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One More Time: Hovy Do You Motivate Employees? Do You Motivate... · PDF fileOne More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees? together, work together. The fact Is that motivated people

May 03, 2018

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  • BEST OF HBR

    1968

    One More Time:Hovy Do YouMotivate Employees?by Frederick Herzberg

    When Frederick Herzberg researched the sources of employee

    motivation during the 1950s and 1960s, he discovered a

    dichotomy that stills intrigues (and baffles) managers; The

    things that make people satisfied and motivated on the job are

    different in kind from the things that make them dissatisfied.

    Ask workers what makes them unhappy at work, and you'll

    hear about an annoying boss, a low salary, an uncomfortable

    work space, or stupid rules. Managed badly, environmental

    factors make people miserable, and they can certainly be demo-

    tivating. But even if managed brilliantly, they don't motivate

    anybody to work much harder or smarter. People are motivated,

    instead, by interesting work, challenge, and increasing respon-

    sibility. These intrinsic factors answer people's deep-seated

    need for growth and achievement.

    Herzberg's work influenced a generation of scholars and managers-but his

    conclusions don't seem to have fully penetrated the American workplace, if the

    extraordinary attention still paid to compensation and incentive packages is

    any indication.

    Forget praise.

    Forget punishment.

    Forget cash.

    You need to make

    their jobs more

    interesting.

    How MANY ARTICLES, books,Speeches,and workshops have pleaded plain-tively, "How do I get an employee todo what I want?"

    The psychology of motivation is tre-mendously complex, and what has beenunraveled with any degree of assuranceis small indeed. But the dismal ratioof knowledge to speculation has notdampened the enthusiasm for newforms of snake oil that are constantlycoming on the market, many of themwith academic testimonials. Doubtlessthis article will have no depressing im-

    pact on the market for snake oil, butsince the ideas expressed in it have beentested in many corporations and otherorganizations, it will help-I hope-toredress the imbalance in the afore-mentioned ratio.

    "Motivating" with KITAIn lectures to industry on the problem,I have found that the audiences areusually anxious for quick and practicalanswers, so ! will begin with a straight-forward, practical formula for movingpeople.

    MOTIVATING PEOPLE JANUARY 2003 87

  • BEST OF HBR

    What is the simplest, surest, and mostdirect way of getting someone to dosomething? Ask? But if the person re-sponds that he or she does not wantto do it, then that calls for psychologi-cal consultation to determine the rea-son for such obstinacy. Tell the person?The response shows that he or she doesnot understand you, and now an expertin communication methods has to bebrought in to show you how to getthrough. Give the person a monetaryincentive? ! do not need to remind thereader of the complexity and difficultyinvolved in setting up and adminis-tering an incentive system. Show theperson? This means a costly trainingprogram. We need a simple way.

    Every audience contains the "directaction" manager who shouts, "Kick theperson!" And this type of manager isright. The surest and least circumlo-cuted way of getting someone to dosomething is to administer a kick in thepants- to give what might be calledthe KITA.

    There are various forms of KITA, andhere are some of them:

    Negative Physical KITA. This is a lit-eral application of the term and wasfrequently used in the past. It has, how-ever, three major drawbacks: i) It is in-elegant; 2) it contradicts the preciousimage of benevolence that most orga-nizations cherish; and 3) since it is aphysical attack, it directly stimulates theautonomie nervous system, and thisoften results in negative feedback-theemployee may just kick you in return.These factors give rise to certain taboosagainst negative physical KITA.

    In uncovering infinite sources of psy-chological vulnerabilities and the appro-priate methods to play tunes on them,

    Frederick Herzberg, Distinguished Pro-fessor of Management at the Universityof Utah in Salt Lake City, was head ofthedepartment of psychology at Case West-ern Reserve University in Cleveland whenhe wrote this article. His writings includethe book Work and the Nature of Man(World, 1966).

    psychologists have come to the rescue ofthose who are no longer permitted touse negative physical KITA/'He took myrug away"; "I wonder what she meant bythat"; "The boss is always going aroundme"-these symptomatic expressions ofego sores that have been rubbed raw arethe result of application of:

    Negative Psychological KITA. Thishas several advantages over negativephysical KITA. First, the cruelty is notvisible; the bleeding is internal andcomes much later. Second, since it af-fects the higher cortical centers of the

    I have a year-old schnauzer. When itwas a small puppy and I wanted it tomove, I kicked it in the rear and itmoved. Now that 1 have finished its obe-dience training, I hold up a dog biscuitwhen I want the schnauzer to move. Inthis instance, who is motivated-I or thedog? The dog wants the biscuit, but it isI who want it to move. Again, 1 am theone who is motivated, and the dog isthe one who moves. In this instance allI did was apply KITA frontally; I exerteda pull instead of a push. When industrywishes to use such positive KITAs, it has

    Have spiraling wages motivated people?

