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Geoff Roberts

Whether or not fear is a sustainable motivational tool is a different and much more interesting question IMHO and thi slinks to the long-term adverse effects of excessive amounts of stress/cortisol in the bloodstream. Many would argue that the latter is undesirable and unsustainable and so fear is not a sustainable long-term motivator.

J. E. Smith

Ever hear of an employee suggestion program that generated any material impact on earnings. Where human nature is concerned, perception is reality, every company has it's share of Assholes, and employees rarely see evidence that they will take action on a suggestion that is inconvenient to them, even if it's good for the enterprise.

Here's an example of what happens when you suspend culture and politics and allow business case justified employee suggestions to reach the CEO even over executive objections.

A $13 billion utility company with 24K employees took the above approach. At the end of three weeks there were 800 suggestions. As a result of several employee suggestions the CEO took bold action and shot an executive cherished sacred cow. In six business days the suggestions jumped from 800 to 7400, 3900 were acted upon resulting in a sustainable $300 million SG&A reduction and within six months a 50% increase in stock price.

This level of employee involvement has been consistent for fifteen years with every engagement and there's absolutely no financial incentive involved. We just neuter the asshole impact and the employees do the rest. In fact, the employee input continues beyond the end of the project, but alas, the AH's are no longer quarantined and without an outsider carrying the message results taper off.

So, assuming your doctor isn't at the table, asking for the salt is a fairly low risk request. Asking your boss to kill his sacred cow is like asking your doctor to pass the salt. Remove the risk, whether real or perceived and employees become motivated. One employee offered that seeing his suggestion implemented and knowing how much his boss hated it was the "reward of a life time". As ugly as that sounds, I think this individual is a member of a very large club.

working girl

I think most people raised by parents who drilled their Ps and Qs into them respond to polite requests that don't involve too much effort and are made in a public setting because they don't want to look like an asocial pratt.

Kevin J Porter

Bob, interesting post. Question, are people motivated by fear? Obviously motivating people through fear has no place in an organization, unfortunately many companies don't understand that concept, yet does fear actually motivate?


Dragan Bosnjak

One very nice book that explains human behaviour is Drive by Daniel Pink...
Give it a look.

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