Thursday, April 28, 2011

What is the best motivator?

All three basic approaches to motivation (fear, incentive, and attitude) have been available since the early beginnings of organized society. Both fear and incentive motivation have consistently proven to be temporary because they are external. Fear ceases to exist if the power to inflict punishment is gone. But it also ceases to motivate action if people find out they can live with the punishment, or if it is an empty threat. A team member who is careless about following established procedures learns that the only punishment is an angry reprimand; it may be easier to tune out the lecture than to follow the rules exactly. Fear is successful as a motivator only if the pressure is constant and power to punish is exercised.

Incentive motivation loses its power when the promised rewards are perceived either as unattainable or as unappealing. When employees consistently earn a promised reward over a period of time, that reward is expected. It no longer appears desirable enough to inspire extra effort. In fact, it is soon looked upon as a right instead of a special reward. Unfortunately, incentives must become progressively more impressive to continue to motivate. Both fear and incentive motivation fall short because they are externally controlled and temporary.

Attitude motivation, on the other hand, is a permanent force for producing desired behavior. It has the additional advantage of being internally produced and controlled. It continues to be effective whether the individual is working alone or in a group. Attitude motivation grows out of an individual’s dreams and desires. It is a function of the need to belong, to achieve, and to use the innate talents with which the individual is endowed. motivating people is basically a matter of showing them how to develop the power of self-motivation and then demonstrating to them the desirability of using that power to accomplish a purpose. Admittedly, it takes longer to start the process of achievement in your organization through attitude motivation than you might produce through either fear or incentive. But once team members experience the sense of fulfillment that comes through the use of attitude motivation, they are permanently sold on making full use of their potential.

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