Don't Just Manage - Motivate

Holly J. Culhane SPHR
February 8, 2008 — 1,996 views  
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We’re all familiar with the clichés: “attitude is everything,” “believe in yourself,” “success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration,” and – well, you get the idea. Actually, we all know that as trite as they may sound, there’s really a great deal of truth in all the old platitudes. However, the problem lies in making them a reality for people; verbalizing it is easy, internalizing it and making it a part of your life is extremely difficult and almost impossible without help from an enthusiastic mentor. If you watch cable television (and these days, who doesn’t?), you may have run across a made-for-television movie entitled The Ron Clark Story. This movie has been shown numerous times on such channels as the Turner Television Network (TNT) and Lifetime. It’s based on the real-life experiences of teacher Ron Clark. As a young, white male teacher from North Carolina he had a passion for the “underdog” and felt called to a more challenging group of students than the middle-class southern school where he was so successful. His heart led him to teach at a public school in inner Harlem in New York where he encountered pupils who were considered “throw-away” kids – undisciplined, unruly, low-achieving troublemakers from the streets. However, with his passion and perseverance, he managed to motivate this group of misfits and help them achieve success. You’ll need to watch the movie (and I highly recommend it) for the details, but key to his success was getting the students to believe they were worthy of winning, setting the bar high, and convincing them they were capable of achieving the goal. In the corporate world it is no different. Employees need to be encouraged to excel and often the greatest stumbling block is their own fear. Management needs to create an environment that is comfortable for risk-taking so workers can be open to new projects and challenges. The fear of failure must be minimized in order for employees to step out and introduce innovative ideas and promote inventive solutions in the workplace. One of Clark’s rules in his classroom was that they were a “family” and, therefore, would respect and help one another – through successes and failures. He incorporated fairness and honesty in the classroom and insisted that all be treated with compassion. Should the workplace be any different? In order to get the children to believe in themselves, Clark was a super-coach and a major motivator. He never gave up on them and he promoted them to other teachers, the principal, parents, and the community. Eventually, the students had no choice but to start believing it themselves and then putting forth the effort to show that he was correct in his assessment of their skills. He managed to re-direct the pupils’ energies into academic achievement instead of self-defeating activities. Do we want any less for the workplace? If we encourage employees and celebrate their successes, we will most likely see a happier and more productive company where people are willing to step up and volunteer for challenging assignments. The result – not only a more positive environment, but probably a healthier bottom line! Tim Terrio, CEO of Terrio Physical Therapy-Fitness, Inc., in California, explains, "Having been on two championship teams while working in the Dodger Minor League system, I have experienced the energy and commitment of a group of individuals who have come together for one common purpose. Individuals who stopped worrying about themselves and their individual statistics and realized that the success of the group would in time, reflect back on each of them. I continue to strive to bring this level of energy and commitment to my company, but realize now that coming together as a team with a common goal and setting aside individual accomplishment is more rare in business than in sports. I truly believe that this is what sets the great companies apart from the mediocre and the great leaders from the rest; just a taste of that success, to realize you have accomplished something that few ever get to feel. A group of individuals that come together for a common goal and are rewarded by being called a Champion!" While all of this sounds easy, of course it is not. Just how do you encourage employees? Can you really turn a defiant worker into a team player? How far do you go to change a worker’s attitude before giving up on the process? None of these questions can be answered with a couple of sentences; they are intensely complicated. Often, it takes an outside training process with someone skilled in motivation techniques. This concept actually is becoming more and more popular throughout the country as competition heats up and companies are fighting to keep and attract quality employees and provide growth opportunities for workers. Perhaps you’ve read in the paper, or seen on the news, about the Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA), a new government program that offers mega-bucks to schools to improve opportunities for lower-achieving students and close the “achievement gap” for these populations. A number of schools in Bakersfield were chosen to receive these funds after submitting proposals for student improvement. Not surprisingly, several of the schools receiving the funds included hiring outside companies to work with school staff to motivate and encourage student learning. There are a number of agencies available to schools for just this purpose. Similarly, other agencies are set up for nearly every industry to improve your workplace and assist in helping promote an encouraging environment for all employees. If you are interested in tailoring training for your business, PAS Associates (661-631-2165) is available to work with any or all of your employees to help you influence motivation, as well as manage, your workers for increased company success.

Holly J. Culhane SPHR


Identified the need for human resource and organizational assistance for small- and medium-sized business­es and formed Profes­sional Administra­tive Systems in 1987. Now known as P A S Associates, this firm combines specialists in the fields of human resources, labor and employment law, affirma­tive action, and substance abuse policies and education, providing an unsurpassed Human Resource Center.