The Importance of Intrinsic Motivation

When I think of motivation in the workplace, I would immediately associate it with a corporate setting. During one seminar, Professor Audrey Chia mentioned that she observed the behaviour of surgeons while they were in the operating theatre and noted that the surgeons did indeed behave differently when they knew they were being observed. An article by Low & Robertson discussed the sources of motivation among hospital employees in Singapore and how managers can “use non-monetary rewards to motivate their  employees in service industries” (Low & Robertson, 2006).  This essay will thus discuss the importance of intrinsic motivation of employees in service industries. The paper highlights that although money is one form of motivation, “60.46% [of employees] expressed their emphasis on non-monetary aspects or rewards of motivation” (Low & Robertson, 2006).  Non-monetary motivation which managers can apply include praise and recognition, care and concern, empowering and developing employees and ensuring person-environment fit.

Intrinsic motivation is important in services industries because it is a “vital currency for an organization’s survival and success” (Low & Robertson, 2006). For instance, giving praise and recognition makes employees feel respected  and appreciated and will hence produce good results in their jobs. Praise and recognition will increase one’s self-efficacy through verbal persuasion, making them more confident in their ability to perform their job. When a manager provides care and concern for an employee facing personal challenges, the employee will be better able to focus on his work tasks once his personal problems have been resolved. In addition, empowering and developing employees makes them “feel at home”, thus fostering and strengthening relationships between the manager and subordinates. Thus, employees will be more committed to a firm that cares for their needs and their well-being and gives employees a sense of ownership into what they do , as indicated by Dan Ariely. This is not to say that extrinsic motivation i.e. money is not effective. However, money is a fluid motivator and is only effective to a certain extent. For instance, money “is the vehicle by which employees can buy the numerous need-satisfying things they desire” (Low & Robertson, 2006). This can be linked to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs where the “need-satisfying things” are the physiological needs such as shelter and food. However, money undermines employee’s motivation and makes them feel under-appreciated. Eventually, this increases a firm’s turnover rate. In my opinion, money as a motivation can be used to reward employees based on their performance but should be complemented with non-monetary motivation.

Secondly, intrinsic motivation is important in service industries because of the “trying” nature of the industry (Low & Robertson, 2006). Taking care of patients can be a difficult task because it requires the tailoring of one’s efforts and behaviour to individual patient needs. Moreover, employees will also be tasked with different situations everyday and may end up questioning the purpose of their jobs. Hence, in such a service environment, a high level of job engagement is needed, which is the “investment of an employee’s physical, cognitive and emotional energies into job performance” (Robbins & Judge, 2012). When an employee is highly engaged in her job, she believes it is meaningful to engage in it and because the organization’s values are similar to the employees, where employees with the same values are working together. If there is a misfit in values, employees may feel dissatisfied and will be unmotivated working in such a trying environment, causing him to eventually leave the job. In my opinion, not only is value-matching and job engagement important, managers in service industry can engage in recognitions such as employee of the month awards and participative management where employees are involved in the decision-making with their subordinates. This thus increases their allegiance to the company and provides a greater meaning in their job.

In conclusion, service industries have dynamic and highly adaptable environments. Intrinsic motivation makes a job fun to do even during difficult situations. In my opinion, the extent of intrinsic motivation depends on the company’s culture. A manager is severely limited to provide intrinsic motivation if the company has a task-oriented and hierarchy-oriented culture where achieving results are important. Hence, in such an environment, motivating employees intrinsically may be considered a secondary priority. Moreover, I feel that a relationship-oriented and egalitarian-oriented culture is a necessary complementary to intrinsic motivation for employees because the values and actions are practised every day, as seen in the example of the action of the employees in the siege of the Taj Hotel by terrorists.

References

Low, K. C., & Robertson, R. W. (2006). Not for Bread Alone—Motivation Among Hospital. Public Organization Review , 6 (2), pp 155-166.

Robbins, S., & Judge, T. (2012). Organizational Behavior. Prentice Hall.

 

Channeling Motivation

Living in the modern age where digital communication is the new norm, it is easy to make the assumption that managing human expectations and behavior is now passé. Human interaction is being downplayed through the use of automated messages or text only interactions. This then contributes to a mentality, which also downplays the need for organizational behavior management. On the contrary, due to the rapidly connecting world of business, organizational behavior is in fact, more important than ever before due to the growing weight of each customer touch point. With less and less customer interaction, each interaction can make or break the impression one holds of the organization. As succinctly put by Gary Hamel, “competition now increasingly stands between competing business concepts”, in other words, the human touch can be a foundation for businesses to build their success off.

