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Jim Owens: Motivation 2/2

Number of View: 3500

Hi all. When you write an article it’s pretty simple to break it up into parts for publishing. But the big problem is when you write a “something – Part I”, because at some time you actually have to sit down and write a “Part II”.
But at least the pressure of this expectation gave me the motivation to continue.
BTW – thank you for the messages of support for what I write.
Well, here it is:
Motivation Part II – Jim Owens PMP

World War I – often called the “Great War”, because everyone thought that this was the first and last time that people would be stupid enough to wage war on a global scale – was a lengthy and traumatic experience. People thought that “the world” had learned its lesson. But there are two interesting sayings about history:
1. If we don’t learn from history then we are doomed to repeat it.
2. The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.
Wow that sounds a bit negative – why if that were true then there would have been a World War II, wouldn’t there? World war II was a lengthy and traumatic experience, and the indications are that people have learned little from it.

So by this stage I think you’re probably ready for “Motivation Part II :)”

Surprisingly, motivation was not an enormous problem during WW II – morale was a problem, but motivation not so much so – because people had a common enemy to defeat and common goals to achieve, and these goals were well and often articulated. In fact it sounds a bit like project management!

In Germany (until they started loosing) they were very efficient and very motivated. It is often said that the Nazi’s were the first to make the trains run on time in Germany (I wonder is that why the trains run on time in Perth).

Strangely it was after the war that motivation (and productivity – for the two are linked), began to fall. Not at once of course, because the war was over, and we had won (authors note: if your lot lost, it’s not such a big deal – you all bounced back pretty well anyway). It was a while later when the “brave new world” had not materialised, and nations were struggling to rebuild, that the grim realities started to set in. People were trained for war, not for peace and largely their peacetime jobs had disappeared. Even Churchill got the boot, because in peacetime you don’t need someone to encourage you to “fight them on the beaches”. And “never surrender” was not a catch-call anywhere but Northern Ireland (Belfast joke).

The next stage in the evolution of motivation was “rock & roll”. Anyone remember the little Japanese transistor radios that hit the market in the ‘50’s? Aw come on, there must be someone else out there (sob). Well you’ve got General Douglas McArthur and Edwards Deming – and the low motivational levels in the US troops post-war – partly to thank for those little miracles.
McArthur wanted to cheer up the US troops in Japan. The troops were unhappy because their Japanese transistor radios kept breaking down. So Macarthur brought Deming back to Japan to see if he could help with the quality problem – and of course the rest is history (the type we [d]do[/d] learn from though), and he mixed together Japanese culture, quality principles and some black magic to come up with Total Quality Management (TQM), but I’ll talk about that some other time.

Women had an even harder time. Before the war, a woman existed to serve men; her place was in the kitchen, and her reward was a pat on the head from her husband. But during the war women had to do all the work “back home”, work that men never thought women could do. The one exception (even today) is that it was believed that women couldn’t fight (if anyone still believes that I would be happy to introduce you to a couple of my old girlfriends). And now that war was over, the men were trying to force the women back into the kitchen again. So which a falling national productivity, and falling morale, this motivated motivational experts to get moving with motivational theory. Experiments performed by group of these experts demonstrated that productivity could be greatly increased without large financial investments.
Initial theories were based on the analysis of people’s behaviour n response to simple stimuli. For example, McGregor’s Theories X and Y, and William Ouchi’s Theory Z (I wonder what they would have called the next theory?) fall into this category. Theory X says people are lazy and you have to force them to work and/or offer them rewards, and manage them tightly. Theory Y says that people are self-motivated and will work if given opportunities to grow. Experts also suggest that there is a tendency for people to become what their managers think of them, i.e if you treat people as if they are lazy then they will become lazy, and so on. Theory Z says that people like to control what they do, working with minimal supervision, but they like to work in groups – with the group making the major decisions. Of course people are individuals, and so no one theory suits everyone.

The two theories that have possibly had the greatest impact on workers today are those developed by Abraham Maslow and Frederick Hertzberg. Maslow’s theory of needs says that people have needs that must be satisfied from outside, in order to feel satisfied inside. He them categorised these needs into a cute little pyramid and said that when a person’s need is met on one level they are satisfied and move up to the next level. The levels of need he stated were, food, shelter, and clothing; security; socialization; recognition; and self-actualization.
Despite the cuteness of the pyramid, it was not really based on experimental or historical data (so even if he had history, he didn’t learn from it).
But this little pyramid has worked it’s way into the fabric of society just as much as Dr.. Spock’s “theories” did (no not the guy on the Starship Enterprise with the big ears – the guy who taught a generation to raise children the wrong way and not feed them bananas – yes I know some people still use his books, but that doesn’t make them “right”). To sum up, Maslow’s pyramid has a shaky foundation, use it with caution. (Aside: I remember checking up on someone’s PhD thesis a couple of years ago, and it was based on a questionnaire that he had developed – no problem there – but when I checked the details of he experimental sample size it said, “I checked this experimentally on my wife”. I’m not joking – always check the “fine print)”.

But enough about pyramids and science fiction. Hot on the heels of Maslow came Fredrick Herzberg in the latter part of the 1950’s. He developed a better model of motivation (not unlike Maslow’s but it deals with some of the shortcomings), he called it the “Hygiene Theory”. This time it was based on experimental data on real people (high-level managers of a paintwork company – that seems like a pretty typical bunch!) to find out what positive and negative factors affected their work. Herzberg sorted the factors into two groups – “maintenance factors” (external factors – company policies, work environment, salary, group relations, and the degree of direct control over work etc) and “motivation factors” (success, advancement, recognition, responsibility, opportunities for creativity, and personal development., etc) Herzberg claimed that the maintenance factors had to be met to keep people from feeling dissatisfied. And people must be satisfied before the motivation factors can work their magic and boost performance. Persons who are motivated will achieve very high levels of performance. Going back to the pyramids briefly, we see that the bottom three layers of Maslow’s pyramid correspond to Herzberg’s maintenance factors, and the top two levels are similar to the motivational factors. However the big difference is that Maslow thought you could simply climb the pyramid one level at a time, leading to productivity Nirvana. But Hertzberg sugested that fulfilling the maintenance factors merely prevents them from feeling dissatisfied – so they’ll sit down half-way up the pyramid. In order the reach Nirvana, the good Project Manager (or line managers as appropriate) has to use the motivational factors.

To be continued (if I can find the motivation :))… — Regards,
Jim Owens PMP Director of Australia & NZ Operations PMTI (www.4PMTI.com). PMTI is a global leader in 4-day PMP certification training with a money-back guarantee in US, Canada, India, Australia, Singapore, and Middle-East.

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