    Yes, to seek the next wage i ncrease.

    brain with its inhibitory powers, it re-duces the possibility of physical back-lash. Third, since the number of psy-chological pains that a person can feelis almost infinite, the direction and sitepossibilities ofthe KITA are increasedmany times. Fourth, the person admin-istering the kick can manage to beabove it all and let the system accom-plish the dirty work. Fifth, those whopractice it receive some ego satisfaction(one-upmanship), whereas they wouldfind drawing blood abhorrent. Finally,if the employee does complain, he orshe can always be accused of being para-noid; there is no tangible evidence of anactual attack.

    Now, what does negative KITA ac-complish? If I kick you in the rear (phys-ically or psychologically), who is motivated? / am motivated; you move!Negative KITA does not lead to moti-vation, but to movement. So:

    Positive KITA. Let us consider moti-vation. If I say to you, "Do this for me orthe company, and in return I will giveyou a reward, an incentive, more status,a promotion, all the quid pro quos thatexist in the industrial organization," amI motivating you? The overwhelmingopinion I receive from managementpeople is,"Yes, this is motivation."

    available an incredible number and va-riety of dog biscuits (jelly beans for hu-mans) to wave in front of employees toget them to jump.

    Myths About MotivationWhy is KITA not motivation? If I kickmy dog (from the front or the back), hewill move. And when I want him tomove again, what must I do? I must kickhim again. Similarly, I can charge a per-son's battery, and then recharge it, andrecharge it again. But it is only whenone has a generator of one's own thatwe can talk about motivation. One thenneeds no outside stimulation. One wantsto do it.

    With this in mind, we can reviewsome positive KITA personnel practicesthat were developed as attempts to in-still "motivation":

    1. Reducing Time Spent at Work.This represents a marvelous way of mo-tivating people to work-getting themoff the job! We have reduced (formallyand informally) the time spent on thejob over the last 50 or 60 years until weare finally on the way to the "6/=-dayweekend." An interesting variant of thisapproach is the development of off-hourrecreation programs. The philosophyhere seems to be that those who play

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  • One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?

    together, work together. The fact Is thatmotivated people seek more hours ofwork, not fewer.

    2. Spiraling Wages. Have these moti-vated people? Yes, to seek the next wageincrease. Some medievalists still can beheard to say that a good depression willget employees moving. They feel that ifrising wages don't or won't do the job,reducing them will.

    3. Fringe Benefits. Industry has out-done the most welfare-minded of wet-fare states in dispensing cradle-to-the-grave succor. One company I know ofhad an informal "fringe benefit of themonth club" going for a while. The costof fringe benefits in this country hasreached approximately 25% of the wagedollar, and we still cry for motivation.

    People spend less time working formore money and more security thanever before, and the trend cannot bereversed. These benefits are no longerrewards; they are rights. A 6-day week isinhuman, a 10-hour day is exploitation,extended medical coverage is a basic de-cency, and stock options are the salva-tion of American initiative. Unless theante is continuously raised, the psychological reaction of employees is that thecompany is turning back the clock.

    When industry began to realize thatboth the economic nerve and the lazynerve of their employees had insatiableappetites, it started to listen to the be-havioral scientists who, more out of ahumanist tradition than from scientificstudy, criticized management for not

    knowing how to deal with people. Thenext KITA easily followed.

    4. Human Relations Training. Morethan 30 years of teaching and, in manyinstances, of practicing psychologicalapproaches to handling people haveresulted in costly human relations pro-grams and, in the end, the same ques-tion: How do you motivate workers?Here, too, escalations have taken place.Thirty years ago it was necessary to re-quest, "Please don't spit on the floor."Today the same admonition requiresthree "pleases" before the employeefeels that a superior has demonstratedthe psychologically proper attitude.

    The failure of human relations train-ing to produce motivation led to