Unfortunately, it is not as easy as we assume to manage our human resources. From personal experiences in working, corporate burnout for employees is a real problem that is plaguing organizations. Creating a healthy working environment for the social and mental wellbeing of employees is something that most strive towards but fail to do so. In fact, we can see that the topic of beating the dreaded “Monday Blues” trending every week, making this idea of motivation and engagement more pertinent than ever before.

Companies can be so fixated on the buzzword of “motivation” and the potential benefits that it brings, that they forget to develop the processes that get them there. Focusing on the process can be more beneficial as it would not merely be a obligatory idea generation exercise, but employees will be more committed and motivated to being innovative. An example of this would be in how Google promotes creativity amongst its staff through different channels of expression. For example, the company has provided cafes to promote interaction amongst staff to help “percolate” ideas and sift out the best. Employees are also encouraged direct question to leaders, which gives them a better understanding of the big picture. We can deduce that without proper channels to for employees to express themselves and develop themselves, motivation will be lower.

From this, we can make four recommendations for companies looking to have more motivated employees:

1) Create an environment that values not only ideas but employees themselves

In creating an environment that values employees as well as ideas, it avoids one of the major pitfalls of organizational behavior, transactional relationships. Employees should feel as far as possible, a sense of ownership and familiarity within their respective institutions of employment. This way, short-termism in thinking can be avoided. Furthermore, employees should have a stronger sense of connection with the company, which will then increase their inherent sense of motivation.

2) Ensure there are channels for opinions to be expressed

Leading on, having channels for creativity and feedback creates a more holistic environment for employees as they will be more likely to feel that their actions shape the company around them. Much like what Google has done, it not only betters the future of the company but also shapes the environment that employees would like to see themselves working in.

3) Have open 2-way communication if feasible

2-way communication channels between employees and their superiors will increase motivation in the long run assuming it is employed correctly. That is to say, merely having a suggestion box in the office is insufficient. Instead, issues that are raised by employees should be taken into consideration in a serious manner. Feedback that is provided could very well impact internal operations or external reception of an organization.

4) Reinforce a customer centric culture

A customer centric culture helps to tie up what this entry has been touching on, that customers will differentiate businesses in the future based on how they perceive they have been engaged. This recommendation does not look at creating mindless zombies that are falsely led to believe that “the customer is king”. But rather, they should be motivated to look into areas where they can create value for a customer and enhance their experience. That way, it becomes less of a rigid mantra and more of a culture that employees themselves can believe in.

From the above recommendations, organisations will hopefully be able to create an environment that is holistic in terms of customer and employee valuing. Employees will then be more likely to be contributing and empowered members of a common team and thereby be more able to work towards shared goals.

Resources:

He, L. (2013, March 23). Google’s secrets of innovation: Empowering its employees. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/laurahe/2013/03/29/googles-secrets-of-innovation-empowering-its-employees/

Neilsen, C., & Montemari, M. (2012). The role of human resources in business model performance: the case of network-based companies. Journal of Human Resource Costing & Accounting, 16(2), 142-164. Retrieved from www.emeraldinsight.com/1401-338X.htm

On Emotions and Moods

I found the topic on Emotions and Moods very interesting and applicable, as they are omnipresent in our daily life. Yet, It is common to hear people often mistakenly using terms such as “affect”, “emotion” and “mood” interchangeably without knowing the underlying differences. Thus, I would like to first clarify the definitions again based on Organizational Behavior textbook to avoid misunderstanding of these essential concepts of the topic discussed in this blog post.

Affect is “a broad range of feelings that people experience”, including emotions and moods. Emotions refers to “intense feelings that are directed at someone or something” while moods are “feelings that tend to be less intense and lack a contextual stimulus.”

Various emotions exist; however, the six universal ones are anger, fear, sadness, happiness, disgust, and surprise. On the other hand, basic moods are divided into positive and negative affects.

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Emotions can turn into moods when you lose focus on the event/object that started the feeling and bad moods can make you more emotional in response to an event. Such transition can be detrimental. Thus, I believe one should try to remain clear-headed and objective in their judgment by breaking away from that negative emotion/mood as soon as possible to avoid its spillover effect.

While reading the textbook, I also came across a concept called Positivity Offset, which refers to “the tendency of most individuals to experience a mildly positive mood at zero input (when nothing in particular is going on)”. In my opinion, such concept may not be universal, but varying among countries and cultures. For instance, the Positivity Offset concept and the saying “No news is good news” are more likely to fit people/society (e.g. Japanese) who tend to be more risk-averse and less inclined to challenge the status quo. Meanwhile, such concept may not apply for people/society (e.g. American) who tend to be more adventurous, constantly seeking for changes and the associated excitements.

