experience itself.’ In simpler words, spontaneous reactions could be part of your decision making process on the long run. The mind usually travels back in time looking for similar experiences whenever confronted with a situation, this unconscious journey could leads the mind to take the same decisions that have been made in those moments of anger and irrationality. So you could end up repeating your mistakes and attitudes again and again without even noticing.

This could explain the behavior of many managers who are repeating themselves over and over again dealing with different situations in a similar attitude and narrow minded approaches. Such repetitions would eventually  kill innovation and creativity and will lead the whole team working with such managers and leaders to frustration and demotivation.

So the next time you are faced with such situation, you better think it over, weight your response, and if you can, sleep on it. No matter how satisfying the immediate responses might feel, their consequences could be damaging on many levels.

* Andrade, E. & Ariely, D., 2009. The Enduring Impact of Emotions on Decision Making. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Vol. 109, p. 1-8.

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