The author of this highly rated article is Paul du Toit, CSP.
Author, Mindset Shifter, Certified Speaking Professional
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Let’s say you worked for a company fixing machinery or on the production line. You don’t have a matric for reasons we won’t go into here, so your salary isn’t great. Above you are supervisors, then managers and even higher up – directors. You don’t get to have your say, you’re not instrumental in making decisions about your work or working environment, and you feel that your prospects for promotion and more money do not exist.
In this typical scenario, would coming to work on a Monday morning be motivating for you? Would you feel inclined to put in overtime without extra pay? And would you turn down an opportunity to strike for higher wages? Hang on, we’re not talking about someone else here, we’re imagining for a moment that this is you. My question is, how would you feel?
If it were me I would feel trapped, frustrated and probably rebellious. I would wonder where all the money goes that comes into the company, and when I see my directors driving into the car park in their flashy German sedans, in my mind, my questions would be answered.
This illustration may be a little extreme, but extreme is reality and exists in profusion throughout our country. Potentially it’s a time-bomb waiting to explode. There are two scenarios that spring to mind when dealing with a time-bomb:
- Hold your breath until it goes off
- Try and defuse it.
Here’s my point. People become motivated when they feel they are valued and that their voices are heard. That is the underlying principle of why unions exist, to give their constituencies a voice of representation. People tend to be more cooperative when they understand the bigger picture and how they fit into it. And people will perform when they have hope, because the opposite of hope is hopeless (which in the modern context often describes someone who can do nothing right).
So I’d go for defusing the time bomb.
Since 1991 I have been involved in the business of opening the eyes of people who are stuck in a certain way of thinking and inviting them to see other possibilities that could benefit not only them directly, but the people with whom they come into contact daily. Mercifully, during this time my eyes have been opened in so many ways.
It may be showing someone that they, too, have the ability to get up and talk to an audience. Sometimes it’s illustrating how people will want to do business with you if you make them feel special. We’ve shown our delegates that it takes the same amount of time to make a pittance as it does to make a fortune. Other times we are able to point out to folk that if the job were not important it wouldn’t exist. And many have learned that it’s time to shake off what you started with and go out there and get what’s yours. And still others discover that they may have been employed for their skills and abilities, but when they are the ones that get retrenched, it was usually because of their attitudes.
You will never see change in a person or group of people unless there is some kind of catalyst for change. One of the most effective methods of doing this is to create interventions that ask questions of current behaviour and illustrate the benefits of a different approach. When these interventions are accompanied by participation and a adjustment of managerial approach, magic happens.
I have little sympathy for the view that training achieves nothing. This is because I fully agree, on it’s own it does worse than achieve nothing – it is counter productive because it raises expectations and then dashes them. You train, people get motivated, and in a few weeks they are back to what they were before.
I am, however, of the view that any interventions that are supported by management and integrated into the daily “way of doing things” can and does change a company’s culture permanently, and the everyday interactions of individuals within such companies. It has also been my experience that happy, motivated people are significantly more productive.