As emotions are critical to both rational and ethical thinking as explained in the text, which I highly agree with, it is impossible to function without them on a daily basis.

“Should people leave out emotions when working?”

Yet, how about emotional labor where emotions are the very forefront of the work services provided? Emotional labor can be defined as “a situation in which an employee expresses organizationally desired emotions during interpersonal transactions at work”. For such cases, emotions tend to be put under significant self-control such that the displayed emotions must always fit the work requirements but may not match the felt emotions. Such conflict causes emotional dissonance, which refers to “the inconsistencies between the emotions people feel and the emotions they project”. However, the question is: Is it always the best idea for organizations to consider and act in the interest of the felt emotions of all employees?

Another important application of this topic towards Organizational Behavior is clearly demonstrated in the Affective Events Theory.

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It shows how workplace hassles and uplifting events influence employee performance and satisfaction. Below are some real life examples provided to support this point.

When in South Korea, I had the chance to experience first-hand the sales tactics used at ABC-Mart, a popular footwear chain.

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The remarkable features at all their outlets were the employments of customer greeters, their salespersons’ periodic applauses, and the fast-paced background music. For instance, upon entering the shop, customers would be instantly greeted loudly and cheerfully by the front door employees. Within the shop, salespersons constantly gave rounds of applause every 2 minutes, creating a highly joyful and energetic atmosphere as if cheering shoppers to make their purchasing decisions swiftly. Furthermore, there was also fast-paced music playing in the background to perhaps enhance the high-energy atmosphere. The high-level energy created here was supposed to have positive effects on both the consumers as well as the employees working at the shop. It encouraged customers to make their purchasing decisions while also helped enhance the level of enthusiasm, work stamina and performance of the employees through appealing to their emotions and moods.

In fact, such shrewd leverage on the power of emotions and moods at work is also well used in other companies worldwide. For example, Uniqlo has all their outlets implemented the people greeters as well.

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Likewise, Wal-Mart adopts those measures together with the practice of Wal-Mart cheers at every outlet each morning.

“Wal-Mart People Greeter”

“Wal-Mart Cheers”

Wal-Mart Cheers not only help boost the work morale of the employees by making a strong emotional bond with the company but also help remind them of the company vision and target as vividly shown in the lyrics of the cheers.

“Whose Walmart is it? It’s my Walmart! / Who’s number one? The customer! Always!”

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Textbook References:

Stephen P. Robbins, Timothy A. Judge. , Organizational Behavior, 15th global ed. , Harlow : Pearson, 2013.

If all the world was a stage, how do we stage our plays?

We see emotional labour manifested in our daily lives, in our daily interaction with those around us. True emotions are suppressed by those surface acting, as part of the role they personify on stage and perhaps such emotions accumulate and erupt when the boiling point is reached. How then can we effectively account for and manage the emotional dissonance inherent in the workplace?

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(Can you guess his felt emotion?)

Throughout the course of our seminar discussions, we have uncovered the terms – surface acting and deep acting – where surface acting involves the appropriate display of an emotion despite it not being a felt emotion, whereas deep acting has a connotation of tailoring one’s internal emotions to match that which is required in a particular circumstance. Emotional labour demands and draws energy from the performer and can potentially result in exhaustion in the long-run. Research states that those who employ surface acting might face a greater sense of impaired self-evaluation, thus making them more susceptible to such consequences as compared to those engaging in deep acting.

A case study was conducted in the University of Memphis by a Ph.D. Candidate, Julianne Pierce, to assess the toll of emotional labour in service-intensive jobs. The research aims to build healthier employees and increase job satisfaction levels through educating and training employees on how to better control emotions at workplaces.

University of Memphis – Emotional Labour Case Study

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(Ph.D. Candidate, Julianne Pierce)

Whilst training programmes may be put in place to equip and empower employees on better managing one’s emotions in organisations, the responsibility of the employer in ensuring that emotional dissonance should not result in an adverse impact on employees should not be shrugged off. Perhaps management level staff in organisations should collectively be educated on how to read employee’s emotions. A Harvard University social intelligence test equates the ability to identify the emotions of others to social intelligence and subsequently relates that to the performance in a team-based problem-solving task. One limitation of this test, however, is the fact that the entire face is not revealed and more often than not, it is the construct of the facial muscles that aid in our determining of one’s emotions. If you are interested to see how you’d fare in the test, take it here!

That aside, organisational factors and systems play a pivotal role and have bearing on the ability of an employee to withstand emotional dissonance. Three factors, in particular, stand out to me personally as the essentials for allowing employees to manage workplace emotions or to feel that the benefits of their emotional labour outweigh the investment placed in it.

