Thursday, November 16, 2006

In which i am wrong (or hasty) III

I realize after all your comments, that, as is my way, i was too hasty yesterday with my motivation rant.

Here’s where that came from. Before i retired, i worked for a large discount warehouse company based in the northwest. It was a great company to work for, but as with any place, there were issues.

All the worker bees were paid the same, with no thought given to their contribution. And it was impossible to get fired. I believe that you could have stabbed your manager in the lunchroom over the salad bar in full view of 150 people, and you wouldn’t get fired. You’d get time off with pay and psychological help for which the company would pay.

There were many people who took advantage of this system and they were, as i called them, the secretly retired or RIP (Retired in Place). It was frustrating as a manager, because there’s just no way to motivate these people, despite tossing around big words like synergy and empowerment. (I came to hate those words.)

Then of course children in school are another matter, especially young children. We just can’t give up on them. The teachers among you reminded me of that.

Thanks.

15 comments:

patches said...

I know I'm a day late but....here goes.

I was a motivated worker employed at a mid-sized family-owned business for eight years, unfortunately it wasn't my family. Instead of moving up, I found myself cleaning up after others who were less effective, lazy or just plain incompetent. The owners were understanding in regard to employee error, which I could appreciate. Unfortunately, with no consequences for poor performance, many of the employees skated by doing far less than the minimum.

In December, I walked out. I couldn't bear the thought of spinning my wheels in vain, while others dragged their feet knowing there wouldn't be any repercussions. It made me feel ineffective even though I was a worker bee.

I agree with the carrot theory, but who has time to look for 150 different varieties of carrots. As for motivating children, I couldn't say....I've raised three cats and the water hose is an excellent motivator:)

Nancy Dancehall said...

Wow. Where is this place, and are they taking applications...
(I only ask because I was fired from my last job for blowing a whistle on a dirty old man. Details to follow tomorrow on my blog. I'm suffering return-to-work anxiety).

urban-urchin said...

Oh I hate the synergy word- blech. what's worse than an unmotivated worker is an incompetent boss.

I had one who LOVED the word synergy. And she would say things like 'abreast me of your druthers." WTF? My husband (boyfriend at the time) loved my daily email rantings about her and her vocabulary gems.

holly said...

I have the HARDEST time motivating myself. there are so many things that I WANT to do, everyday, but it's a real effort to make myself put down my book, or push away from the computer, and get up and do what needs to be done. I really have no idea why this is, especially seeing as how most of these tasks are things that I enjoy.

I thinks it's that sometimes (most times, honestly), I. just. don't. care.

when I was gainfully employed, I was very motivated, which earned me lots of praise from my supervisors. during my short back-to-work stint, I went from underpaid walmart drone to slightly less-underpaid department manager drone within a week of working there, so I know that from the outside, I appear to be interested in my surroundings.

I'm sorry, I guess there really is no point to this comment, I just recognized myself, for a minute, there...

Thailand Gal said...

Looking forward to Nancy's blog tomorrow. Sounds like an interesting story.

As for motivation in the workplace, I admit it... it was never there for me. I was too busy and exhausted from trying to dodge psychic bullets from negative, competitive, self-interested bullies, all climbing over each other trying to get a little nugget of merit. All I wanted was OUT! It made me physically, emotionally and spiritually sick.

However, give me a project that I care about and I am totally internal locus, have no problem motivating myself. If anything, I become obsessed.

jen said...

argh...i sometimes fantasize about my mindless dream job (video store clerk, if you are interested) but this sort of changed my mind...

daufiero said...

Yes, thanks for elucidating. It's a bad situation all right - the people in your position are unhappy, and i truly belive, the people who are dead before their time are unhappy too.

Sanjay said...

I can see what you meant by no being able to motivate some folks.

QT said...

I usually get all fired up at work and go like gangbusters for awhile, then have a month of what I like to call "downtime".

I only have to manage my assistant, but sometimes that is difficult as he likes to avoid problems & confrontation rather than proactively seek the solution. So I end up doing it myself....

Maggie said...

I was always a highly motivated worker. Of course raising a kid by yourself is a great motivator, but that didn't seem to wear off once I was married. But here at home, I go in spurts. I get totally into my routine and doing extra stuff about the house and at other times, I have to force myself at pain of death (ok not really death) to get moving. Sometimes I dangle my own carrots. Like, if I get this minimum done today I'm going to treat myself to x y z. Is that insane?

Bob said...

These are people that you cannot motivate. I have found that there are certain people who do just enough to get by. They aren't really enterested in the job, it is the paycheck they are after - a means to some other end. So, if they aren't interested in the job, how can you motivate them to do anything? If there aren't any consequences for underperforming (i.e. they have found a level of performance that keeps them in the job) then why should they do more?

There's another class of people - those who look at their employer as an enemy. They are there to do as little as possible and are proud of the fact that they are earning as much as Joe over there (who is always worried about doing a good job and is always trying to do better) but are doing so much less. Joe is a sucker to them. It isn't even principled - like you saw in the 60's and early 70's where people were anti-corporate or anti-establishment and the agenda was to enlighten the enslaved masses by doing as little as they could or working to change from within, etc. This type of person is motivated by how much advantage can be taken over others, and you see this in all other aspects of their lives - not just at work. It is a very selfish attitude and is very often associated with the attitude that the world owes them something.

meno said...

hi patches, there is no time limit for comments. :) See, you can de-motivate someone much more easily than to motivate the slackers. Their loss!

nancy, oh boy, i look forward to your story. And isn't that illegal?

u-u, that's nauseating "abreast me of your druthers" Ick. But it is good story fodder!

holly, i was much more motivated when i worked. Now that i have no schedule i can't seem to get a damn thing done. I think it's because (ala Scarlett) "There's always tomorrow."

chani, me too! (for Nancy's story) Your description of the workplace makes me feel so lucky to not be in it anymore.

jen, yeah, like many fantasies, it's probably better to remain unfulfilled. Although, there is this really cool video store in Seattle that is famous for it's cool movies and surly, but knowledgable employees.

hi de, i hadn't thought of that, but i believe you are right, they are unhappy.

sanjay, good, i am glad i got some pushback on my last post so that i could explain.

qt, sounds like you might need to have a chat with your assistant. Or continue to do it yourself.

maggie, i don't think it's insane. The same thing has happened to me since i don't work. No one to impress so i have to motivate myself however i can. Maybe with Dulce con Leche ice cream this afternoon. mmm.

bob, you know, that was a bit of a rant! And i like it. Because i nodded along with you as i read.

Mama P said...

Regarding a few posts back, I think it's best to stay true to being a motivating person. You will only lose out if you shut up your true soul. As far as the chasm between two people in marriage, god do I understand. Not sure if you were referring to me with the post as the person who talked about this earlier this week, but if not, you can add me down as a third person. More comments on this on Maggie's blog. As usual, you get me thinking. You're doing a good thing. Now shut off the computer and emote with the hubster.

Mother of Invention said...

I do the same thing Maggie! I'm so glad I'm not at school this year though. Stress is way over the top. A teacher can never be done her/his job. You always feel just adequate. Thanks, Meno for listening to this teacher.

meno said...

mamap, it was not you that i was referring to, but the fact that it might have been is telling.

moi, you're welcome :)