Weak Leaders Try to Use Money as a Motivator

Posted by M ws On Sunday, August 5, 2012 1 comments
Jim Clemmer, author of the following article has authored practical leadership and personal growth books, workshops, and team retreats which have helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide improve personal, team, and organizational performance. Please visit his website HERE for more information and his resource library.

By Jim Clemmer

"Managers tend to use compensation as a crutch. After all, it is far easier to design an incentive system that will do management's work than it is to articulate a direction persuasively, develop agreement about goals and problems, and confront difficulties when they arise." — Michael Beer, Harvard professor of business administration, researcher, and author of papers and books on organization change

Decades of research and dozens of studies show again and again that while money can be a de-motivator, it is rarely a good motivator. Money always shows up as fourth or fifth on any list of motivational factors. Pay gets people to show up for work. But pay doesn't get many to excel. More important is interesting, challenging, or meaningful work, recognition and appreciation, a sense of accomplishment, growth opportunities, and the like.

But the big problem is that managers have consistently listed money as the number one factor that they think motivates people. So they keep fiddling with pay, bonuses, and financial incentives in a futile attempt to find the elusive combination that will motivate people to higher performance.

Bribing people to perform turns them into mercenaries. It debases, degrades, and demeans work. It sets a vicious, self-perpetuating cycle into motion — incentives, inducements, rewards, and the like leave people feeling manipulated and overly focused on what they get for complying with management's goals and direction (tuned only to WIFM — "what's in it for me"). The emptier work is, the more people look elsewhere for fulfillment; so we demand more money and incentives to continue working in such a meaningless, unfulfilling job (which then "proves" to managers that people won't improve their performance unless they're bribed to do so). Money is rarely an effective rallying point for high performance. That’s because money doesn't provide deeper meaning and inspiration for a bigger cause and purpose.

We’re big believers in paying people very well. We agree with the wag that said, "If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys." We have long believed in, and practiced, profit sharing and organization or team performance bonuses. The people who helped create the profits should share in the rewards in proportion to their contribution (which can be very tough to establish).

1 comments to Weak Leaders Try to Use Money as a Motivator

  1. says:

    walla The reason weak leaders use money to motivate is because money is the first thing in their minds.

    To them all other paths are more difficult to take but more enduring in their results.

    Weak leaders are thus opportunists incarnate and can only deliver short-term feel-good transients at the expense of laying sound and solid foundation of self-growth by all working for themselves aligned to working for the enterprise and country in which they have to live in coexistence with all other elements, an objective lost on rudderless leadership.

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