1. Organizational Identity

Organizations that have dominant features that mark the culture, values and missions that it stands for automatically pre-empts employees on the sets of behaviors expected of them. The importance of a clearly defined organizational identity would probably be most evident upon recruitment, where a prospect hire is assessed based on a job-fit matching. As such, it would significantly reduce one’s need to display emotions out of one’s character and nature to suit the culture and values of the organization.

2. Recognition

A workplace that recognizes the labour of their employees in congruence with the emotional labour actually invested and performed builds the motivation and the cause for an employee to continually investing in the organization. Social recognition, from peers and bosses, as compared to financial recognition can potentially empower the worth of an individual employee to feel that the labour in which they emotionally invested in was worthwhile. It would thus justify the purpose behind the emotionally intensive job description.

3. Monitoring

Tracking one’s emotional labour and performance/output through multiple mechanisms of control in an organization is essential. However, measuring those indicators alone might not enhance a management’s ability to intervene in a situation. As such, I believe that companies should introduce a metric that might not necessarily be employed universally as yet – the Emotional Intelligence Test. This metric gauges the ability to recognize your own emotions, understand what they are communicating to you and realizing the impact of your emotions on the people and situation surrounding you. The results of which ultimately translates to the ability of an individual to manage relationships effectively.

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(P.S. I love such tests, so here are two links to two different Emotional Intelligence Tests – the long version [Queendom, based on Daniel Goleman’s research] and the short version [Goleman’s EQ Test])

To wrap it up, I believe that taking the workplace to be our stage, both individuals and the organizations at large work hand-in-hand to manage the emotional labour invested in our performances.

Reference to Study
Organizational Consequences of Emotional Labour in Management
Kornelia Lazanyi
(http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/104684/2/21_Lazanyi_Organozational_Apstract_j.pdf)

How to deal with culture diversity

Singapore is known for being a multi-racial nation with combination of various cultures in the society. It started in the 19th century where immigrants from various countries came to Singapore to seek for better job prospects. These immigrants brought along their cultures with them and contributed to the multi-ethnicity component of Singapore that we have today. Since then, we have our four major ethnic groups, namely the Chinese, Malays, Indians and Eurasians (Your Singapore).

Due to globalization, economies integrate and factors like easier mobilization of labour allow us to observe a fusion of cultures from all over the world. To Singapore, this means there are addition of new cultures to our existing few and it has resulted in pros and cons to our society, and as well as, in our workplace.

Hence, in this post, I would like to focus on the cultures in work domains.

Singapore, being a global city, has welcomed various multinational brands to invest in the country and has also encouraged them to set up branches or subsidiaries, alongside with our small-medium enterprises (SMEs). Eventually, we will all end up working for either multi-national companies (MNCs) or SMEs, or both in our entire working life and it is very clear to us that both MNCs and SMEs have different cultural views where the former takes up a more globalized / foreign perspective while the latter focuses more on localized cultures.

It is inevitable to have cultural conflicts. After all, not every individual has the same set of beliefs. Even 2 individuals that come from the same ethnic group (e.g., Chinese) may have varied opinions, not to mention individuals from different ethnic groups.

So, my question is, how do we react to cultural diversity in our workplace?

A Peacock in the Land of Penguins by BJ Gallagher

What will you do if you are the peacock? Will you choose to change your personal beliefs and values in order to match the others (penguins)? Or you would expect the others to accept and adapt to your culture?

And what if there are some people who refuse to give in and insist that their culture is superior over the others? How do we deal with them? Get into a fight and make the workplace like a warzone, or we should leave and find the “Land of Opportunity”?

Personally, I feel that compromisation would be good and so, both sides would be able to retain their personal beliefs without having anyone forsaking their culture for the others. But in order to do that, both sides would require open-mindedness and the will to accept these cultural differences, which may even be considered offensive or unacceptable within their own culture.

We all know that there is absolutely no way for us to avoid cultural diversity. Rather than avoiding it, why not try to embrace them?

When we are interacting with someone of different cultural diversity, we could consider the following tips:

#1 – Use observation skills

When you are talking to your new colleague, you can try to pay more attention on the other party’s body language and social behaviour. You could also make use of real-life cases and pose several generic questions to test out the type of perceptions or beliefs that he/she has.

#2 – Patience

Don’t get annoyed at people for doing things that are not acceptable to you. Instead, be patient and try to understand why they are doing it.

#3 – Research on various cultures

This is exceptionally useful when you have to deal with important clients of different cultural backgrounds.

#4 – Don’t assume

Not everybody in the same ethnic group holds the same set of beliefs, so don’t assume everyone believes or acts the same way! You can have all the information that you need about the different cultural backgrounds but at the end of the day, observing is the key to have a pleasant collaboration/talk/friendship.

