On motivating staff
Asign in front of the gate of a factory read: “If you are like a wheelbarrow, going no further than you are pushed, then do not apply for work here.” The sign makes it vivid that non-motivated people are useless and unworthy of doing anything in an enterprise.
When one enters an organisation, one brings to the job certain needs that the environment translates into wants. This aspect of employees must be given adequate attention in order for organisational performance to improve. When “employee malfunction” occurs, just like with machine malfunction, it needs to be systematically analysed to ensure proper diagnosis and identification of suitable intervention as a way to solve it. This would ensure retention of trained and talented employees who are scarce resources of the organisation. Your organisation would have, in such a situation, more satisfied and productive employees.
Motivation is such an invisible trait in human beings that has no alternative. Depending on this contention, organisations have historically been involved with identifying and applying various ways for motivating employees to accelerate their urge to do more for their organisation. In Bangladesh, what appears from my personal experience with organizations of various categories with which I have worked, either as a board member or as a management consultant, motivating employees requires a clear understanding of the actual wants and needs of individual employees. Group-based strategies of motivating work very poorly. For example, in one business organisation producing and marketing processed food products, management tried to motivate employees through providing incentives based on the performance of the group in achieving sales target every month. After a couple of months, some members of the group started becoming apathetic to group achievement, as they found it personally unappreciative.
Management subsequently changed the strategy to individual incentives for achieving targets. It worked. Tremendously positive results flowed in. Each employee worked very hard to have individual incentives, and most not only achieved the target but exceeded it.
This is not unusual. Our society has is less team-oriented than, say, Japanese society. In Japan, people give more value to group achievement than individual achievement. The opposite is true in our country, although there may be organisation-specific exceptions.
Motivating employees is a much more complicated task in Bangladesh than in any Western country. In the West -- such as the USA and UK (where I worked) -- employees at all levels are fairly satisfied with the financial benefits that they receive from their employers. They are more concerned, I believe, with satisfying higher-order needs, such as having recognition, advancement opportunities, challenging jobs, freedom to show creativity and the like. Their major needs are social and esteem needs.
Our people are in general more concerned with satisfying lower-order needs, such as basic necessities and job security. They can be motivated by offering better financial incentives and good working conditions. In one top-ranking construction company that installs electric sub-stations and gas lines, management provides housing with the bonus that if an employee serves continuously for 20 years, he or she will then own the house or flat. The promotion policy, training policy and compensation policy of the company are all employee-supportive, designed by the employees in collaboration with the management board. The motivation system has worked very well. This company, established in 1976, has been able to retain more than 90 percent of its engineers and technical people who joined in its initial years.
In Bangladesh, management alone cannot solve motivation problems. Society's support is essential, in the form of educating people about the harms of becoming militant in workplace (as often happens in the garments sector or in the port area), maintaining law and order in the industrial belts, developing citizen-friendly transportation system for low-paid employees to move comfortably and securing livable housing. Thus, I want to emphasise that micro-motivation on the job and within enterprise must be complemented by macro-motivation factors that reside outside the enterprise.