#5 – Appreciate differences

You need to have an open mind when comes to cultural diversity. Never despise, but instead, understand why or how others have a different set of perceptions from you.

 

Ultimately, there is no one-stop solution to the topic of cultural diversity but I would like to strongly emphasize on the notion of open-mindness as I felt it is the first step to embracing the diverse workforce. What do you guys think? 🙂

 

Reference:

Your Singapore. (n.d.). Culture, Language and People. Retrieved from Your Singapore: http://www.yoursingapore.com/content/traveller/en/browse/aboutsingapore/people-lang-culture.html

 

Coping with different generations under the same company.

Having discussed about the distinctive characteristics of both Generation X and Y, we have acknowledged the inevitable interaction of young graduates having to work with significantly older colleagues in the workplace. However, many of us, as seen during the class discussion, were apprehensive on how the “generation gap” would affect the workplace climate and also, the tenacious challenge of deriving job satisfaction when needed to balance differing expectations and communicating with one another. Despite the lukewarm response of working with older colleagues, I have a fresh take on this issue to share with everyone and I hope to, perhaps, present to you a different and more optimistic perspective.

Before embarking further on this blog post, I thought that it would be more appropriate for me to iron out the definitions of the various Generations present in today’s society.

Traditionalists:   Born approximately pre-1946
Baby Boomers: Born approximately 1946 – 1964
Generation X:    Born approximately 1965 – 1977
Generation Y:     Born approximately 1977 – 1995
IGen:                   Born approximately 1996 onwards

The more relevant Generations involved in the discussion on workplace diversity and job satisfaction would be Generations X & Y.  I chanced upon an interesting video on Jason Dorsey, otherwise known as the Gen Y Guy. He focuses on solving generational challenges and his speeches have garnered him over 1000 standing ovations from the United States, capturing the hearts and minds of all ages. An interesting take away from this video clip is the ubiquitous mistake of our society for stereotyping and categorizing Generations.  Not only does this narrow our perception of people from different Generations, it hinders the route towards collaboration. Generation Y is known for having an appetite for big expectations but not knowing the steps needed to take us there, an important trait that Generation X has. Inclusiveness and collaboration, as espoused by Dorsey, are vital components to unlocking an immense amount of potential in a generation diverse team in the company.

Now, you may ask – why are more companies adopting the strategy of creating and nurturing the environment for creative self-efficacy and innovation? Does it not pander to the preferences of Generation Ys more than Xs? In my humble opinion, I feel that companies are looking beyond their employees’ Generation whims and fancies but rather, the general business climate that is increasingly dynamic and demanding. While it is a known fact that majority of Generation Ys have a strong sense of entitlement, routine tasks and the lack of acknowledgement for work done naturally reduces our motivation to work. Nonetheless, this sentiment is not pigeonholed in accordance to Generation, but rather, a common consensus amongst people. No one likes to be unrecognized and pushed to the background after putting in effort into a task, isn’t it?

The clip below is taken from “The Office”, an American sitcom that depicts the daily life of employees working under an incompetent boss in a highly unmotivated company culture. Personally, I enjoyed the clip and feel that it aptly captures the essence of motivation and job satisfaction in the workplace.

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G59KY7ek8Rk)
The video draws reference to Alfie Kohn’s article, The Risks of Rewards, an insightful article that debunks the perception of rewarding. Similar to the TEDtalk video by Dan Pink who spoke on the topic: The puzzle of motivation, Alfie states that rewards (including monetary incentives) cause people to lose interest in whatever they were rewarded for doing and be less inclined to explore ideas.  Therefore, the question leaders and managers need to ask if not how motivated their employees are, but how their employees are motivated. More importantly, by capitalizing on Generation Y’s high need for self-entitlement, this strategy may cultivate hard working and reliable employees for the company.

In conclusion, it is advisable for employees in the workplace to view one another as value adding partners instead of discrimination based on differences in age and experiences. In addition to the usual call of duty, leaders and managers are also responsible for nurturing a workplace environment that fosters and nurtures employees to gain ownership of their work, which in turn, increases their job satisfaction.

Video URL for Jason Ryan Dorsey Video

Sources
Dorsey, J. (n.d.). The top 10 millennials & gen y questions answered. Retrieved from http://jasondorsey.com/millennials/the-top-gen-y-questions-answered/

Kohn, A. (n.d.). The risks of rewards. Retrieved from http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/ror.htm

Schmidt, M. (2004, FEB 19). The three c’s of motivation. Retrieved from http://www.shininglightreading.com/kidstalknews/2006/02/three-cs-of-motivation.html

Money in the workplace

At the very first class of my exchange to Singapore, the professor made us do a simple exercise: ask our neighbor what inspired them in life. Mine was to discover new cultures, to meet new people and to uncover the marvelous things that populate this world. Obviously, I was expecting approximately the same from the other people. At my greatest surprise, half of the Singaporean male students said money inspired them in life. I dare say that was the first cultural shock I experienced since my arrival to Singapore. Therefore, I’d like to cogitate about the cultural approach to money along with its use at work.

 

Coming from a place where money isn’t that much highly admired (Quebec, Canada), I was astonished to see people openly talking about their desire of money. I knew the Singaporean approach of growth at all cost, without consideration of other aspects of life, but I didn’t know to what extent. Hearing one colleague say “I don’t care how much I’ll work, as long as I get paid well” was a big shock. No wonder, why Singapore was classified as one of the unhappiest countries in a Gallup report a year ago.[1] However, Singapore was ranked top in Asia a recent UN World Happiness Report.[2] Maybe the difference in the indicators brought a big variability in the data, maybe things changed within a year, but one thing is sure: one of the top regret people have on their deathbed is that they’ve worked too hard, generally at the expense of their family and relationships.[3] Maybe on this aspect of work, my Singaporean colleagues can inspire themselves a little bit from the Canadian work style, where more and more focus is placed on work flexibility and the ability to balance personal and professional life.

 

In the second part of my blog, I’d like to tackle the money matter from an employer’s point of view, rather than an employee’s as in the first part. In Judge and al.’s meta-analysis that synthesized over 120 years of research, the results showed that the link between salary and job satisfaction was very weak.[4] In fact, there was only an overlap of 2% between these two indicators. From this, we can see that paying people more doesn’t make them happier, which ultimately doesn’t improve their commitment at work and their performance. Another research by Booz & Co. looked into the military work to dig more on the sources of motivation. Here are their findings:

–Money encourages self-serving short-term behaviors better than it motivates lasting institutional achievement.

–An overreliance on monetary rewards invariably erodes emotional commitment.

–Pride in one’s work itself is what brings on lasting improvement in behavior.

–The informal elements of motivation are at least as important as the formal ones.[5]

 

The question now is: if money doesn’t motivate people, then what will? That’s where I found this McKinsey study about alternative ways to motivate people. Titled “Motivating people: Getting beyond money”, this article was published shortly after the last recession, when employers had to find ways to cut costs while maintaining motivation at work. The top three nonfinancial motivators are the following: “praise from immediate managers, leadership attention (for example, one-on-one conversations), and a chance to lead projects or task forces”.[6] Surprisingly, these motivators were as effective, if not more than the financial motivators (cash bonuses, increased base pay and stock options). Another thing I learned is that Singaporeans are foodies, so here’s some food for thought!



[1] http://edition.cnn.com/2012/12/21/world/asia/singapore-least-happy/

[2] http://www.asianewsnet.net/A-measure-of-happiness-in-Singapore-52744.html

[3] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2515508/Top-regrets-dying-revealed.html

[4] http://www.timothy-judge.com/Judge,%20Piccolo,%20Podsakoff,%20et%20al.%20(JVB%202010).pdf

[5] http://www.forbes.com/2010/04/06/money-motivation-pay-leadership-managing-employees.html

[6] http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/organization/motivating_people_getting_beyond_money

MOTIVATION in day to day life

What is motivation?  Motivation in literal term means ‘desire to do things’. It is a very crucial element in setting and achieving the desired goals.  It is a driving force that reinforces an action towards a desired goal. Motivation can originate from specific physical needs such as sleeping, eating etc.  Motivation is a driving force, which is very important for a company as it helps in achieving the goals effectively and much more efficiently. I would like to put forward my viewpoint using some real life examples :

The first example that I would like to take and explore is of my father. My father is a garment exporter and is highly dedicated to his work. I sometimes question myself that ‘is he really happy in what he is doing or is it just to earn the bread and butter for the family?’ If he is happy, then what are the factors, which are motivating or allowing him to do so? From my observations, I have noticed that he is deeply involved in his work. There are certain factors that interest and motivate him in what he is doing. Firstly, the zest to become one of the largest garment exporters of India motivates him. He is very passionate and dedicated to his work. Secondly, my father, since the childhood, has been very interested in fashion. He used to go for fashion shows, attend fashion weeks with my grandfather. In this case, his interest acted as a motivation factor
Thirdly, the responsibility of earning the bread and butter for the family motivates him.  He makes sure that he works effectively and efficiently so that the family doesn’t suffer.

For the above case, I would like to sum-up by saying that motivation is a very important factor and plays a key role in the success of any organization or an individual. If a person has motivation factors that drive him towards his or her goals, then the target could be achieved much more easily.

The next example that I would like to take is of my mother. My mother takes care of the full house and at the same time also supports my father in the family business. On the other hand, she is very passionate about cooking. She can cook different types of cuisines depending upon the occasion and her mood. There are certain factors that motivate her. Firstly, she cooks so that her family could have a good, proper and a delicious meal. For her, happiness of the family means everything. Secondly, she cooks because it buys her interest. She finds its very pleasing and feels quite relaxed while cooking. It eases her tension and lessens the burdens on her mind.  Happiness and “interest’ are the 2 factors that motivates my mother in the above case

The next example that I would like to take is of my friend ‘Shaun’. I have known Shaun since childhood. We were in the same school and have grown up together. We used to share a common boundary wall back at home. He has been closest to my heart and is like a brother to me. Currently he is doing law from a very well renowned university in The United States. Glancing at his day to day to routine, makes me wonder that why is he is working so hard as he and his family are already so well of financially. I tried to observe that what are the factors that are motivating him and why he chose to study law out of all the available fields

From my observations, I got to know that he chose law as he found it extremely interesting. He had a keen interest in the department of laws. Shaun, coming from a business family background never had interest in his family business. He wants to do something of his own and that aim of doing something different motivates him. His interest along with the aim of doing something different from his family business made him choose law. Today, he is quite happy in what he is doing as it interests him. He never gets bored of it. On the other hand, IF he would have had taken something that did not catch his attention or did not interest him, then he would not have had been happy on what he is doing. He would have done it just for the sake of it. I am really satisfied to now that he is doing what he loves. It motivates him

From all the examples stated above, I would like to conclude that a person should do whatever interests him/her. There is no greater motivational factor than “personal interest”. If a person were not keen in doing in what he/she is doing then the results could be unfruitful.

Organisational Culture, Change and Emotions

Change is the only constant. In today’s volatile business world, organisations are ever-changing, be it through mergers and acquisitions or internal organisational restructuring.

In a study by Roy K. Smollan and Janet G. Sayers in 2009, they attempt to uncover the relationships between organisational culture, organisational change and emotions by conducting a qualitative study. The study found that during the process of organisational change, participants would experience both positive and negative emotions. The amount of emotional labour participants had to shoulder during their organisation’s change process depends on their organisation’s affective culture. In addition, having a positive organisational affective culture plays an important role in managing the change process.

Schein (2004) defined organisational culture as a pattern of shared assumptions learned by a group as it solve its problem of external adaption and internal integration. Hence, organisational culture strongly shapes the behaviour of employees in both explicit and implicit ways, including when there is organisational change. Organisational change has cognitive, affective and behavioural components. However, often little attention is paid to the affective aspects of organisational change (Piderit, 2000; Szabla, 2007). Organisational change gives rise to emotions as employees undergo the change process. Emotions are strong feelings that are usually directed at someone or something (Frijda, 1988; Lazarus, 1991).

Organisational culture, organisational change and emotions are related in four different ways. Firstly, organisational change can trigger emotions. Secondly, organisational culture is imbued with emotion. As a result, organisational cultural change is especially emotional. A change in organisational culture could be a purposeful management strategy, or it could be an indirect consequence of the management’s strategic, operational or tactical changes. As the case of Hewlett-Packard illustrates, strategy, structure and organisational culture all changed with a new CEO (Forster, 2006). Profit-sharing was replaced by individual performance measures. This resulted in the previous family-like culture giving way to one more focussed on the individual. Thirdly, an organisation’s affective culture influences how employees feel and express emotions. Lastly, there may be some parts of an organisation’s culture that an employee may favour. This may affect the employee’s emotional response to organisational changes.

The findings of the study reveal that when an organisation is undergoing change, employees experience both positive and negative emotions. However, there tends to be more negative than positive emotions experienced. This is because when organisational changes results in organisational culture change (which is a change in value), this changes employees’ sense of identity, be it through a actual or perceived loss in authority, power, status or pay and benefits.

For people who are expected to implement or lead the organisational changes, they experience emotional labour for they are responsible for injecting the appropriate type of emotion when persuading other employees to accept the change. Emotional labour is the control of a person’s behaviour to display the appropriate emotions (Chu 2002). How much emotional labour they need to shoulder depends on the organisation’s affective culture. A few of the study participants revealed that emotion management was considered part of the role of the ‘professional’ image of the manager and some indicated that their organisational culture played a part. For participants with perceived organisational support in the form of tangible or psychological support, they thought that the support did provide them with some degree of comfort.

Finally, the findings show that a number of participants confirmed that the way in which change was managed reflected aspects of the existing culture that they liked or disliked. In particular, Participant ‘E’, a senior human resources manager, believed that his organisation had a very positive culture, where there was open communication and constructive feedback, and where staff members could ‘challenge’ management by expressing their opinions. This was helpful in the context of change because management were open about their intentions and employees could be equally frank.

In conclusion, organisational change has the power to modify the organisational culture, be it deliberately or otherwise, and thereby influence employees’ emotional responses. Conversely, organisational culture affects the way in which employees respond to the organisational change on an emotional level.

This study is of value, especially to change managers, because it enables them to understand the relationships between organisational culture, organisational change and the employees’ emotions. Organisational culture must be taken into consideration as a factor that potentially relates to employees’ response to organisational change. Since both organisational culture and organisational change have an affective element to them, the top management of an organisation, and change managers responsible for managing their organisation’s change process, must take note of the culture of their organisation, and what potentially might be the outcomes when organisational culture changes.

Having understanding of the relationship between organisational culture, organisational change and emotions also helps managers to better manage their own, and their employees’ emotions during times of organisational change. To reduce the negative emotions that employees experience during organisational change, it is important to help employees see that their identity in the organisation is not compromised by the organisational change, especially if this loss of identity of perceived and not real. If it is unavoidable that an employee loses some benefits or status in the organisational change process, having support, be it tangible or psychological, will greatly help to reduce the negative emotions that the employee experience, and enable him or her to be able to better manage them.

 

Reference to Study:

Roy K. Smollan & Janet G. Sayers (2009) Organizational Culture, Change and Emotions: A Qualitative Study, Journal of Change Management, 9:4, 435-457, DOI: 10.1080/14697010903360632

 

What impact does culture have?

With regards to the lecture on culture we had, I would like to share some thoughts about how deep culture is, how it affects organizations, and why it is so important.

To start with the beginning, I found this interesting definition of culture by Edgar Schein, which is valid at a societal level but also at a company level. According to him, culture is “The pattern of basic assumptions that a given group has invented, discovered, or developed in learning to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration and that have worked well enough to be considered valid, and therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems”. This definition implies that culture is deeply embedded in our personality and, thus, determines our way of doing things. As such, it is a difficult thing to change for somebody internal to a certain culture, but also a difficult thing to imitate for somebody external to a certain culture.

Actually, we can view a human being as an iceberg. That is, what an individual shows on the outside – the part of the iceberg that is above water – is the most obvious part of his personality. However, some parts of personality are hidden, this is why it is hard, or even impossible, to perfectly know somebody. Usually, several aspects of an individual are so deeply embedded in his personality that the individual himself does not even know why he is acting in a particular way or having certain opinions. At this depth, what determines the individual’s behavior is actually his culture.

Iceberg

Now, since culture is so deep and so hard to control, it gets particularly interesting for organizational behavior. Culture does not only exist on the personal level, it also exists on the firm level. Two companies might be in the same industry or producing the same product and still be extremely different because of their cultures.  What makes a company unique and strong is its culture. To be more precise, any competitor can copy a product – and that is exactly what happens when looking at a product’s life cycle – but what is much harder to imitate is the way things are done in an organization.

Culture in an organization is not only about the values and beliefs the organization expresses in its mission and vision statements, it is about how people are used to deal with specific situations. If a company has, for example, managed to create a particularly familial feeling, or naturally positive interactions with customers, or an exceptional problem-solving state of mind within the employees, then it is extremely hard to imitate its quality of service or its effectiveness. This is why culture is particularly important to a company.

Nevertheless, not all companies have a prominent culture.  Actually, we can differentiate between weak and strong cultures in a business. A strong culture means that every member accepts the values, the vision, and the way of doing things of the firm and even has a preference towards this set of attitudes. A strong culture can occur in cases where the employees have shared history and have lived “critical events” together while working for the company. A weak culture is characterized by employees having differing opinions concerning the values, implicit rules, or future orientations the firm has –or should have. However, a company can also have a weak culture when employees have converging opinions if they simply do not feel attached to or part of the company’s human community. This last case occurs when the company fails to create a positive team feeling. Such a situation can happen if the organization has grown extremely fast in a short time.

To conclude on the importance of culture, studies have shown that in particular contexts, strong cultures have a positive impact on firms and that they can provide competitive advantage.  However, weak cultures can be as benefic as strong cultures because they typically leave room for change inside the organization. An eternal problem for companies with strong cultures is that the current way of doing things is so intensely recognized as the only good way, that innovation and new techniques are not even discussed. So my personal result is the following: a company should focus on having a strong culture of constant amelioration and re-thinking of the current culture.